When it comes to big cultural epicentres like Rome, it can sometimes be tricky to avoid the typical touristy must-sees and the crowd that goes along. Still, you want to see one of the many incredible landmarks scattered throughout the beautiful Rome and hopefully give it your own pace without following the traditional path. It is refreshing to combine historical landmarks with local insights for dining and shopping. Which is exactly why we have created this cheat sheet for a perfect historical walking tour of ancient marvels together with a spot-on restaurant recommendation.
Rome had a very long and interesting history through which the city embarked on many cultural changes. The most significant changes to the urban form of Rome were achieved during the reign of Pope Sixtus V. He made transformations that took the city from medieval chaos into a Baroque beauty, a city appearance that can still be seen throughout Rome. The city's structure was marked by creating the fountains, columns and restoring bridges and very frequently making use of materials taken from remains of ancient Rome. Long and straight roads appeared and stretched through what used to be a medieval slum, covering most of the city's urban area. With all these big changes and many more later to come Rome has become a very popular collection of wonderful historical sights to explore.
Any given walk in Rome will take you on a historic journey and through it, you will be passing by many important ancient relics. The inspiration for this walking journey around the city comes from a simple idea to explore the historic sights with a slow pace and not the typical touristic arrangement. These walks all together form an experience of modern and ancient Rome on foot. We had picked out several locations and made a route which covers some of the important attractions: Trevi Fountain, Trajan’s Forum, and Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.
Let’s begin at Column of Marcus Aurelius, located in Piazza Colonna. It was built in 193 AD as a dedication to emperor Antoninus and during restorations it was enhanced at the top with a bronze statue of the apostle St. Paul, by the order of Pope Sixtus V. Still, today it is nonetheless a beautiful sight, a column so delicate in its intricate details it amazes anyone who passes by. Tucked away in a small square, with a fountain in front, it rises above beautiful and sunkissed red facades of Roman townhouses. As you venture further away from the Column of Marcus Aurelius towards the Trajan Column make your way to the lively street Via del Corso, for a stroll in the morning sunlight.
Keep in mind that there will be so much more to discover on the way to the next landmark, so keep yourself alert to the hidden gems of the narrow streets of Rome, while at the same time make sure you take small stops outside of the magnificent building facades. Very soon you will stumble upon a chocolateria Venchi, for a heaven of delicious chocolates and gelatos. A wide selection of tasty pralines and creamy gelatos will make a hard decision. Which is why we would advise you on picking out a box of traditional creminos and almonds pralines together with a scoop of their finest chocolate and pistachio gelato, this will make your walk all the sweeter.
The infamous Trevi Fountain is just around the corner, as you leave the busy street of Via del Corso for a turn into a more quieter street. Soon you will step into a lively piazza with an overwhelming group of people assembled around the fountain in the middle of the piazza, in a position of throwing a coin over their right shoulder and making a wish. Although this is a very popular spot, try to come close to the water to observe the details of the fountain and make a wish for yourself or you can remain at a distance and marvel at this beautiful fountain which has been recently restored by the fashion house Fendi.
Moving on towards the Trajan’s Forum you will stroll through the narrow streets of Rome, which are mainly filled with sights of large and incredibly beautiful doors, sunlit facades and adorable corner restaurants. This rather short walk will reveal the beauty of Rome’s small corners, piazzas and everyday life that happens in between the streets that are swamped with tourists. Make sure to stop by Galleria Sciarra on the way and marvel at the beautiful frescos this place holds. Before you know it you will come very close to a vast historical landmark, passing by a charming church on your right hand. The Piazza Venezia. A famous and often televised piazza, which stands on your right side featuring several sun-drenched palatial looking statues.
The main noise you can hear is a combination of camera clicks, buzzing of Vespas and murmur of admiration. The Forum is a historic site, once viewed as an architectural wonder of the world. The complex is composed of a large courtyard, Basilica Ulpia, the market, a temple and a Trajan Column. The Column of Trajan is primarily made of white marble with impeccable carvings that represent epic war scenes between Romans and Dacians. Without a doubt, it is a marvellous piece of descriptive and artistic expression, and if your eyes become tired after a while why not rest yourself on a nearby bench under the shade of umbrella pines. It feels like days could be spent on resting under such beautiful treetops, so take a moment to enjoy in these truly beautiful sights of Rome. You can take a stroll down the Via dei Fori Imperiali; a long and wide road decorated with red and pink roses, through which you will stroll with admiration at the sight of Via Alessandrina that is on your left side. This sight of a long road and vibrant colours mixed with historic vibes mirrors the strong presence of ancient in the modern day. Oh, and a box of pralines probably still lingers in your bag, which will be a necessary addition to your mid-day delight.
In Rome lunch in restaurants is usually served from 1 pm until 3 pm, so you are just in time for a flavourful meal in one of Rome’s trendiest restaurants that is just a few minutes away from you. Walking up the Via Alessandrina and passing by Palazzo del Grillo, an 18th-century house with a beautiful facade and a grand baroque door, you will soon be in front of “Madre Roma”.
“Madre Roma” is a popular and a colourful restaurant, that adds a twist to traditional Roman specialities. The seating area is in the midst of a lush green garden making the dining experience truly one of a kind. Their gripping menu wrapped in a symbiosis between contemporary and traditional directed by a Michelin star chef makes this place an opportunity for you to submerge into a golden nook of Rome. It's time to start moving towards Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. Start walking and take a quick turn to Via Panisperna. Following this street straight towards the Basilica, you will come across stunning houses adorned with climbing green ivy, colourful shutters on perfectly colour matching facades; sights that will make you fall in love with Rome.
Arriving in front of the Basilica you will immediately feel immense energy radiating from it. Originally built in a classical and traditional imperial Roman style it doesn't seem to stand out much, yet it is unquestionably extraordinary. However, unlike any other structure in the city, the inside of the Basilica is an important collection of carefully crafted mosaics and rich ornaments. It is a whirlpool of beauty, silence, gleams of gold and vivid colours. Before you know it you will be absorbed into the most intense collection of decorative art.
The sun glitters through the high rising windows reflecting on the marble patterned floors, so the halls, walls, and the floors become a resemblance of this truly divine palace. Soon enough it is time to head back and maybe stop for some shopping, or have a cup of coffee and tiramisu. Finish off your walk at Panella with an apperitivo, coffee or some delicious pastry. Most likely you will feel that you have absorbed enough beauty for one day and as the evening falls making the pines a few shades darker and, we are pretty sure you will be excited for the next tour which explores the footsteps and monumental locations of the historic Rome.