1 Day Walking Tour of Rome – part 1
Discover the real soul of Rome
Condensate almost 3000 years of history of the beautiful Rome in a simple blog post is a kind of heresy! So we thought to give you a little guide for your next visit to the Italian capital to make the best out of your time and to not miss the very best spots of this incredible ancient city.
We wrote some descriptions and curiosity for each stop. Follow the map bellow or make your own way through the narrow streets of Rome City Centre because
“Sometimes it takes a wrong turn to get you to the right place.” cit.
You need to walk the streets of Rome to really understand it. At your own pace, obviously.
So now let’s start with the journey!
From the Imperial Fora to the Vatican – part 1
1 – I FORI IMPERIALI
The Imperial Fora – I Fori Imperiali in Italian – are series of monumental fora (public squares), constructed in Rome over a period of one and a half centuries, between 46 BC and 113 AD. The forums were the centre of the Roman Republic and of the Roman Empire.
Julius Caesar was the first to build in this section of Rome. These forums were the centres of politics, religion and economy in the ancient Roman Empire.
During the early 20th century, Mussolini restored the Imperial Fora as part of his campaign to evoke and emulate the past glories of Ancient Rome. He also built the Via dei Fori Imperiali across the middle of the site, supposedly in order that he could see the Colosseum from his office window but mainly to give a unique and suggestive view on the archeological area. He also commissioned all the bronze statues that we can admire today walking on the Via dei Fori Imperiali: his idea was to help the visitors identifying the different fora and connect them with their emperors.
2 – PIAZZA DEL CAMPIDOGLIO
Campidoglio Square is situated on the Capitoline Hill which is always been privileged seat of divinity and power, although it is the lowest and least extensive of the Seven Hills of Rome – Aventino, Campidoglio, Celio, Esquilino, Palatino, Quirinale, Viminale). In the early VI century BC on the Capitoline Hill stood the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximums Capitolinus, by far the most important temple of Ancient Rome.
Near the present-day church of Santa Maria in Are Coeliacs was instead the Temple of Juno Moneta. It was precisely in this Temple that the first mint of Rome was established, and the goodness’s epithet later gave rise to the Italian word “moneta”, to mean “coin”.
The square, as actual city element, was created only starting in VI century when Pope Paul III entrusted its arrangement to Michelangelo Bonarroti. The artist designed the star-shaped pavement pattern, the façade of Palazzo Senatorio – seat of the City of Rome since 1143 – and the two palaces embracing the square, today the well known Musei Capitolini, the oldest museums in the world.
The equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius – the Emperor of maximum expansion of Imperial Rome – managed to pass un harmed through the Middle Ages, a period when all metals sculptures and architectural elements where melted and reused. This was only thanks to a misunderstanding: the popes, who were its owners until the 15th century, thought that it was the statue of Costantine, the fist Christian emperor. What we see today in the square is only a copy while the original is inside the adjacent Musei Capitolini.
On our new Via Francigena Walking Tour we will guide you from the Italian Alps to Rome, following the ancient routes of pilgrims and merchants to the doors of the Vatican. Click here to discover more >
3 – IL VITTORIANO
Inaugurated in 1911, it is a monument devoted to the first king of the new unified Italy Vittorio Emanuele II di Savoia (official date for unification of Italy is 1861).
The Vittoriano holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an eternal flame, built under the statue of goddess Roma. This Unknown Soldier symbolises all the Italian soldiers dead during the First World War. The body of the Unknown Soldier was chosen from among 11 unknown remains by a woman whose only child was killed during World War I. Her son’s body was never recovered. This ceremony happened with a state funeral on 4 November 1921.
The Vittoriano is the largest monument in Rome but it has been always controversial since its construction destroyed a large area of the Capitoline Hill with Medieval and Renaissance neighbourhood – here it was where Michelangelo lived until his death.
Also the material, corpse-white marble imported from Brescia – Lombardy in northern Italy – makes the Vittoriano a fish out of water between the brownish buildings surrounding it. Anyway the Romans had – and have still – to deal with it so they gave it a number of interesting nicknames like “torta nunziale” wedding cake, “dentiera” dentures, “macchina da scrivere” typewriter, and so on.
