The walks suggested here last between one and three hours. The first, along the perfectly straight Via Giulia, gives a vivid impression of the Renaissance city. The second is outside the central sightseeing area, along the best-known of all Roman roads, the Via Appia Antica; parts of it are intact after more than 2,000 years. For visitors who wish to savour the glory of ancient Rome, there is a walk taking in the surviving triumphal arches of the emperors. A tour of early Christian churches with well preserved mosaics will appeal to those who prefer the Middle Ages. The final walk takes in picturesque quarters on either side of the Tiber, the river that has played such an important part in the city's development.
Laid out by Bramante for Pope Julius II in the early 16th century, Via Giulia was the first Renaissance street to slice through Rome's jumble of medieval alleys. The original plan included new law courts in a central piazza, but this project was abandoned for lack of cash. The street is now occupied mainly by antique shops and furniture restorers. On summer evenings it is lit with hundreds of oil lamps, and cloisters and courtyards provide romantic settings for a season of concerts.
From Lungotevere to Largo della Moretta: Starting from Lungotevere dei Tebaldi (1) at the eastern end of Via Giulia, you will see ahead of you an archway (2) spanning the road. This was the start of Michelangelo's unrealised project linking Palazzo Farnese and its gardens with the Villa Farnesina on the other side of the river.
Just before you reach the archway, you will see to your left the curious Fontana del Mascherone (3), in which an ancient grotesque mask and granite basin were combined to create a Baroque fountain. Beyond the Farnese archway on the left is the lively Baroque facade of the church of Santa Maria dell' Orazione e Morte (4). A bit further along on the same side of the road stands Palazzo Falconieri (5), enlarged by Borromini in 1650. Note its two stone falcons glowering at each other across the width of the facade. On the other side of the road you pass the yellowish facade of Santa Caterina da Siena (6), church of the Sienese colony in Rome, which has pretty 18th-century reliefs. The figures of Romulus and Remus symbolise Rome and Siena - there is a legend that the city of Siena was founded by the less fortunate of the twins. After passing the short street that leads down to Sant' Eligio degli Orefici (7) and Palazzo Ricci (8), you come to an area of half-demolished buildings around the ruined church of San Filippo Neri (9), called Largo della Moretta. If you look to the left down to the river, you can see Ponte Mazzini and the huge prison of Regina Coeli on the other side of the Tiber. At this point you may like to make a small detour to the right to the beginning of Via del Pellegrino, where there is an inscription (10) defining the boundary of the city at the time of the Emperor Claudius.
Tips for walkers
Starting point: Lungotevere dei Tebaldi, by Ponte Sisto.
Length: 1 km (just over half a mile), lasting about one hour.
Getting there: Take either a 46, 62 or 64 to Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, then walk down Via dei Pettinari, or a 23, 65 or 280 along Lungotevere.
Best time for walk: On summer evenings the street is lit by oil lamps. At Christmas, there are cribs on display in shop
Stopping-off points: There are bars in Via Giulia, at Nos 21 and 84. Campo de' Fiori has better bars, with outdoor tables and a wide choice of places to eat. These include a Chinese restaurant in Via dei Giubbonari and a fried-fish restaurant in Piazza Santa Barbara dei Librai (closed Sunday).
From Largo della Moretta to the Sofas of Via Giulia: Further on, facing the narrow Vicolo del Malpasso are the imposing prisons, the Carceri Nuove (11), built by Pope Innocent X Pamfili in 1655. When first opened, they were a model of humane treatment of prisoners, but were replaced by the Regina Coeli prison across the river at the end of the 19th century. The buildings now house offices of the Ministry of Justice and a small Museum of Crime.
