Anyone who has been to Rome knows that there is something of interest around pretty much every corner. As well as a walking tour being carried out on every street. I’ve never been one to go on organised tours, I much preferr to wander around myself and see what I come across. Armed with a map today, I went around the east side of the River Tiber to check out the main spots of Rome. Here’s the route I took if you fancy doing the same. Make sure you’ve got your own map, though, as my directions won’t be entirely clear without one! It took me around 3 and a half hours, but I did go slowly and take my time.
1. Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II and Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore
My hostel is next to Manzoni metro station, hence the weird location for the beginning of my tour. As you come out the station, walk up Via Emanuele Filiberto to the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II. This isn’t the most impressive of sights but there are plenty more to come. Walk through the piazza and walk up Via Carlo Alberto to Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore – far more impressive than the former. With only a few tourists milling around, the huge building in the piazza will be yours to enjoy at your leisure.
2. Teatro Dell’Opera and Piazza della Republica
Take Via Torina from Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore and you will find the Teatro Dell’Opera, a simple building considering other sights in Rome and the importance you would think it has. Head to the right onto Via del Viminale and then left at the park and you’ll find yourself in Piazza della Republica. If you have trouble finding it, look for the McDonalds that’s on the corner, which was full of Americans when I was there. We’ll breeze over that subject before I become irate. Here in this piazza you’ll find the first of many fountains you’ll see all over Rome.
3. Palazzo Barberini and the Spanish Steps
Head down the road in between the two arches of buildings in Piazza della Republica, Via Nazionale. Take a right at Via della Quattro Fontane. You’ll find a few tacky tourist shops and little pizzarias down this road, before you come to a cross section with four fountains on each corner. Keep heading straight and you’ll walk past Palazzo Barberini, which houses the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica. The buildings looks so impressive and huge that it stopped me in my tracks. Keep walking and you’ll go through a square (yet another fountain on your right). Amble straight on ahead down Via Sistina and you’ll find yourself at the top of the Spanish Steps. You’ll see how I’ve cleverly made my way to the top so I just have to walk down the steps, instead of having to walk up. Here you’ll find your first spot crawling with tourists, but it’s worth the visit .
4. Fontana di Trevi
At the bottom of the Spanish steps, take a left and walk down Via due Macelli. At the big road, Via del Tritone, turn right. Turn left at Via Tamperia, and you’ll find yourself naturally following the crowds to Fontana di Trevi, one of the most famous fountains in the world. You’ll have to fight your way to the front to get a photo, as this is probably the busiest spot in the city this side of the river. Hurl a penny (or cent) in for good luck, and then you’ll probably want to get out of there as quickly as possible.
5. Tempio Adriano and The Pantheon
From Fontana di Trevi head down Via delle Murati, then Via di Pietra and you’ll come across some good old fashioned Roman columns. Take Via di Pastini from there and you’ll be standing in front of The Pantheon. It’s at this point in Rome where I really felt I was in somewhere of serious historical significance. Nowhere else in this city feels more Roman to me than the Pantheon with the Roman writing above the huge columns.
6. Palazzo Madama and Piazza Navona
From the Pantheon walk down Via Giustiniani and you’ll come across the Palazzo Madama, which to be honest I only noticed because of the various policemen hanging around on every corner next to it. Take a left down any street or follow the signs to get to Piazza Navona, possibly my favourite spot in Rome. A big oval square with a column in the middle (with a fountain, of course, and another at the other end of the square) and painters selling their work all around. I can imagine that it can get really busy with toursits, but the bright white historical buildings contractsed against the rustic coloured houses around makes it the perfect spot to stroll around or have lunch.
7. Area Sacra and Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II
Take the south exit out of Piazza Navona until you reach Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Walk left down here until you reach Area Sacra. This just looks like a pile of ruins, until you look closer and see the place is teeming with cats. You can go in a little and have a look around, perhaps even give the kitties a stroke. Head down Via Florida from here and keep going straight until you hit a huge gleaming white building, with statues of men on horses dotted all around it. This is Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II, and may take your breath away like it did mine.
8. The Colosseum
I thought I would make the last stop an impressive one, and an easy landmark to find your way home from. As you walk down Via dei Fori Imperiali from Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II, you’ll be able to see the Colosseum in the distance, and to your left and right there are many points of interest for you to peruse, the choice of which is yours to make.