4 – PIAZZA VENEZIA
At the foot of the Capitoline Hill opens out Piazza Venezia, which takes its name from the monumental palace ordered by Pope Paul II, who was of Venetian origin, in the mid-XV century.
Another remarkable build is Bonaparte Palace where Maria Letizia Bonaparte, Napoleon’s mother, lived until his death. She used to seat on the balcony to watch the hectic life of the capital passing by and when she became blind it was her chaperon to tell her what was going on down on the streets.
5 – PALAZZO DORIA PAMPHILJ
The presence of the papacy in Rome has undoubtedly influenced the city’s history, affecting its urbanist and monumental development as well. The patronage of popes and cardinals, supported by enormous financial resources coming also from heavy taxes imposed on the Roman citizens, left numerous examples of the luxury with which the nobles family loved to surround themselves.
Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, home of one of the most prestigious art collections in the world with works from Caravaggio, Raffaello, Tiziano, Bernini, etc., is still owned by the noble family who lives in a private section of the palace.
The history of the building, which in the XVI century was owned by the Adobrandini family, is directly connected with the vicissitudes of the family. Giovanni Battista Pamphilj, pope from 1664 with the name of Innocenzo X, built for himself and his family a beautiful building in Piazza Navona which we will see later on on the tour. Following the tradition, his nephew Camillo was appointed cardinal, or rather as it was said at the time “master cardinal”, because he combined under his control so many different offices. In practice he controlled all the Church State. He felt in love with Olympia Aldobrandini, whom he married after abandoning the purple. This caused great indignation between both families, Aldobrandini and Pamphilj. The young couple got married in secret outside of Rome and there they stayed until things cooled down. After that they decided to come back to Rome and to come live in the Palazzo Adobrandini, actual Palazzo Doria Panphilj, which was enlarged and made more beautiful, also because it had to contain the magnificent art collection that can still be admired today.
Curiosity: the Palace aroused the amazement and embarrassment of Kaiser Wilhem II of Germay who, participating to a reception here in 1882, felt the need to excuse himself for not being able to return such hospitality.
Palazzo Doria Panphilj Gallery is open everyday from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm. (last admition at 6.00 pm). Ticket € 12. They accept credit card payment. Visit their website >
6 – FONTANA DI TREVI 1642
Undoubtedly there is no city in the world which that has more water and fountains than Rome. It has been thus since ancient time, when 11 aqueducts supplied thousand and thousands of litres of water a day to the city, feeding the counties fountains and magnificent baths other than its citizens’ needs.
The sacking of the Goths, resulting in the cutting of the aqueducts, ended this richness, and only until the end of the XVI century did the popes tackle the water supply issue adequately. Since then Rome was adorned by dozen of monumental fountain celebrating the city and papal magnificent. And still today, while we admire these masterpiece, we can refresh ourselves by drinking the excellent water running from the small street fountains called by the locals “nasoni”, big noses, because of the curious shape of the curved pipe.
Fontana di Trevi, a masterpiece by Nicola Salvi who created it in between 1732 and 1762, is certainly the most famous fountain of Rome, made even more famous by Federico Fellini’s movie “La Dolce Vita”. The fountain is the terminal part of the Vergine aqueduct built by Agrippa, a general of Augustus, in 19 BC to bring water coming from the Salone springs, 19 km away, to Rome.
Legend, illustrated in the fountain’s upper panels, wants that was a young girl who showed Agrippa’s thirsty soldiers where the abundant spring was. This aqueduct is the only one in Rome that has remained in use almost uninterruptedly from the time of its construction to the present days!! This is the aqueduct that supplies water to the major fountains of the city centre, from Piazza di Spagna to Piazza Navona.
The name Trevi derives from the Latin word “trivium”, the meeting point of three streets.
And of course everyone know that, if you want to return to Rome, you have to throw a coin into the basin. But for the dream to come true you have to do it with your back to the fountain!
If you are planning a short visit to Rome between your holidays in Italy and/or Europe, we have a beautiful 2 nights self-guided tour of the Eternal City in our traditional Caspin style! Find out more here >