At the corner of Via del Gonfalone, a small side street running down to the river, you can see part of the foundations of Pope Julius II's planned law courts. Just down the street stands the small Oratorio di Santa Lucia del Gonfalone (12), which is often used for concerts
The next interesting facade is Carlo Rainaldi's 17th-century Santa Maria del Suffragio (13) on the left. On the same side is San Biagio degli Armeni (14), the Armenian church in Rome. It is often referred to by local people as San Biagio della Panotta (of the loaf of bread). The nick-name originates from the traditional distribution of bread to the poor that took place on the saint's feast day. On the corner there are more travertine blocks belonging to the foundations of Julius II's projected law courts, known because of their shape as the 'Sofas of Via Giulia'.
The Florentine Quarter: Your next stop should be the imposing Palazzo Sacchetti at No 66 (15). Originally this was the house of Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, the architect of Palazzo Farnese, but it was greatly enlarged by later owners. The porticoed courtyard houses a 15th-century madonna and a striking Roman relief dating from the 3rd century AD. Just opposite Palazzo Sacchetti, note the beautiful late-Renaissance portal of Palazzo Donatelli (16).
The 16th-century house at No 93 is richly decorated with stuccoes and coats of arms (17). No 85 is another typical Renaissance palazzo with a heavily rusticated ground floor (18). There is a tradition that, like many houses of the period, it once belonged to Raphael. Palazzo Clatelli (19) was built by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger as his own house. The inscription above the doorway bears the name of Duke Cosimo II de' Medici, whose family later bought the palazzo.
This whole area used to be inhabited by a flourishing Florentine colony, which had its own water mills built on pontoons along the river
Tiber. The community's national church is San Giovanni dei Fiorentini (20), the final great landmark at the end of the Via Giulia walk. Many Florentine artists and architects had a hand in its design, including Sangallo and Jacopo Sansovino.
VIA APPIA ANTICA
TIPS FOR WALKERS
Starting point: Tomb of Cecilia Metella.
Length: 3km (2 miles), around 90 minutes.
Getting there: Take the 118 bus from San Giovanni in Laterano or the Colosseum. On the way back, the 118 goes along the Via Appia Pignatelli. Allow plenty of time for waiting for the bus.
Best time to walk: Early, before it gets hot.
Stopping-off points: There is a bar near the church of Domine Quo Vadis, but it is best to bring your own refreshment. There are several established restaurants on the first stretch, including the Cecilia Metella, Via Appia Antica 125/127 (closed Monday).
Lined with cypresses and pines as it was when the ancient Romans came here by torchlight to bury their dead, the Via Appia is wonderfully atmospheric. The fields are strewn with ruined tombs set against the picturesque background of the Alban hills to the south. Although the marble or travertine stone facings of most tombs have been plundered, a few statues and reliefs survive or have been replaced by copies.
Capo di Bove: Start from the Tomb of Cecilia Metella (1). In the Middle Ages this area acquired the name Capo di Bove (ox head) on acount of the frieze of festoons and ox heads which is still visible on the tomb. On the other side of the road you can see the ruined Gothic church of San Nicola (2) which, like the Tomb of Cecilia Metella, was part of the medieval fortress of the Caetani family.
Proceed to the crossroads (3), where many original Roman paving slabs, huge blocks of extremely durable volcanic basalt, are still in place. Just past the next turning (Via Capo di Bove), you will see on your left the nucleus of a great mausoleum overgrown with ivy, which is known as the Torre di Capo di Bove (4). Beyond it, on both sides of the Via Appia, are other tombs, some of them still capped with the remains of the medieval towers that were built over them.
On the right after passing some private villas, you come to a military zone around the Forte Appio (5), one of a series of forts built around the city in the 19th century. On the left, a little further on, stand the ruins of the Tomb of Marcus Servilius (6), showing fragments of reliefs excavated in 1808 by the Neo-Classical sculptor Antonio Canova. He was one of the first to work on the principle that excavated tombs and their inscriptions and reliefs should be allowed to remain in situ. On the other side of the road stands a tomb with a relief of a man, naked except for a short cape, known as the 'Heroic Relief' (7). On the left of the road are the ruins of the so-called Tomb of Seneca (8). The great moralist Seneca owned a villa near here, where he committed suicide AD 65 on the orders of Nero.
