Rome is a walking city. The cobbled streets and historic attractions are best enjoyed on foot. After all, many of most of the famous attractions are within walking distance from each other. In my opinion, a good Rome walking tour is the best way to experience the city. Luckily, I've got a FREE one for you to use on your trip to Rome!
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Experience and Expertise
One of the best things about dating a professor of Greek and Roman archaeology is the insider tips you get when visiting Rome. Over the years, The Professor's spent a significant amount of time in Rome. He lived there for two years during his studies and has made numerous trips since.
The Rome walking tour featured in this post is his, so I must give him total credit. He devised this walking tour of Rome to share with friends who needed tips for visiting Rome. Now, I'm sharing it with my lovely readers so you, too, can experience his Rome.
So, get your walking shoes on and be ready to snap some fun shots of the ancient city of Rome. Be sure to tag @acajunincali when you post your shots on social media for some love!
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Begin with the Baths
Start at Piazza della Repubblica, near Rome's Termini train station at the east end of Via Nazionale. The Piazza della Repubblica has its own metro stop, so feel free to use the subway line to start this tour.
The shape of the piazza was defined by the Diocletianic bath complex which is partially preserved on the east side of the piazza. To see the remains of the ancient bath complex, simply walk into the Santa Maria degli Angeli.
Notice the concave space in the entrance. You're standing in what's remaining of the caldarium where the hot water baths were once located. As you move further into the church, you'll enter a small circular room which was once the tepiderium. Visitors would take warm water baths in the tubs which once occupied with small chapels on each side of the room.
Further into the church you'll find a large rectangular room. This space was once the frigidarium where Romans enjoyed cold water baths.
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Bernini vs. Borromini
From the piazza walk north to Santa Maria Della Vittoria to view Gian Lorenzo Bernini's famous sculpture, St. Teresa in Ecstacy. Be sure to bring loose change as you'll want to illuminate the statue using the chapel's timed lighting system.
After bathing in the beauty of St. Teresa, walk west on Via XX Settembre to Santa Carlo Alle Quattro Fontane. This Baroque beauty was designed by Bernini's rival architect, Francesco Borromini. The geometric designs in the dome are worth a gaze or two, so be sure to go inside.
From here, head north one block to the Palazzo Barberini to view the Triton Fountain. This fountain is one of many lovely public art pieces designed by the famous Bernini.
Toss a Coin into The Trevi
Returning to Via XX Settembre, continue west to Santa Andrea al Quirinale (on the left) and the Quirinal Palace (on the right). Go down the staircase to Via Dataria. Follow signs to the famous Trevi Fountain.
Completed in 1762, the Trevi Fountain is the largest and most famous fountain in Rome. The elaborate design features oceanic figures and themes. And legend has it, throwing a coin over your left shoulder using your right hand will ensure you return to Rome.
And you'll feel good knowing that your money is going to a good cause. The Catholic charity, Caritas, uses the money from the fountain to fund food for needy Romans.
Be Fooled by Santa Ignazio
After tossing your coin, head west again and cross Via del Corso. Continue west onto Via Lata. You'll eventually enter a large piazza with the Jesuit Collegio Romano on the right.
At the end of the Collegio building, turn right and go into Piazza Sant'Ignazio. Lovely Rococo buildings line the piazza on the north and west. In the middle lies the Church of St. Ignazio, which is a must-see. Be sure to keep your eye on the ceiling paintings as you walk forward. The optical illusion is worth it, I promise.
Choose Your Next Step
From Sant'Ignazio, you have three choices. Depending on your preference, you can decide to explore some of Rome's best churches, famous piazzas, or just wander through historic quarters.
Churches, Churches, Churches
From the church, continue north until you reach the Column of Marcus Aurelius in Piazza Colonna. You've got to stop and pay particular attention to the incredibly detailed sculptures on the spiral column.
Keep your Rome walking tour going by turning left (west) to enter into the Piazza di Montecitorio. There you'll find the Italian Parliament building (where we saw an activist get arrested). The facade of the building was designed by Bernini and shows his talent for architecture.
Next, head south out of the piazza and take two quick right turns to find yourself on Via Delle Coppelle. Follow it around, across Via Della Scrofa to the Church of Sant'Agostino. Inside you'll find an impressive painting by the famous Italian Baroque painter, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.
After Sant'Agostino, turn right (north) to find the Church of Sant'Antonio di Portoghesi. This little jewel of a church has some of the most spectacular colored stone.
Now walk east to Via Della Scrofa. Turn north and walk to Piazza del Popolo. There you'll find the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo. It contains works by some of the most influential Italian artists. Of particular interest should be the Cerasi Chapel which features two breathtaking works by Caravaggio and the Chigi Chapel which was designed by Raphael.
From Via Della Scrofa you can turn right onto Via del Clementino and which will lead you to the Spanish Steps.
Pass By the Pantheon
Another option from Sant'Ignazio is to go west on Via del Seminario. There you'll find the Pantheon, one of the most impressive ancient Roman attractions.
Next up on your Rome walking tour, take Via Giustiniani west one block to Santa Luigi dei Francesi, which houses three works by Caravaggio. Continue west to Corso del Rinascimento, then turn left (south) to admire the exterior one of Borromini's masterpieces, the Church of Sant' Ivo.
Continue south to the Corso Vittorio Emmanuele and Sant'Andrea della Valle. One of the largest churches in the city, this Baroque beauty is known for the gilded interior, impressive vaulted ceiling, and naturally-lit dome.
Return to Sant'Ivo, cross the street, and go into Piazza Navona. Admire the Church of Sant'Agnese, another one of Borromini's masterpiece designs. Right in front of the church sits the Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi which features larger-than-life river gods. This piece is one of Bernini's best, in my opinion. Head north out of the Piazza to see the ancient circus underneath the building on the left. Continue west on Via
Lastly, head north out of the Piazza to see the ancient circus underneath the building on the left. You can then continue west on Via dei Coronari to the Tiber River to see Castel Sant'Angelo, also known as Hadrian's Mausoleum.
If you still have time and energy, head to Campo Dei Fiori to see the Palazzo Farnese, which was designed by Michaelangelo.
or Go to The Ghetto
The other option from the Church of Sant'Ignazio involves delicious street food! Return to Piazza Collegio Romano, then head south until you reach Via del Plebescito.
From there, turn right and continue until you reach the Il Gesu', the chief church of the Jesuits. Inside you'll find an incredible ceiling fresco by painter Giovanni Battista Gaulli and an impressive altar.
Next, go southeast across Via Delle Botteghe Oscure. From there, follow Via del Teatro Marcello as you walk around the Teatro Marcello. The open-air theater was completed in 13BC and was one of many theaters in ancient Rome.
Enter the Jewish Ghetto on the theater's north side. Now you're free to explore one of the most interesting areas of the city. Be sure to stop by Giggetto for fried artichokes or taste any of the amazing street foods sold here.
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Until next time my friends!