1 Day Walking Tour of Rome – part 2
From the Imperial Fora to the Vatican Museums – part 2
We all love Rome, beautiful ancient city, one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe!
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 this 1 Day Walking Tour of Rome guide post to celebrate the culture and the endless beauty of this unique city.
You need to walk the streets of Rome to really understand it. At your own pace, obviously.
PS. don’t ruin your experience because of aching feet! Remember to use comfortable shoes for this walk.
So now let’s start with the journey!
7 – PIAZZA DI SPAGNA
Another well known spot in Rome, Piazza di Spagna takes his name from the Spanish Embassy which has its building in the square.
Piazza di Spagna is extremely original in shape, with a narrowing at the centre which divides the square into two parts, like a butterfly’s wings. Since XVII century it has been the meeting point for travellers coming from all around the world, who could easily arrive here with carriages. Thus hotel, shops and cafes began to spring up, where painters, writers and children of rich families would meet, in an international atmosphere.
At the foot of the staircase of church Trinita Dei Monti, the famous Spanish Steps, there is Fontana della Barcaccia, work of Pietro Bernini who created it in around 1629, probably with the aid of his famous son Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
According to the legend, the interesting shape of the fountain was commissioned by Pope Urban VIII to Barberini to commemorate a boat that had ended up in the square after the great flood of 1598. In reality, it was more a necessity than a symbol because here the water pressure of the Vergine aqueduct is rather low, and it was necessary to create a fountain beneath the ground level.
8 – VIA CONDOTTI
From Piazza di Spagna branch off the most well-known and elegant street in Rome, such as Via Condotti, “twinned” with London’s Bond Street, today perhaps one of the city’s most loveliest pedestrian area. Popular in the past with celebrities such as King Juan Carlos of Spain, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, John Wayne, Nelson Rockfeller, Ingrid Bergman, Audrey Hepburn and many many others, it is still a favourite shopping haven for all famous and important visitors passing through Rome.
Originally Via Trinitatis, traced out in 1544 during the papacy of Paul III to connect the church of Trinità dei Monti to the Tiber, Via Condotti owes its present-day name to Pope Gregory XIII who, in the late XVI century, had the conduits of the Vergine aqueduct, the one that supplies water to the Trevi Fountain, pass underground here.
The major designer names you can find along Via Condotti are numerous and some of the most prestigious such as Armani, Prada, Gucci, Valentino, Bulgari, Alberta Ferretti, Ferragamo, Cartier, Hermes, Max Mara and Iceberg.
No food or beverage shops on this street, except for the renowned Antico Caffè Greco, a famous resort of Italian and foreign artists and literati present in 19th-century Rome. Founded in 1760 by Nicola della Maddalena, a Greek, the café achieved fame later when it began to serve better coffee, served in small cups. Much appreciated by foreigners was also the service, which made it possible to receive mail in a characteristic wooden box situated near the entrance. Among the most famous habitúes of the café were Liszt, Gounod, Stendhal, Heine, Wagner, Schopenauer, Twain, Gogol, Trilussa and D’Annunzio.
The café has maintained its 19th-century appearance still today, making it a necessary coffee stop during your 1 Day Walking Tour of Rome. Just an advice for your pockets: have a look around the charming café but remember to enjoy your fresh coffee at the bar!!
9 – MONTECITORIO
The palace’s name derives from the hill on which it is built, which was claimed to be the Mons Citatorius.
The building was originally designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini but then the work was completed by architect Fontana.
With the Unification of Italy in 1861 and the transfer of the capital to Rome in 1870, Montecitorio was seized by the Italian government and chosen as the seat of the Chamber of Deputies.
10 – PANTHEON
Your 1 Day Walking Tour of Rome leads you to the unexpected Piazza della Rotonda which takes its name from the unmistakable structure of the Pantheon.
Pantheon is the building of Ancient Rome which has been preserved best down to the present day. It is true masterpiece of architecture.
The entire building is result of a well calculated balanced. It is a sphere inserted in a cylinder.
