Walking through the streets of Rome, you’ll find marvels at every corner. Winding passageways, ancient ruins, and charming cafes mingle with well-known attractions from the Colosseum to Vatican City, the Pantheon, a myriad of impressive fountains and enchanting plazas.
It is dizzying how much there is to see (and consume). That’s why here, more than anywhere, you have to break up your schedule and employ the virtues of slow travel.
Slow travel is when you get off the train of go-go-go and allow yourself to take an unguided wander, linger too long in a café, or even kick back in a park. Do this for an afternoon or for days upon end, and you won’t regret it.
On a recent visit to make videos for my YouTube channel, I got the inside scoop on where in the city locals and tourists alike enjoy getting away from the bustle.
Pincio Gardens is known as the central park of Rome. It was designed in the early 19th century by order of Napoleon, and it sits atop Pincio Hill, looking out over the Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps with a panoramic view of the city. You’ll find a lot of other visitors here, but the views and the proximity to popular sights make this park a convenient place to kick back. Plus, it’s big enough to find your own corner.
I’d suggest ducking into a pizzeria or sandwich shop in the late morning and getting a small feast to go. Then, head up the hill on foot through the winding streets (which is a nice workout) or take a cab. Once at the gardens, meander through the park and find yourself a spot to sit and let the ambiance soak in. This is the perfect backdrop for your picnic lunch.
I have a small obsession with this park, located in the neighborhood of Aventino. It is known to the locals as Giardino degli Aranci, which translates into “the orange grove.” And it is much smaller in comparison to the sprawling Pincio Gardens.
Viewfinder Tip: There’s nothing quite like sunset in Rome. Try to enjoy the spectacle from one of the city’s lookout points.
I love this park so much because I feel as if the manicured lawn and patches of grass shaded by the trees simply call my name. To me, the park feels very intimate—like it could be a private garden where I might bring my picnic and blanket to read for an afternoon. I even chose it as a location for a video I made with a local friend about learning new languages.
Also not far from Parco Savello is another unique place to catch a view: the Villa del Priorato di Malta, (or, the Piazza of the Knights of Malta). This spot has a secret garden, and people line up to look through a mysterious keyhole at St. Peter’s Basilica.
Atop Janiculum Hill in the Monteverde neighborhood, Piazza Garibaldi is a square particularly popular with locals. It’s where young couples have their first dates with a romantic view of Rome in the distance. And it has a long tradition of being the place to celebrate after important soccer games and festivals.
Unlike the other two parks, this piazza is more of a lookout point than a spot to kick back and sit on the grass. A towering statue of Italian general Giuseppe Garibaldi stands tall at the center of the plaza, and the views, especially in the direction of the Vatican, are sweet. I wouldn’t mind sitting up here at sunset with my guy and a glass of wine in hand.
Slow travel is my favorite kind of travel because it gives me the chance to pause and really absorb my destinations. What’s more, it is always refreshing to get above it all to see the lay of the land in any city. In Rome, doing that feels triumphant.
How do you like to slow down when you’re on the road?