Rome is a beautiful city perfect for exploring on foot. This is a short walk of about two kilometres. You could add this to the route from the Spanish Steps to the Piazza Navona if you fancy a bit longer walk. The walk will take you from the Piazza Navona, along the old street of Via dei Coronari, over the Ponte Sant’Angelo and past the Castel Sant’Angelo arriving in St Peter’s Square along the Via della Conciliazione.
This walk is full of interest. Apart from crossing a couple of busy roads, most of the route is on narrow streets where there is little or no traffic. The final section leading to St Peter’s Square is on a busy road, but with wide pavements.
1. Piazza Navona. This is one of the most beautiful squares in Rome and also one of the largest. The square has three impressive fountains including Bernini‘s famous la Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi “Fountain of the Four Rivers” with a large obelisk at its centre. An impressive backdrop is provided by the baroque church of Sant’Agnese. All around the square are restaurants, street artists and painters. which gives the square a lively atmosphere.
The Piazza used to be the Stadium of Domitian where sports events and festivals took place. In the 15th Century, the square was paved over to create what you see today. This is why the Piazza has an oval shape.
2. Via Agonale. Start at the northern end of the Piazza (where the Fontana de Nettuno is located) and exit using the short Via Agonale.
3. Piazza di Tor Sanguigna. At the end of Via Agonale turn left into the small Piazza.
4. Via dei Coronari. At the end of the Piazza di Tor Sanguigna, the main road bends around to the right. On the bend are two roads leading off the main road. Ignore the first one and take the narrower road that leads straight on. This is the Via dei Coronari.
Via dei Coronari
5. Via dei Coronari. Stay on this long straight street for a while. Many of the buildings date from the 15th and the 16th century. There are plenty of small cafes and shops lining the street. A lot of the shops sell (very expensive) antiques and it is perhaps the most picturesque street in the old city. It still manages to retain some of the character of a Renaissance street.
Image source – Alan & Flora Botting Flickr.com
6. Piazza dei Coronari. When you reach this small piazza, there is a crossroads with a major road, the Via di Panico.
7. Via di Panico, Turn right onto the Via di Panico towards the river.
8. Ponte Sant’Angelo. Once you reach the river use the public crossing that takes you over the busy road onto the Ponte Sant’Angelo, a bridge across the river to the Castel Sant’Angelo.
The Ponte Sant’Angelo is a very attractive bridge which was built in 134AD. This bridge is pedestrian and always busy with street performers and people just out walking. On either side of the bridge are statues of angels which were added much later. Two of the angels were made by Bernini. However, these have now been replaced by replicas.
9. Castel Sant’Angelo. The National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo is also known as The Mausoleum of Hadrian. Built over 2,000 years ago, the building was later turned into a fortress and was used as a refuge for several Popes.
Once you have crossed the river turn left in front of the Castel Sant’Angelo and you’ll catch your first sight of St Peter’s in the distance directly ahead.
10. Via della Conciliazione. This wide street is very straight and connects the Castel Sant’Angelo with St Peter’s Square.
11. St Peter’s Square. I have a separate guide which has information about St Peter’s Square and the St Peter’s Basilica.
Other things to do in Rome
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