The next major tomb is that of the family of Sixtus Pompeus the Righteous, a freed slave of the 1st century AD (9). The verse inscription records the father's sadness at having to bury his own children, who died young.
From Via del Lugari to Via di Tor Carbone: Just past Via del Lugari on the right is the Tomb of Pope St Urban (reigned 222-230) (10). Set back from the road on the left stands a large ruined podium, probably part of a Temple of Jupiter (11). The next stretch was excavated by the architect Luigi Canina early in the 19th century. On the right is the Tomb of Caius Licinius (12), followed by a smaller Doric tomb (13) and the imposing Tomb of Hilarius Fuscus (14), with five portrait busts in relief of members of his family. Next comes the Tomb of Tiberius Claudius Secondinus (15), where a group of freedmen of the Imperial household were buried in the 2nd century AD.
Passing a large ruined columbarium, you reach the Tomb of Quintus Apuleius (16) and the reconstructed Tomb of the Rabirii freed slaves (1st century BC) (17). This has a frieze of three half- length figures above an inscription. The figure on the right is a priestess of Isis. Behind her you can see the outline of a sistrum, the metal rattle used at ceremonies of the cult. The majority of the tombs are little more than shapeless stacks of eroded brickwork. Two exceptions in the last stretch of this walk are the Tomb of the Festoons (18), with its reconstructed frieze of festive putti, and the Tomb of the Frontispiece (19), which has a copy of a relief with four portraits. The two central figures are holding hands.
When you reach Via di Tor Carbone, the Via Appia still stretches out ahead in a straight line. If you wish to extend your walk, there are many more tombs and villas to visit along the way.
Rome's greatest gift to architecture was the arch. In Imperial times, triumphal arches were erected to honour an emperor's campaign victories almost as a matter of course, promoting his personal cult and ensuring his subsequent deification. Spectacular processions passed through these arches. Conquering generals, cheered by rapturous crowds, rode in their chariots to the Capitol, accompanied by their legions bearing spoils from their campaigns.
Arches of the Forum: This walk through the Forum and around the base of the Palatine takes in Rome's three great surviving triumphal arches and two arches of more humble design that were used simply as places of business. It starts from the Arch of Emperor Septimius Severus (1) and his sons Geta and Caracalla in the Forum. Erected in AD 203, it celebrates a Middle Eastern campaign. Eight years later when Caracalla had his brother killed, all mention of Geta was erased from the inscription.
Look up at the reliefs showing phases of the campaigns. Set in tiers, they are probably the sculptural counterparts of the paintings illustrating the general's feats that were borne aloft in the triumphal procession. On the right, the inhabitants of a fortified city surrender to the Roman's siege machines. Below are smaller friezes showing the triumphal procession itself.
Heading east, make your way through the Forum to the ruins of the Temple of Julius Caesar (2). The temple was built by Augustus in 42 BC, on the site where Caesar's body was cremated after Mark Antony's famous funerary oration. A nearby sign marks the ruins of the Arch of Augustus (3), spanning the Via Sacra between the Temple of Castor and Pollux (4) and the Temple of Caesar. This arch, erected after Augustus had defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra, was demolished in 1545, and its materials used in the new St Peter's. From here, proceed uphill towards
the elegant Arch of Titus (5). Compared with Septimius Severus's arch, it shows an earlier, simpler style. Look up at the beautiful lettering of the inscription before you examine the bas-reliefs. These show Roman legionaries carrying the spoils looted from Jerusalem, heralds holding plaques with the names of vanquished peoples and cities, and Titus riding in triumph in his chariot.
