Rome, the capital of Italy, is a big city. Nearly 500 square miles. The size of Los Angeles. But despite its grand size, Rome is a great city for walking. While there are too many sights to see in one day, you can bunch them together and create your own day-length walking tours. Here is a step-by-step rundown of my favorite walking tour of Rome.
Start your day at Vatican City. When we visited Rome, we stayed in a hotel in the San Daniele neighborhood, and took a cab to the Vatican in the morning for an early tour. You’ll want to plan for at least a couple of hours at St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, especially since usually there are long lines for those who don’t book tickets in advance.
Spiral staircase at the Vatican Museums
Near the Vatican, cross over the Tiber River via the Ponte Sant’Angelo. This pedestrian bridge, nearly 2,000 years old and faced with travertine marble, has been used by pilgrims to reach St. Peter’s Basilica for generations. On your way to the bridge, you’ll pass Castel Sant’Angelo, mausoleum of the emperor Hadrian, and a museum worth checking out.
From the bridge, head southeast toward Piazza Navona. This square is one of the main urban areas in Rome, and it is famous for the monuments and fountain in the square. Visit Sant’Agnese Church, which overlooks the square. You can tour the church, attend mass, go during a concert to see the interior, or just enjoy the majestic exterior.
Viewfinder Tip: When possible, book a guided tour to gain better perspective on the architecture, history, and art of Rome.
Heading farther east (but not too far away from Piazza Navona) is the Pantheon, a temple built to honor all gods. Even 2,000 years later, the Pantheon’s dome is the world’s largest (hat tip to emperor Hadrian, who rebuilt it in 126 AD). The Romans were smart enough to use a lighter mixture at the top, meaning no reinforcement within the dome itself was necessary. The temple has been in continuous use since its first incarnation, and officially has been a Catholic church since the 7th century. You can even find masses here on Catholic holy days.
Fontana di Trevi
The last stop on my dream walking tour of Rome is Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain). The Trevi is the largest Baroque fountain in the city; it is considered one of the most beautiful Baroque fountains in the world. Given the crowds, it’s also likely the most visited. That’s another reason it’s great to explore Rome by foot; you never have to fight the traffic to see the sights.
What’s your favorite Roman sight?