Rome is a magical city. And while it was built on seven hills, it’s a surprisingly walkable city. I mean, it helps that all of the major landmarks are in the same general area, but regardless, however far you go, or don’t go, setting out to explore this city is always an adventure.
Filled with countless cobble stone alleyways and hundreds of gorgeous piazzas, Rome is work of art…but not every landmark is marked on a standard map. While I always carry a regular old paper map with me, I do all of my travel prep in Google maps so I like travel with a pocket wifi device from TEP Wireless. This way I’m able to rely soley on my trusty Google Maps app without having to stress about crazy data roaming fees. Or risk getting lost in a maze of side streets. It’s $10 USD/day for unlimited service, which really can’t be beat. I’m always a proponent of a digital detox while on vacation but there’s plenty of time for that, and being able to connect when I want to gives me such peace of mind. (PS – TEP actually saved me one night in Rome when we were going to a wine tasting in one of those cobble stone alleyways and we would have definitely gotten lost without it.) (PPS – It also came to the rescue a couple times when I needed an emergency gelato.)
Now that you have a couple of my travel hacks, let’s get this show on the road. This lovely little walking tour that I’m about to take you on doesn’t cover all seven hills but you will get plenty of hill action, don’t you worry.
[10 AM]: My hotel is a 15 minute walk from Piazza di Spagna, aka The Spanish Steps, so that’s where I’m starting. Piazza di Spagna is home to the Spanish Embassy, and also a beautiful staircase that leads up towards the Borghese Gardens. (BTW, the steps are currently closed for renovation so if you’re looking to snap a pic, you’ll have to get creative. I.E. my shot below from down the street.) This area is also great if you are in the mood for some shopping or grabbing a bite to eat.
Once I arrive, I do two things: grab a cappuccino and take a bathroom break. (Pro tip: the McDonald’s across from the Spanish Embassy has a free bathroom.) After I take care of the coffee, bathroom …and maybe some shopping, I start out for the Trevi Fountain.
[11 AM]: Next, the Trevi Fountain. It’s a lovely 10-15 minute walk from The Spanish Steps that is fairly easy to navigate. Rome doesn’t have a lot of directional signs but there are enough to help you on your way. Plus, if you walk with the crowds, you’re probably heading in the right direction.
Once you arrive, take it all in. The fountain was just renovated by Fendi and it’s stunning. Make sure you snap a few pics. And don’t forget to toss in a coin to ensure you return to Rome. I don’t care how touristy this is, you have to do it.
[12 PM]: The Pantheon is fairly close to the Trevi Fountain and the street that connects the two landmarks (Via dei Pastini) is one of my favorite walks in the world. Maybe because I’ve done it so many times that whenever I come back it’s like I’m visiting an old friend. Cheesy, but that’s the best way to describe the feeling.
Ok, so full disclosure, there are A LOT of street vendors on this part of the walk. Please don’t buy anything. Who knows where the money goes… and do you really need a selfie stick? I didn’t think so. Plus, selfie sticks are banned practically everywhere so don’t waste your money. I’m just trying to help a fellow traveler out. 🙂
Now, once you make it to the Pantheon, hang out and enjoy it. The Pantheon is a massive structure and one of, if not the, oldest church in Rome. (We’re talking built in B.C.) If there isn’t a long line, make sure you go through the church. It’s an incredible sight. Raphael, of Ninja Turtle fame, is buried here. (Jokes, it’s the Raphael, the Italian Renaissance painter and architect.)
The interior of the Pantheon dome.
[1 PM]: Before you head over to Piazza Navona, grab some lunch around the Pantheon. There are a lot of options but two of my favorites are Armando al Pantheon and Antonio’s. I’ll be writing about them later but for the sake of this post, lunch here. Just do it. You’re welcome.
[3 PM]: Wander over to the Piazza Navona after lunch. It’s a great spot to grab an espresso or a gelato. (If you go the gelato route, go to GROM. They grow all the fruit used in their gelato on their own farm.) Then enjoy your treat while admiring Bernini’s Fountains of the Four Rivers.
[4 PM]: As I’m heading back to my hotel, I decide to take the long route by the Forum and Colosseum. I recommend participating in an official walking tour of both (I highly recommend going through Viator) but walking past at the end of the day is great option as well. And if you’re not in a rush, stop in the Musei Capitolini. It’s a wonderful museum with a lot of architectural treasures that were found during the Forum excavation.
For scale, the base under Constantine’s head is a little over 6 feet tall!
[5 PM]: Phew! What a day! I’m arriving back at my hotel just in time to change and head to happy hour. I don’t about you but after a day full of walking a Negroni is calling my name. And some peanuts.
[6 PM]: Salute! 🙂
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