Agrippa, name that can still be read now on the façade, was the son-in-law of Augustus, who first built this temple to be dedicated “to all the gods” of Ancient pagan Rome. The present-day Pantheon, however, completely different from the original, is the work of the Emperor Hadrian, who rebuilt the monument in the early II century, keeping only the ancient inscription out of modesty.
The most amazing characteristic of the building is the exceptional dome. The largest dome ever created out of unreinforced concrete!!! It measures 43.3 mt in diameter and is greater than that of the dome of St. Peter’s. It is increasingly lighter as we go upwards, ending with an open circular window, the “eye”, with a diameter of 9 mt. Through this opening enters the rain, which is conveyed into the drains visible on the pavements.
Today Pantheon is the sanctuary of the kings of Italy: it holds the tombs of Vittorio Emanuele II, Umberto I and Margherita di Savoia – the queen of the Pizza Margherita! But that’s another story 😉
11 – PIAZZA NAVONA
One of the most popular pizzas in Rome, Piazza Navona is important for events and markets, especially during Christmas and Epiphany time.
The original shape of the piazza repeats the perimeter of the ancient stadium of Domitian built in 86 A.D. for athletic competition. The actual shape and size of Piazza Navona were impressed in XVII century since the Pamphilj family moved their headquarter in this area and commissioned to the best architects and artist of the time to turn it into one of the most scenic and beautiful space of the city.
In the centre of the square rises the famous Fountain of the Four Rivers, designed again by Gian Lorenzo Bernini to support the magnificent obelisk. The monolith of red granite, executed in the I century A.D. in imitation of the Egyptian ones to celebrate the Emperor Domitian, was perhaps intended for the Temple of Isis in the Campus Martius. Apparently it remained for a long time broken into five pieces inside a circus on the Appian Way where Emperor Maxentius decided to put it. In 1649 it was found and arranged by pope Innocent X Pamphilj in its present position, in the centre of the fountain. Immediately afterwards the bronze point was placed on top, decorated on its tip with a dove carrying an olive branch, which belonged to the coat of arms of the Pamphilj family: in this way a strong symbolic connotation was given to the complex, because the papal dove dominates and transmits the Truth of the Gospel to the four continents, depicted allegorically by the four rivers at the base. The Danube, the Ganges, the Rio de la Plata and the Nile are represented as river-gods, easily recognisable by their individual attributes. The Nile, in particular has its face covered with a veil: this is not because, as suggested by the malicious, it does not want to look at the church of St Agnese, but to show the mystery that still surrounded the origins of the river’s sources.
The church of St Agnese in Agone (agones meaning games) stands where the 12-years-old Agnese was martyred at the end of the III century during the persecutions of the emperor Diocletian. Legend wants her nakedness covered by the miraculous growth of her hair.
One of the most interesting facts about piazza Navona is the so called “lake”. During the hottest mouth of the year the piazza used to be floated to give a nice refresh mainly to the Pamphilj family members that used to live here but also to the Roman citizen. The custom was interrupt in the late 1800s for sanitary reasons.
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 >
12 – CASTEL SANT’ANGELO
Castel Sant’Angelo was built in the early II century A.D. by Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum, a monumental tomb for himself and his successors. It was highly decorated with rich metals and pieces of art. With the Visigoths and Goths attacks to the city most of them disappeared or they have been destroyed.
Ponte San’Angelo, Sant’Angelo Bridge, is decorated with marble statues of angels as symbols of the Passion of Christ designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
It was only from the XIII century that the popes annexed Castel Sant’Angelo to the Vatican to be used ad a fortress and a prison. Giordano Bruno was imprisoned here for six years.
The name Sant’Angelo with which the fortress is known derives from a miraculous event which took place in 590 A.D.: Rome was in the midst of a severe plague, and Pope Gregory the Great had organised a solemn procession to pray for its end. When the procession reached the Mole of Hadrian, Archangel Michael was seen flying up and sheathing his flaming sword, symbolising the end of the plague. The statue of the angel, placed on the top of the castle to commemorate the event, was replaced six times.