Planes, trains, automobiles… with travel becoming ever more complicated and costly, we’ve teamed up with bloggers Luke and Nell from What If We Walked, who’ve been happily hoofing it all over the world the old-fashioned way since 2017. We handed these Italy-bound nomads a copy of our LUXE Rome digital guide and asked them to augment our itineraries with a few tips and picks of their own. Here’s what they had to say. On your marks, get set, go (slow)…
Big Sights in Style
Time: 3 Hours
Think of Rome and you’ll probably conjure to mind some of its most iconic sites: the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Colosseum. They are indeed unmissable and, surprisingly, very easy to walk between. Starting at the dreamy Fontana di Trevi, we set off down Via delle Muratte towards the Pantheon, where we took a LUXE tip and stopped for coffee down a side street at Caffé Tazza d’Oro – a classic Italian coffee bar we would definitely not have discovered otherwise, and whose granita di caffé is something of a local delicacy.
The walk then took us through the lovely, undulating streets of the Monti neighbourhood and out to the Colosseum, our favourite Roman landmark not least for its ancient and arresting beauty. The perspective you get as you walk this route is nothing short of staggering.
Spagna to Navona
Time: 3 Hours
Like many of Rome’s top landmarks, the Spanish Steps are beautiful and worth a visit, but best done early before becoming overrun by crowds. On the morning we visited, we walked undisturbed up an down the pristine white stairs bookended by Trinità dei Monti church and the elegant Barcaccia fountain.
Once again, per LUXE’s recommendation, we pit-stopped at Caffé Greco, a C.18th cafe and patisserie near the bottom of the steps, then pushed on through backstreets past more historic cafes and the fashionable boutiques recommended in the guide. Along the way we came across fabulous centenarian gelateria Giolitti. Stopping for a sweet treat is a must, but note piccolo (small) still gets you two good scoops! We ended in Piazza Navona, the lovely oblong piazza boasting three fountains and myriad al fresco restaurants. Bliss!
Time: 3 Hours
We did this itinerary straight after the Big Sights in Style walk. After skipping across the Ponte Fabricio to little Isola Tiberina in the Tiber (who knew Rome had its own little islet?!), we pushed on further into Trastevere. It’s a former working-class, gloriously narrow, higgledy-piggledy, ivy-covered, multi-coloured maze of an area, teeming with life day and night. We (of course) stopped for coffee, this time at bakery Giselda – a great self-service snack/lunch stop – before heading through the labyrinthine streets to Dar Poeta, a back-alley pizzeria in a cellar, per the LUXE guide’s recommendation. For the happy-wandering factor alone, Trastevere does it for us every time.
Time: 2 Hours
Now time to wander off somewhere you might not know: rustic-turned-trendy heritage nabe Testaccio. Starting your jaunt at the Pyramid metro station, there’s a raft of things to do and see. First up, the Protestant cemetery, a fascinating, Victorian-style graveyard where both John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley were laid to rest.
On a brighter note, Testaccio is also a culinary and retail haven. There are boutiques stores, the perma-packed Oasi della Birra (Beer Oasis) drink-n-diner, and the stellar Mercato Testaccio that must be one of the hands-down best food markets in Rome. Covered stalls buzz and bustle with locals and visitors alike. We particularly liked the Sfuso stall with its good and inexpensive wine on tap! You can also buy the self-proclaimed “best sandwich in Rome” – but expect a long queue to match.
And for more of the Eternal City’s best bits, check out our LUXE Rome guide…