Rome walking tours: not only the Vatican and La Dolce Vita

Rome walking tours with a difference

Many Rome walking tours offer only the predictable combination of Colosseum, Vatican and Trevi Fountain. While these are all amazing places well-worth visiting, there’s so much more to see in Rome. To truly appreciate the beauty and history of the Eternal City, you need to go underground, off the beaten path, and into the less touristy neighborhoods. Away from the crowds, you’ll discover the real Rome.

Going off the beaten path in Rome

Pasquino Statue: an original Greek artwork from the 3rd century b.C.

Many visitors to Rome stick to the same route, visiting the same sights and staying on the main a roads. But the real joy of a Rome walking tour is exploring the back streets. Instead of limiting yourself to Piazza Navona, for example, why not take a stroll through nearby streets such as Via dei Coronari and Via del Governo Vecchio? These elegant streets are surrounded by many fascinating smaller streets and squares, like the charming Piazza del Fico. You never know what you might stumble upon – a cosy wine bar (Il Piccolo), a Caravaggio masterpiece (in the church of Sant’Agostino), or a talkative ancient statue (Pasquino in the piazza of the same name). Many of Rome’s riches are only revealed to those who explore…

Discovering Ancient Rome

Visiting the Colosseum and Roman Forum is an excellent starting point, but there are so many other places where you can learn about Ancient Rome. Some Rome walking tours now include visits to the Domus Aurea – the sprawling underground ruins of Nero’s opulent palace. On a tour of the Domus Aurea you’ll gain insight into the life and times of Nero, walking through rooms where decadent banquets would have once taken place, and admiring evocative frescoes covering the walls of vast, echoing hallways.

The Domus Aurea

The Domus Aurea is just one highlight of Rome walking tours focused on Ancient Rome. Roads to Rome Tours also offer private tours to sites such as the Baths of Caracalla – the awe-inspiring ruins of a complex of thermal baths near the Circus Maximus – and the catacombs along the Appian Way.

Trastevere: the other side of Rome

The Trastevere neighborhood prides itself on its difference – the name translates as “across the Tiber”, as it’s located on the west bank of the river, on the opposite side to the historic centre. Although certain parts of Trastevere have now become part of the tourist trail, there are still lots of hidden treasures to be discovered if you explore beyond the main piazzas on alternative Rome walking tours.

The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere – one of the most ancient churches in the world.

Villa Farnesina is one of the most underrated tourist attractions in Rome. This spectacular Renaissance villa belonged to one of the richest men in Rome, the banker Agostino Chigi, and was decorated by the most talented artists of the day, including Raphael. One of the pleasures of Villa Farnesina tours is having the chance to get up close to a Raphael masterpiece (Galatea); depending on when you visit, you may well have the painting to yourself.

In the quieter streets of Trastevere you’ll also find the beautiful Basilica of Santa Cecilia – make sure you ask the nun about visiting the crypt – and the church of San Francesco a Ripa, which is home to a spectacular statue by Bernini. Visitors flock to see Bernini’s Ecstasy of St Teresa while missing out on the equally spectacular Blessed Ludovica Albertoni.

With so much to discover in Rome, it can be hard to know where to start. For more tips on planning your visit to Rome, including information about a Rome tour with hotel pick-up, contact Roads to Rome Tours.

Read more: Visiting Rome? Insiders share tips (CNN)

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