The medieval Frangipane family turned the Colosseum into a vast and impregnable stronghold and incorporated the Arch of Titus into their fortifications. Notice the wheelmarks scratched on the inside walls of the arch by generations of carts; they indicate the steady rise in the level of the Forum before it was eventually excavated in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Arch of Constantine: Leave the Forum by heading down the hill towards the Colosseum (6) and the nearby Arch of Constantine (7). This arch, hastily built to commemorate the emperor's victory over his rival Maxentius in AD 312, is a patch-
work of reliefs from different periods. Stand on the Via di San Gregorio side and compare the earlier panels at the top (AD 180-193) with the hectic battle scenes just above the smaller arches, sculpted in AD 315. In the curious dwarf-like soldiers, you can see the transition from Classicism to a cruder medieval style of sculpture.
Now take Via di San Gregorio, which runs along the valley between the Palatine and Celian hills. This was the route taken by most triumphal processions. Passing the entrance to the Palatine (8) and the arches of the Claudian Aqueduct (9) on the right, you come to Piazza di Porta Capena (10), named after the gate that stood here to mark the beginning of the Via Appia. After rounding the back of the Palatine, follow Via dei Cerchi, which runs alongside the grassy area that preserves the oval outline of the Circus Maximus (11).
Arches of the Forum Boarium: When you reach the church of Sant' Anastasia (12), turn right up the Via de San Teodoro, then first left down the Via del Velabro. Straddling the street is the four- sided Arch of Janus (13), erected in the 3rd century AD. This is not a triumphal arch but a covered area where merchants could take shelter from the sun or rain when discussing business. Like the Arch of Titus, it became part of a fortress built by the Frangipane family during the Middle Ages.
Tucked away beside the nearby church of San Giorgio in Velabro (14) is what looks like a large rectangular doorway. This is Arco degli Argentari or Moneychanger's Arch (15). Look up at the incription, which says that it was erected by local silversmiths in honour of Septimius Severus and his family in AD 204. As in the emperor's triumphal arch, the name of Geta has been obliterated. Triumph in Imperial Rome could be short-lived.
Tips for walkers
Starting point: The Roman Forum, entrance Largo Romolo e Remo, on Via dei Fori Imperiali.
Length: 2.5km (1.5 miles), lasting about 90 minutes.
Getting there: The nearest metro station is Colosseo on line B. Buses 11, 27, 81, 85, 87, 186 stop in Via dei Fori Imperiali, near the Forum entrance.
Best time for walk: Any time of the day during Forum opening hours is suitable.
Stopping-off points: Several bars and restaurants overlook the Colosseum. There is a small bar in Via dei Cerchi and a smarter one behind San Giorgio in Velabro, in Piazza San Giovanni Decollato.
In imitation of the audience chambers of Imp-
erial palaces, Rome's early Christian churches were decorated with colourful mosaics. These were pieced together from cubes of marble, coloured stone and fragments of glass. To create
a golden background, gold leaf was placed between pieces of glass. These were then heated
so that they fused. The glorious colours and subjects portrayed gave the faithful a glimpse of the heavenly court of the King of Kings. This walk concentrates on a few of the churches decorated in this wonderful medium.
San Giovanni: Start from Piazza di Porta San Giovanni, where you can visit the heavily restored mosaic that was originally in the banqueting hall of Pope Leo III (reigned 795-816) (1), showing Christ among the Apostles. On the left are Pope Sylvester and the Emperor Constantine, on the right, Pope Leo and Charlemagne just before he was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in AD 800. Inside the church of San Giovanni in Laterano (2) the 13th-century apse mosaic shows Christ as he appeared miraculously during the consecration of the church. In the panels by the windows, look for the small figures of two Franciscan friars: these are the artists Jacopo Torriti (left) and Jacopo de Camerino (right). Leave by the exit on the right near the splendid 16th-century organ and head for the octagonal Baptistry of San Giovanni (3), where the Chapel of Santa Rufina has a beautiful apse mosaic in green, azure and gold, dating from the 5th century. In the neighbouring Chapel of San Venanzio, there are golden 7th-century mosaics, showing the strong influence of the Eastern Church at this time.
