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The following self guided tours of Rome are the result of trying to use the public transport. My conclusion after one week in Rome is that if it isn’t the Metro or Tram no 8, walking is much better. More than once I had to wait for almost one hour for a bus, when walking to my destination would have taken less time. If you want to make the most out of your time in Rome, walking is the way to go (or the taxi, if you can’t walk).
Some of the stops on the following tours overlap. Don’t try to do all these tours, but rather use them to create your own Rome itinerary, suitable for your fitness level and health situation.
- Rome Walking Tours Self Guided – In the Footsteps of Caravaggio
- Rome Walking Tours Self Guided – From the Jewish Ghetto to Trastevere
- What If Rome Walking Tours Self Guided Are Not an Option?
Rome Walking Tours Self Guided – In the Footsteps of Caravaggio
This tour of Rome has the purpose to take you to see all churches in Rome with Caravaggio paintings.
The tour starts in Piazza Navona. From Fontana di Fiumi (the central fountain in Piazza Navona), take Via Corso del Rinascimento, and then Via del Salvatore. By the end of Via del Salvatore, turn right and you’ll find yourself in front of the entrance of the first church in this tour, San Luigi dei Francesi (St. Louis of the French).
Stop 2: Basilica Sant’ Agostino
From San Luigi dei Francesi, go back to Via del Salvatore, cross it and go straight ahead on Via della Dogana Vecchia. When you encounter Piazza di San Eustachio, turn left. You’ll have the Basilica Sant’ Agostino on your left. This is one of the first Roman Catholic churches built during the Renaissance. It also hosts a fresco by Raphael.
Biblioteca Angelica, the library adjacent to the church is worth a visit, so keep this in mind, even though you won’t find any trace of Caravaggio inside.
Stop 3: The Church of Santa Maria di Popolo
As you exit the Church of Sant Agostino (or the library, if you haven’t forgotten to visit it), turn onto Via di Sant’ Eustachio, then turn right onto Salita dei Crescenzi.
Then, turn onto Piazza della Rotonda, and then keep slightly right onto Via della Rosetta. In about 50m, you should turn left onto Via del Pozzo delle Cornacchie, then keep going onto Largo Giuseppe Toniolo, and then turn right onto Via della Scrofa. Go straight until you get to Via di Ripetta, then keep Via di Ripetta until you arrive onto Piazza del Popolo.
Cross the Piazza del Popolo. The Basilica of Santa Maria di Popolo is located just before the exit gate, on your right hand.
After you visit the church, you may want to visit the Leonardo Da Vinci museum nearby.
This is where this self-guided walking tour of Rome ends. The total walking time is about 30 minutes. With the stops, you can count about two-three hours. If you want to keep going, you can climb the stairs from Piazza del Popolo to get up the hill, where there’s a very nice Rome sightseeing point.
Rome Walking Tours Self Guided – From the Jewish Ghetto to Trastevere
The Jewish Ghetto is the area delimited by Via del Portico d’Ottavia, Lungotevere dei Cenci, the River Tiber and Teatro Marcello. During the 1550s, Jewish families in Rome were forced to live in this area of the city. The Jewish ghetto was walled and the gates were closing by night time.
Here’s Teatro di Marcello. It looks like the Colosseum, but it is much smaller.
As fancy as it looks today, this was one of the worst areas in Ancient Rome, as it was frequently subject to floods.
I’ll suggest a tour that starts in Piazza Venezia, as that’s how I did it. You can start from wherever you see fit, depending on the location of your hotel.
Stop 1: Piazza Venezia
Piazza Venetia is the end of tram 8 line. From here, you can walk to all major tourist objectives in central Rome. If you need budget accommodation but also to be relatively close to everything in Rome, you should choose a hotel on tram line 8.
Stop 2: The Turtle Fountain (Fontana delle Tartarughe)
Located in Piazza Mattei, Fontana delle Tartarughe is a very beautiful monument, a fountain that features four bronze turtles that climb to the top, slowly but surely. Apparently, the original fountain, built in the late 1500 featured only the four humans and the dolphins. The turtles were added about 100 years later and they were the creation of the famous Renaissance sculptor Bernini (at least that’s what I read here).
Step 3: Portico D’Ottavia & Via del Portico D’Ottavia
From Fontana delle Tartarughe, take Via di Sant’ Ambrogio to get to Via del Portico D’Ottavia. Here you’ll find not only the old road where the wall of the Jewish Ghetto was, but also lots of kosher restaurants.
Step 4: Synagogue & Jewish Museum
Keep going on Via del Portico D’Ottavia. In a few minutes, you should reach the Jewish Museum and the Synagogue (Tempio Maggiore di Roma).
Check out the opening hours, if you want to visit the museum.
To move on with your self-guided tour, turn right on Lungotevere de’ Cenci.
Step 5: Isola Tiberina & Basilica di San Bartolomeo Al Isola
Keep going until you get to the Fabricio bridge (Ponte Fabricio). Cross the bridge to get on the island (Isola Tiberina).
I took the following photos of Isola Tiberina from the Garibaldi bridge.
Step 6: Trastevere (Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere)
From Isola Tiberina, cross the Cestio Bridge (Ponte Cestio) and turn right on Lungotevere Raffaello Sanzio.
When you meet the tram lines, by Ponte Garibaldi, cross the street, then turn to the left and take the first smaller street to the right (Via della Renella). You are in Trastevere, only a few minutes away from Piazza di Santa Maria and Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere.
This tour would probably take you half day. The point is not to hurry. Slow down, look at the buildings, take photos of all those amazing details on the walls, and try to imagine life here in the 16th century.
What If Rome Walking Tours Self Guided Are Not an Option?
Guided tours have the huge advantage of offering you all information right on the spot. You don’t have to search the web to read about the history of the places you’re going to see. All you need is a knowledgeable tour guide who speaks your language.
You can take this 3-hour Trastevere and Jewish Ghetto guided tour that will take you through the history of these places. Beware, it is not wheelchair accessible.
If you want to taste some of the local foods, you can choose this street food walking tour with a local guide..
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