Rome: a stroll off the beaten paths – Part 1

Strolling around Rome is something unique. Nothing can be compared to a walk around the Eternal City. A roman relic awaits you behind every corner, a mighty Basilica will pop up in front of you unexpectedly, the entrance to an early Christian Catacomb awaits you behind a simple house door, the creative explosion of the Renaissance and the splendor of the Baroque era will be fill your eyes with beauty and surprise.

Rome can be sometimes overcrowded by tourists, therefore, if you want to take an extraordinary stroll off the beaten paths, try this one, recommended by my very good friend Valentina Violi.

I love casually walking to the Basilica of Saint John’s Latheran, the actual Cathedral of Rome that holds more than one record: it is the oldest and highest ranking of the four papal major basilicas, with the unique title of “arch-basilica”, it is the oldest public church in the city as well as the oldest church of the Western world. Yes, you got it right: it is the mother church of the Roman Catholic rite. In fact the inscription on the façade recalls “Most Holy Latheran Church, of all the churches in the city and the world, the mother and head”. Throughout the centuries, St. John survived several fires and even an earthquake, but it still maintains its first shape, even though it was re-built several times. A beautiful cloister dating back to the 13th century enriches the church with a sense of quiet and tranquility that is uncommon in the city. Don’t miss it!!. The Basilica’s interior features an amazing marble pavement, colossal statues, mosaics and frescoes spanning from the ceiling to the floor. When you walk out of the church don’t miss the chance to cross the street to take a glance at the impressive Holy Stairs, renowned because it is believed that Jesus Christ stepped on them during his passion.

St. John’s Latheran – Photo by Pascal Ohlman from Pixabay

From the Basilica of St. John’s Latheran let’s start walking towards the Colosseum. Take Via di San Giovanni in Laterano and you will get straight there, however, along the way, don’t forget to stop at Basilica of Saint Clement, an early Christian church, amazingly built on three “layers”. It’s an explorative underground journey through the secrets disclosed by ancient remains: the churc, in fact, records the history of Rome from the very early age of Christianity up until the Middle Ages. This visit will really take you back in time.

The mighty Colosseum awaits you just a few steps further. I love strolling along via dei Fori Imperiali to get to the entrance of the “Complesso del Vittoriano Ala Brasini”, also known as the wedding cake” due to the white marble used to build this extraordinarily massive monument). The complex regularly hosts art exhibitions and events. Take a picture of this dazzling monument and then climb the narrow alley going up to the Campidoglio hill, the City Hall square. Just behind the City Hall, amazing views of the Foro Romano await you.

The Vittoriano Complex – Photo by Edoardo Taloni from Pixabay

A wide monumental ladder will lead you down in the hectic city traffic, to keep on walking towards the Teatro Marcello. Right at the feet of the ancient theatre, a small side pedestrian pathway will lead you into the old Jewish ghetto, where small squares are liven up by art galleries, small shops, children playing and small restaurants and cafés to eat outdoor and taste the traditional Roman crispy fried artichoke. That’s Rome and enjoying lunch or dinner in the fresh air it’s at the heart of the Romans’ way of living. Just lazily walk around the area, gaze through the historical small shops (botteghe) and keep on strolling towards Largo Argentina, where a small colony of cats live, right in front of the Teatro Argentina.

Walking in the same direction will lead you right into Campo de Fiori. What a place! An old market square, where every morning colorful stalls sell fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers. In the evening the market leave room to small cafés and cocktail bars that the locals enjoy, chasing for some fresh air in such a romantic atmosphere, as a popular traditional song sings “…Roma don’t play the fool tonight, help me making her say yes… choose the most sparkling stars and a glance of moon just for us…”

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