Santo Stefano Rotondo to San Clemente: Leave the piazza by the narrow road that leads to the round church of Santo Stefano Rotondo (4). One of its chapels contains a 7th-century Byzantine mosaic honouring two martyrs buried here. Further on, in Piazza della Navicella, is the church of Santa Maria in Domnica (5). It houses the superb mosaics commissioned by Pope Paschal I, who gave new impetus to Rome's mosaic production in the 9th century. He is represented kneeling beside the Virgin. On leaving the church, notice the facade of San Tommaso in Formis (6), which has a charming mosaic of Christ flanked by two freed slaves, one black and one white, dating from the 13th century. From here, head up the steep hill, past the forbidding apse of Santi Quattro Coronati (7) to the fascinating church of San Clemente (8). Its 12th-century apse mosaic shows the cross set in a swirling pattern of acanthus leaves. San Clemente also has a fine 12th-century Cosmatesque mosaic floor.
The Colle Oppio: Passing the old entrance to the church, cross Via Labicana and walk up the hill to the small Colle Oppio park (9). This has fine views of the Colosseum and contains the ruins of Nero's Golden House (10) and the Baths of Trajan (11). Across the park lie San Martino ai Monti (12), which has a 6th-century mosaic portrait of Pope St Sylvester in the crypt, and Santa Prassede (13). Here the Chapel of St Zeno contains the most important Byzantine mosaics in Rome, reminiscent of the fabulous mosaics of Ravenna. Pope Paschal I erected the chapel as a mausoleum for his mother, Theodora. The apse and triumphal arch of the church itself also have fine mosaics. When you move on to Santa Maria Maggiore (14), go to the column in the centre of the piazza in front of the church to see the beautiful 14th-century facade mosaics by Filippo Rusuti. Inside, the 5th-century mosaics in the nave depict Old Testament stories, while the triumphal arch has scenes relating to the birth of Christ, including one of the Magi wearing striped stockings. In the apse there is a Coronation of the Virgin by Jacopo Torriti (1295).
On leaving Santa Maria, pass the obelisk (15) in the piazza behind the church and go downhill to Via Urbana and Santa Pudenziana (16). The figures in the apse mosaic, one of the oldest in Rome (AD 390), are remarkable for their naturalism. The two women with crowns are traditionally identified as Santa Prassede and Santa Pudenziana. When you leave the church, you can either retrace your steps to Santa Maria Maggiore or walk down Via Urbana to Via Cavour metro station.
Tips for walkers
Starting point: Piazza di Porta San Giovanni.
Length: 3.5km (2 miles), lasting about three hours.
Getting there: The nearest metro station is San Giovanni, on line A, in Piazzale Appio, just outside Porta San Giovanni. The 81, 85, 87 buses and the 13 and 30b trams stop in front of San Giovanni in Laterano.
Best time for walk: It is advisable to go in the morning, to see the mosaics in the best light.
Stopping-off points: The bars and restaurants in Piazza del Colosseo are popular with artists, who like to draw the Colosseum on the paper tablecloths. In the Parco del Colle Oppio there is a kiosk with tables. There are several bars around Santa Maria Maggiore.
Rome owes its existence to the Tiber; the city grew up around an easy fording point where a marketplace developed. The river could also be a hazard: torrent- like, it flooded the city every winter up to 1870, when work began on the massive Lungotevere embankments that run along both sides of it. These provide many fine views from points along their avenues of plane trees. The walk also explores the neighbourhoods along the riverside, in particular the Jewish Ghetto
and Trastevere, which have preserved much of their character from earlier periods.
From the old port of Rome to Via dei Funari: Starting from the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin (1), cross the piazza to the Temples of the Forum Boarium (2). This was the cattle market that stood near the city's river port. The river here has preserved two less obvious structures from ancient Rome: the mouth of the Cloaca Maxima (3), the city's great sewer, and one arch of a ruined bridge known as the Ponte Rotto (4). In Via di Ponte Rotto stands the extraordinary medieval Casa dei Crescenzi (5), decorated with fragments of Roman temples. Passing the modern Anagrafe (public records office) (6), built on the site of the old Roman port, you come to San Nicola in Carcere (7).
