Exploring a big city like Rome on foot can be intimidating when your goal is to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Have no fear! This tour makes walking Rome a treat, featuring iconic landmarks and beautiful scenery.
While Rome is a huge city, each neighborhood is lively with its own heartbeat, from Trastevere to Vatican City, you can plug into each one and enjoy a unique atmosphere.
A simple walking route that spans five great sights and epitomizes what I view as the best of Rome begins in Campo de’ Fiori, Rome’s lively little flower market. From there visit the grand Piazza Navona, a perfect place to people watch and absorb brilliant baroque art. After that the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps are only a short walk away. Covering all of these sights will keep you busy all day, but you’ll only spend about 30 minutes walking.
A blend of activity and sightseeing; hoofing this area of Rome is a slow-paced way to throw yourself back to the roots of the Roman Empire, revel in the sights and go at your own pace. Put your phone away, look up and all around you and truly savor the details that you would’ve otherwise missed had you taken a cab.
Campo de’ Fiori means field of flowers and was named in the Middle Ages when the area was a sprawling meadow where heretics were executed. Fortunately, burning people alive is now illegal and what you’ll find is a lively little market with a variety of local fruit, clothing, spices and delicacies.
Tip: This is a great spot to buy souvenirs for friends and family back home.
From Campo de’ Fiori, stroll along the streets that lead you North and you’ll come to Piazza Navona. The scale of this grand historic piazza is simply awe-inspiring. The design imparts a stadium vibe, as it once was a mecca for circus games and public entertainment. That unique sensation of smallness hits you as you stand beneath towering architecture and Papal monuments.
Piazza Navona is an enticement for the senses; a place where visually stimulating art and vibrant colors compound the lively sounds of socializing to celebrate that lovely Italian ritual of engagement. Street vendors dot the outskirts of the square and people congregate here in what is arguably the most beautiful and famous piazza in Rome. Historical imagery is brought to life with three celebrated tokens of the Baroque era, most notably is Bernini’s “Fountain of Four Rivers.”
Tip: Restaurants here will be pricey, if you’re hungry try ducking down the alleyway’s to find a budget friendly cafe.
When you’re ready to move on head South from the Piazza for about a five minute walk to the Pantheon. Warning: another incredible Piazza awaits you, it is Rome after all.
It’s easy to become desensitized to the genius of Roman architecture when virtually every street corner, crevice, building, sidewalk, fountain, etc. features ancient construction, but the Pantheon is unique in its own right because of how well it has been preserved. First construction began in 27 B.C. and amazingly it has been in continuous use since it’s completion, upholding a holy place for people to visit. For over 2,000 years the Pantheon has offered a sanctuary for worship. Many buildings of antiquity fell with the Roman empire, yet the Pantheon persevered, surviving wars and conflicts, and now tourists amass from all corners of the world to view this Greek-inspired warrior of a temple.
The scale of the rows of massive Corinthian Columns that stabilize the portico personify the type of artistry that was popular during Rome’s dominant reign.
When you enter the Pantheon you’ll find an amazing oculus at the peak of a coffered, barrel vaulted ceiling that provides a single beam as the light source which illuminates the entire temple. There are tombs hosting Italian monarchy and niches with statues erected by kings for their gods, and my personal favorite: the tomb of High Renaissance master, Raphael.
After the Pantheon make your way east toward the Trevi Fountain where you’ll find a variety of pizzerias, gelaterias, cafe’s and restaurants where you can grab a bite or my favorite, an aperitivo.
The Trevi fountain is the jewel of Rome, it’s magnificent in scale and absolutely breathtaking! Being the largest baroque fountain in Rome, it attracts many tourists. Be sure to push your way to the water to toss a coin over your shoulder, a ritual that ensures you’ll return back to Rome someday!
Around the corner are the Spanish Steps (named after the Spanish Embassy nearby), also bustling with people. I love the Spanish Steps late at night, when couples are snuggling and friends gather here to just hang out. It’s an intoxicating aroma where lounging in the moment is the status quo.
Climb to the top for a pretty view, or rest your weary feet, you’ve had a long day. Nestle yourself on a step and enjoy the evening air and the wave of voices funneling into that unmistakable tone of evening mingling.
Tip: Don’t let the pestering street hustlers slip you any roses or merchandise. They are pushy, aggressive and annoying as flies. So, do as the Romans due and completely ignore them and you’ll be just fine.
Keep in mind: If you’re staying closer to the Spanish Steps or Trevi Fountain start there and end at Piazza Navona.
Want to know more about Rome? Check out the ancient Appian Way and Roman countryside!