Rome - the incredible Eternal City - is a place like no other. It absolutely oozes charm and fascinates those who visit; from history lovers to art fanatics, Italy’s capital has something for everyone. And whether you book a visit to the Colosseum or take a free walking tour, Rome will truly wow you.
So what could you see on a free walking tour? Rome is full of historical monuments, beautiful architecture, vibrant public spaces and stunning viewpoints. Below are some of the best things to see in Rome - if you don’t want to go it alone, Dark Rome offers multiple tours focused on various attractions across the city.
The Trevi Fountain
Famous worldwide, the Trevi Fountain is iconic - and for good reason. It is beautiful, and was designed by architect Nicola Salvi in the 1760s and is the largest baroque fountain in the world. Always surrounded by crowds, it is said that if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain you’ll be sure to return to Rome. These coins are regularly collected and donated to a social supermarket which feeds poor and vulnerable members of society in the city. Restored by fashion company Fendi in 2014-15, the fountain is located in Piazza di Trevi and should definitely be on your to-do list on a vacation to Rome!
What was once a Roman temple is now a Catholic church - and it is absolutely stunning. A cylindrical building with a rectangular vestibule to the front, and a coffered concrete dome on top, the architecture is simply awe-inspiring. The Pantheon, located at Piazza della Rotonda, is one of the most well-preserved Ancient Roman buildings. It is a state property, and a popular tourist attraction. It is visited by over 6 million people every year. The dome was unique at the time, though it has been replicated numerous times since; it has a central oculus which is the main source of natural light, and it provides a special glow inside the Pantheon. It should definitely be a spot on your free walking tour - Rome has so much to see, and this is a highlight.
The Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps are an iconic staircase separating Piazza di Spagna at the bottom and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, with its dominating church, at the top. In the spring these steps are lined with beautiful fragrant flowers, and year round they act as a meeting place and a famous tourist attraction. There are 135 steps, built in the 1720s - the Spanish Steps were designed by architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi. The steps were featured in the 1953 movie Roman Holiday, as well as The Talented Mr Ripley in 1999. The two piazzas are home to various bars and restaurants, making it the perfect area to rest during your free walking tour. Rome has many tourist attractions, but even more places to eat and drink!
The most iconic site in Rome? It has to be the Colosseum - the Flavian Amphitheater, which has a dark and bloody history. It saw gladiator fights, mock sea battles, executions and various trials during its active years; it could hold up to 80,000 spectators at any one time, and it was a hub of activity for the Roman Empire. A visit to the Colosseum is truly like stepping back in time, and it is one Italy’s most recognizable monuments. There are various nearby restaurants that allow you to dine with a view of the Colosseum, and this is a really special way to experience it - especially if you go for a late evening meal and catch the sunset.
The Aventine Keyhole
For a special and completely unique view of the Vatican, head to the Aventine Keyhole during your free walking tour. Rome has many viewpoints, but this one is incredible. See St. Peter’s Dome in the distance, framed by greenery and shadows. The keyhole is part of property owned by the Priory of the Knights of Malta, and provides a one-of-a-kind way of seeing the amazing dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. While it’s not in the city center, it is worth going out of your way during a free walking tour. Rome is full of hidden gems!
The Orange Garden
If you have had your fill of fountains and churches, head to the Orange Garden. The Giardino degli aranci is a park on the Aventine Hill, offering an amazing view of the city. The modern garden was designed in 1932 by Raffaele De Vico, in order to offer the public a view from this side of the hill. It gets its name from the multitude of bitter orange trees growing there, and it is a great place to sit back, relax and watch the world go by.
Another great place to people-watch is Piazza Navona. It is a beautiful open space, with pastel buildings and a stunning fountain, it is one of the most famous and lovely areas of Rome. The architecture is iconic, and set against the beautiful blues skies of a summer day in Rome it makes for the picture-perfect setting. There are cafés, bars and restaurants nearby, and a peaceful atmosphere all around.
There are so many places to visit on a free walking tour. Rome has an incredible amount of history and culture, and this is a great way to see it. Dark Rome also offers walking tours with expert, English-speaking guides as well as guided tours of the Colosseum, the Vatican, the crypts and catacombs below the city as well as day trips to nearby Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. The Eternal City is an amazing place for a vacation, and one that is one so many people’s bucket lists - for good reason!