Rome is a city best explored by feet. Its countless narrow, cobbled streets and stunning piazzas all attest to the joy of slow discovery. The key then is to get off the big, traffic-heavy roads and into the parts of town that allow for leisurely paces and breathtaking vistas. Here are three of our favorite walks that we like to take in Rome, slightly off the well-beaten tourist trails.
Stepping through the center:
The highlights of Rome’s centro storico
- Starting in Piazza Venezia walk up Via del Corso past the Galleria Doria-Pamphili, a great but not very popular gallery where you can see works by Caravaggio among others.
- Turn left on Via Pie and head toward Piazza della Minerva and the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, the only gothic church in Rome. It is worth it to go inside for the starry ceiling, a statue of Jesus by Michelangelo and frescoes by Filippo Lippi.
- Go to the Piazza della Rotonda (turn right out of the church) and the Pantheon, one of the oldest and best preserved Roman temples in town. Go inside to take in its impressive architecture.
- From the piazza turn left down Via Giustiniani to the church of San Luigi dei Francesi and three beautiful paintings by Caravaggio.
- Keep going down this small street and cross Corso del Rinascimento to Piazza Navona. Spend some time ambling around this wonderful piazza enjoying the Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini and the church Sant’Agnese by Borromini.
- Head out of the piazza on Via di Tor Millina and then turn left on Via del Corallo to end your walk with a well-deserved drink at Bar del Fico. Catch this bar at aperitivo time and there is a buffet of filling snacks that comes with the price of a drink.
Spanish Steps over the Pincian Hill:
Trade the crowds for romantic views of Rome
- Starting off in Piazza di Spagna, take a climb up the Spanish Steps. At the top be sure to enjoy the view down the busy, high-end shopping street of Via Condotti and over the rooftops of the center of Rome.
- Turn left at the top and head along Via della Trinitá dei Monti that skirts along the top of the Pincian Hill and past the Villa Medici.
- After the Villa Medici, take the ramp up to the park on the Pincian, where you can also access the larger park of Villa Borghese, a perfect place to spend a lazy Sunday.
- Keep heading straight along the very ridge of the hill, or cut into the park to explore the trails. In any case, you’ll eventually come out to the white-stone paved piazza that overlooks the large Piazza del Popolo below. Take a break in one of the benches and wait for evening to watch the sunset behind the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Trastevere and Janiculum Hill: Views and food
- Start in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere where you can visit the church of the same name and admire the Byzantine-inspired mosaics in the church’s apse.
- Head out of the piazza toward Piazza San Calisto and down Via di San Cosmiato to the triangle-shaped piazza of the same name. If you need some fuel for the rest of the walk, which includes a climb up Janiculum Hill, then go to Fatamorgana gelateria at the end of this piazza.
- Retrace your steps and head up the Via Garibaldi at the flat end of the triangle toward the hill.
- Cross Via Goffredo Mameli and take the stairs that are covered in vines and trees. Keep following the stairs (there is a break in them to cross Via Garibaldi) until you come to the top of Via Garibaldi and walk around that to the Chiesa di San Pietro in Montoro where you can get a glimpse of Bramante’s small and graceful Tempietto in the courtyard.
- Keep going up Via Garibaldi and pass the Fontanone and some great views of Rome from the side of the Spanish embassy.
- Continue along Via Garibaldi and then turn right onto Passegiata di Gianicolo until reaching the Piazza Garibaldi where you can enjoy the best view of Rome! From here it’s another short walk to Villa Pamphili, Rome’s largest park, or you can take the number 115 bus back down to Trastevere for pizza or pasta.