5 Steps to Roam around Rome by foot in a Day

Photo of by Unshod Rover

Rome was not built overnight, but you can definitely try to discover its historic centre on foot in less than 8 hours with only 5 steps. It's not a stroll in the park, more like a brisk-walking, amazing race adventure around the eternal city's grand monuments and beautiful ruins. Trust me. My sister and I achieved such feat in a couple of hours literally.

Now, here's the thing. As a traveller, I would obviously recommend and prefer taking time in getting to know a place and its people. I think you'd generally agree with me if we start a tour by waking up not so early and enjoy a local breakfast leisurely. But, in our case, my sister had an evening flight to catch and was in Rome for the very first time. So, a quick survey of the ancient city was in the itinerary.

You may start anywhere, actually. Our version of the "Rome by foot in a Day" challenge started at the Roma Termini train station. Now, we invite you to retrace our very same steps. Let me walk you through it. First, make sure you have comfortable footwear on (one time, an Austrian friend walked around Rome barefoot, but it's another story). Then, you may leave your baggage by the train station for a fee. And off we go.

Photo of Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Trevi, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Unshod Rover

1. Begin with a wish: From Roma Termini, we walk north towards the Piazza della Repubblica and say hi to the nymphs by the fountain representing different bodies of water, and pay tribute to the famous Roman waterworks. We head west and take our first real stop by the Fontana di Trevi. There, we take out a coin, close our eyes, make a wish, and as traditions may vary, throw the coin into the fountain in any way you like. You may wish for stronger legs, at least for the day.

Photo of Piazza di Spagna, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Unshod Rover
Photo of Piazza di Spagna, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Unshod Rover
Photo of Piazza di Spagna, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Unshod Rover
Photo of Piazza Navona, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Unshod Rover

2. Shopping or Art? After wishing, we have to back it up with concrete action, and big decisions should be made. We can go uphill towards Piazza di Spagna, the roads to which are paved with great intention to splurge with the flagship stores of my sister's best friends lined up along the way: Valentino, Hermès, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Gucci, Versace, Bulgari, Chanel, Armani, Dolce e Gabbana, Prada, etc. Or we could go further west towards the Pantheon, and then, off to the open air art market by the Piazza Navona. Here, you can mingle with both artists and art enthusiasts and check out paintings from masterpieces to on-the-spot portraits.

Photo of Vatican City by Unshod Rover

3. Another Country? In any way, don't splurge too much neither on brands nor art as we have yet the Tiber river to cross and another "country" to visit. Across the Tiber, there's the Castel Sant'Angelo, our gateway to the city-state of the Vatican. There might be a queue, depending on the day and timings, to enter St. Peter's Basilica, a very important, if not the most important holy site for some. While waiting and/or after a visit inside the Basilica, you may take some time to enjoy one of Italy's greatest delights: il gelato! There's quite a list of favorite shops, but for any newbie traveller, any kind of gelato is definitely a very different gastronomic experience from the regular ice cream we find in the rest of the world.

Photo of Trastevere, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Unshod Rover

4. A Meal Beyond the River: This one could be a little case of only my own personal indulgence. But you might as well try it. From the Vatican, we can breeze walk along the river Tiber to reach Trastevere, which literarily means "beyond Tevere". It's my most favorite cozy neighborhood in Rome, with the lovely small restaurants, and here we go, the best secondhand bookshops. We can indulge in great local and international food there both for the stomach and the soul. Here, I tried walking barefoot as the small neighborhood atmosphere inspired me to.

Photo of Colosseum, Piazza del Colosseo, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Unshod Rover

5. Rising from the Ruins: Following a Roman lunch, it's time to rebuild ancient Rome, at least in our imaginations, by marveling at its ruins. But first we hit Rome's main hub, Piazza Venezia, where we can find the imposing monument to Italy's first king, Vittorio Emanuele II. Behind it are the remains of old Rome, a trail of historic breadcrumbs that will lead us to the Colosseum, the crown of central Rome. It is a great icon of what Rome is all about: colossal, imperial, spectacular, a city that stands tall, and rises above its ruins. Much of Rome's glory may have remained in the past, but seeing the city today, it remains a great testament of a people made on the foundations of strong governance and world ambitions.