You are now in the Foro Olitorio, Rome's ancient vegetable market. To the east stand the ruins of a Roman portico and the medieval house of the Pierleoni family. Head for the massive Theatre of Marcellus (8) and look for the three Corinthian columns of the Temple of Apollo beside it. Turn into Piazza Campitelli and walk up to Santa Maria in Campitelli (9). The church honours a miraculous image of the Virgin credited with halting the plague in 1656. The 16th-century piazza was the home of Flaminio Ponzio, its architect, who lived at No 6. Take Via dei Delfini to Piazza Margana, where you should look up at the 14th- century tower of the Margani family (10). Retrace your steps, then go up Via dei Funari to the 16th-century facade of Santa Caterina dei Funari (11).
The Ghetto: From Piazza Lovatelli take Via Sant Angelo in Pescheria, which leads to the ruined Portico of Octavia (12) in the Jewish Ghetto. The Roman portico, once Rome's fish market, houses the church of Sant' Angelo in Pescheria. (Fish longer than the marble plaque on the facade were given to the city's governors.) Turn into the ghetto: two column stumps belonging to the portico stand in front of a patched-up doorway made of fragments of Roman sculpture. The cramped buildings and streets around Via del Portico d'Ottavia are typical of old Rome: see the Casa di Lorenzo Manilio (13) and turn down Via delle Cinque Scole, past Palazzo Cenci (14), towards the river. On Lungotevere walk past the synagogue (15) to the small church of San Gregorio (16). Here stood the gates of the ghetto, which were locked at sundown.
Across the river to Trastevere: Crossing to Tiber Island by Ponte Fabricio, with its two ancient stone heads, you enjoy a good view in both directions. On the island itself, you should not miss the Pierleoni Tower (17) or the church of San Bartolomeo all'Isola (18).
Trastevere: As you cross into Trastevere, you can see the medieval house of the powerful Mattei family (19), with its fragments of ancient sculpture. Beyond it, Piazza in Piscinula and the surrounding streets retain much of the spirit of old Trastevere. Walk up to the start of Viale di Trastevere at Piazza Belli. After crossing the road look back at the medieval tower of the Anguillara (20) and the statue honouring the poet Gioacchino Belli (21). As you go down Via della Lungaretta to Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, don't miss the old-fashioned chemist's shop at No 7. The piazza itself, in front of the magnificent church of Santa Maria in Trastevere (22), has a cheerful atmosphere and the fountain steps are a favourite meeting place. Go back a little way to Via del Moro. This leads to Piazza Trilussa, dominated by the fountain of the Acqua Paola (23), where you emerge on to the bank of the river again. Note the life-like statue near the fountain of the Roman poet Trilussa. From Ponte Sisto (24), look back to Tiber Island and, beyond it, to the medieval bell tower of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, set against pine trees on the summit of the Palatine.
TIPS FOR WALKERS
Starting point: Piazza della Bocca della Verita.
Length: 3.5km (2 miles), lasting about two hours.
Getting there: The 15, 23, 57, 90, 90B, 92 and 95 buses all stop near Santa Maria in Cosmedin.
Best time for walk: This walk can be particularly romantic in the evenings, but remains enjoyable at any time.
Stopping-off points: Piazza Campitelli and Piazza Margana have typical Roman restaurants, and Via del Portico d'Ottavia has two kosher restaurants and a bakery. Tiber Island has a bar and the famous Sora Lella restaurant. In Viale di Trastevere there are bars and pizzerias of all kinds. Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere has lively bars and restaurants with outdoor tables.
Text extracted and maps adapted from the
'Eyewitness Travel Guide: Rome', published by Dorling Kindersley on 9 September, price pounds 14.99. Available from all good bookshops, or to order by credit card (Visa, Access or American Express) (0621 819600), 8.30am-5pm.Reuse content