This article first appeared in 2012 on my previous blog which no longer exists, it has been updated on 14th April 2020.
Rome is walkable. I didn’t think it was possible but I realised it on our first walk around Rome. I imagined it to be a huge city with all the main sites spread all over the city but that is not true. You can walk around and see the main attractions of Rome without having to take a bus or any other transport.
On our first afternoon, my mum and I decided that we just wanted to walk around and see how the city works, as in, yes if we see something we stop by otherwise we just walk around. No plans made, after all, we had a week to spend there and this was just our first walk around Rome.
We wanted to take the atmosphere in before seeing monuments and palaces, do some people watching, look around and enjoy the Roman way of life. The main attractions of Rome could wait and unless you have little time for your visit, use an afternoon to just get lost around the city and enjoy it for what it is.
Our first walk around Rome
We arrived at Roma Termini around 1 pm and took a bus to our hotel, not far from Vatican City. It wasn’t a proper hotel as it was a place where pilgrims usually go. We had the contact thanks to my mum’s friends, otherwise we wouldn’t have got access to it.
For our first walk around Rome we needed some energy, so from there we went for our first meal in Rome in a restaurant nearby. I ate pizza while my mum chose a traditional pasta. From there we walked to St Peter’s Square and Basilica and Castel Sant’Angelo. As it was just a first exploration, we took a few pictures but with the idea to come back and explore more.
After crossing the river and walking on old cobbled streets, passing by gelateria (ice cream places) and restaurants we found our way to Piazza Navona. I loved it. The artists all over the piazza selling their paintings and painting new sceneries… it reminded me of Montmartre in Paris. I always loved street artists. The Fountain of the Four Rivers was something I wanted to see again at night. It would have certainly been more impressive with the lights on.
From Piazza Navona to the Pantheon
We knew that Piazza Navona wasn’t too far from the Pantheon, this majestic temple dedicated to all the gods of ancient Rome, commissioned by Marcus Agrippa and rebuilt by emperor Hadrian. I studied it in my art history class at high school, and finally seeing it, wow! I was amazed. It’s so huge and well-preserved.
Fontana di Trevi
A walk through the historic centre of Rome couldn’t be complete without a stop by Fontana di Trevi. I don’t know why but I didn’t expect it to be that close to buildings. Every time they shoot a movie or an ad it looks like there’s quite a lot of space around it and wide roads. The truth is that the roads around it are really tiny and look even smaller because of the number of people walking by. But I loved that part of town, with the little tables outside the restaurants ready to welcome you and the souvenir shops showing you what you hadn’t already seen: images of the Colosseum, the Moses by Michelangelo, and much more.
Piazza di Spagna
Our first ‘walk’ (it felt more like a half marathon) ended with a quick stop in Piazza di Spagna where we were offered roses and other bric-à-bracs by street vendors and where we decided we were too tired to see anything else.
On our way home we stumbled upon the Altare della Patria and bought a tour guide just to have a clearer idea on how to plan our next days.