Kim and I went for a walk in Rome.
One of the delightful things we have learned from traveling so much is to take a walk through any new city in which we find ourselves without looking at a map, guidebook, or “top 10 things to see in _____” website.
What makes this so delightful are the surprises. Something like St. Peter’s Square, the Blue Mosque, or Wat Arun is spectacular to see when you are looking and expecting to see them. However, it’s almost a shock to the body to turn a corner and come upon these great sites unexpectedly.
We stumbled on this marvelous way to see a new city during our first trip to Florence, Italy. We’d just arrived at our apartment after a few hours on the train and needed a walk and a drink. So we dropped off our gear and hit the streets for a walk with no idea what was around us or where the sites were located. A few minutes into the walk we turned the corner and were unexpectedly standing in the Piazza Del Duomo with the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore towering in front of us.
If you’ve been to Florence you can imagine that most of our walk that evening was filled with similar awe-inspiring surprises.
Currently we are in Rome. Of course, we know what part of the city we are in but we don’t know exactly where everything is located in relation to our front door. We know we are a few blocks from the Vatican and the Tiber River but that’s about it – and that’s how we like to keep it the first day. We want to be surprised and delighted on our first excursion.
Our Walk In Rome
So, we went for our Walk In Rome.
It was everything we expected: the unexpected. Three blocks from the apartment we walked through an unassuming (unassuming for Rome) arch and there we came face to face with the pillars surrounding St. Peter’s Square!
We walked up the boulevard leading to St. Peter’s Square and ran into Hadrian’s Mausoleum. This was not even on our list of sites to see. Then we crossed the Tiber River via St. Angelo Bridge. St. Angelo Bridge was built in 134 CE.
We zigzagged through narrow alleys, crossed grand and small piazzas, and stopped for a Maritozzo.
Our Rome Walk took us past grand unnamed buildings, still used as offices and apartments. We stumbled on expected sites and climbed the Spanish Steps and threw 3 coins into Trevi Fountain.
We stumbled on unexpected sites like Altare della Patria (Altar Of The Fatherland).
The Tiber River is cool and shaded so we walked along its banks. Far across town, a group of locals was building a garden in a local piazza. I stopped to ask what they were doing and were invited to join them later in the week to collect native plants along the Tiber to put in the new garden.
We ate fried artichokes in the Jewish Quarter and early in the evening, starving from walking, we ducked into a local panini shop. We were expecting typical Italian paninis what was delivered was unexpectedly massive and delicious. We ate so much we had to Uber home.
The walk was random, aimless, and delightful. Because of it now we know a bit of Rome and where things are located. What a great way to spend our first day in Rome!
Next time you are in a new city, forget the guided tour and even the map and just take a walk. It’s the best way to spend the first day and you’ll have an amazing experience.