This area of Rome has it all: history, art, architecture, shopping, restaurants and bars as well as peace and quiet if you need it. It is served by two metro stations and several hotels are located nearby. Recently I spent a week (in January) walking and relaxing in this area and decided to put together my ideal one day itinerary.
1. Wake up and take advantage of your Hotel’s breakfast. The Hotel Valadier on Via della Fontanella has a stunning restaurant on the roof which is where the included breakfast is served. It is buffet style but more than enough to get you going.
2. Head to Canovas. This café is situated on Piazza del Popolo right near the taxi stand. Buy a ticket for your coffee, go to the counter and give your ticket to the barrista. Or take a seat and sip on a cappuccino and people watch.
3. Fortified with your coffee, walk south along Via del Babuino to Piazza di Spagna to sit on the Spanish Steps or around the Bernini’s Ugly Boat fountain.
4. From Piazza di Spagna walk along Via di Propagnada to a new (October 2017) high end department store, Rinascente Roma Tritone. Built on the ruins of an area of Rome inhabited by the upper class, the basement includes a view of the supports for the Aqua Virgo Aqueduct, built by the Ancient Romans and which continues to supply water to the city’s fountains, including the Trevi fountain, and has a laser light show which explains the history of the site. Then head to the top floor and enjoy sweeping views of the city including St.Peter’s. There is no cost to get to the roof top but if you sit, you will be required to order something.
5. Head back to Via Della Croce along one of several routes lined with shops and find a place to buy some pizza for a quick lunch.
6. After lunch, window shop along Via del Condotti. This street, and the surrounding area, have several high end shops including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Balenciaga, Burberry, Mont Blanc, Harry Winston, …(you get the idea) Pop into Café Greco for another coffee.
7. Walk towards (North) Piazza del Popolo along Via del Corso and past several shops and stores. Check out the art work in the twin basilicas at the south end of the Piazza (Santa Maria in Montesanto and Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli). At the North-East corner you will find stairs that lead up to Terraza del Pincio. This is another beautiful vantage point of the city.
8. Spend some time walking through the Borgehese Gardens. Relax.
9. At around 7pm head back to the area around Via Della Croce for your apertivo. My favorite spot is Enoteca Antiqua. Sit outside or at the long bar and savour an Aperol or Campari spritz always served with snacks. La Buvette on Via Vittoria is also a go-to spot.
10. For the evening meal, head to Dilla on Via Mario di Fiori, a great little restaurant.
11. After dinner, amble back to the Spanish Steps to see the Piazza at night or if you feel like a little more of a walk, head to the Trevi Fountain which is a sight to behold at night.
A few lessons learned. Wear comfortable shoes. You will be walking, and want to walk, a lot.
Italian men do not wear shorts unless at the beach (at least for supper wear pants).
We did not need hi-tech security gear (if anything that can label you a target), but especially in the area of the Spanish Steps, be aware of who is near you.
Be aware of hidden charges while dining. Offered bread? See if there is a cost….could save you a four euro surprise. Same with water, even flat water may come with a charge of several euros.
Art is everywhere, as an example on the stretch of Via del Corso between Via Della Croce and Piazza del Popolo there are few churches with stunning artwork. Not all art is in a museum and it is a great low cost way to see works of some of the masters without the crowd.
Lastly, take your time, if you find a spot to linger, do so.