Do-It-Yourself Tour Itinerary-Historical City Center

Half the fun of Rome is discovering things on your own. Here is an intinerary that will get you to important sites, but leave room for exploration. Bring a map and don’t be afraid to ask for directions e.g.  “Mi scusi, dov’è Piazza Navona?” (Excuse me, where is Piazza Navona?). Romans are generally helpful, speak a little English, and of course are quite eloquent in the language of gesture.
  • This itinerary, in abbreviated form, makes for a nice after dinner stroll. If you start from Piazza Barberini (that way everything is downhill) you will find yourself in a noisy intersection with a lovely fountain in the middle. This is the Triton Fountain made by Bernini for Pope Urban VIII in 1640.

  • Take the tree-lined Via Veneto up a few steps and you will see a church at the top of a high double staircase. This is Santa Maria della Concezione Immaculata, built for the Capuchin friars in 1630. It is famous for its crypt, which is decorated with the bones of 4,000 monks. The structure has been completely revamped into a museum that is open everyday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and costs 6 euro. This little attached museum is very interesting when trying to understand the role of the Capuchins and their huge success – Padre Pio, Italy’s favorite saint, was a Capuchin as well as the  Cardinal of Boston, Sean O’Malley, and the Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput. The crypt is meant to open the mind to the perspective of death in Christianity. It has a moving painting - St. Francis Contemplating Mortality by Caravaggio – intelligently placed in a room with several other variations on this topic so that one can see what makes Caravaggio so special in this theme.


  • From here, you can walk down Via Tritone and window shop at the leather goods and clothing shops (better bargains than Via Condotti), until you reach Via della Panetteria. When walking away from Piazza Barberini, this will be on your left. Along this road is one of Rome’s best gelato shops, San Crispino.


  • At the end of Via della Panetteria turn right onto Via del Lavatore and walk down one block to…surprise!…the Trevi Fountain. It’s designed to make you catch your breath because you never see it coming. Throw two coins over your shoulder, one for a wish and one to return to Rome. Dodge the persistent sellers of selfie sticks, flowers or squishy toys, and walk along the right-hand side of the fountain on Via della Stamperia. You will end up on Via del Tritone again. Cross at the light (push the button on the stoplight pole or you will be there until the next Jubilee) and walk down the funny little pedestrian alley right in front of you. A few steps down you will pass the remains of the Roman aquaduct, the Aqua Virgo on your left, which is the source of the Trevi Fountain.

  • Take Via di Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to the church of the same name and peek in to see two angels carved by Bernini (Bernini lived across the street in the building next to the one with the plaque on it. 

  • Continue on Via Propaganda and you will end up in the Piazza di Spagna by the Spanish StepsThis is a chic shopping area and a fun people-watching spot. If you can tear yourselves away from the glittering shop windows, you might want to continue down Via del Babuino to the Piazza del Popolo, one of Rome’s loveliest piazzas. The little church next to the arched gateway is Santa Maria del Popolo and it contains a chapel designed by Raphael and is decorated with two Bernini statues. It also contains Caravaggio’s outstanding paintings; The Conversion of St. Paul and Crucifixion of St. Peter. It is open 7:00am-noon and 4:00pm to 7:00pm.

© 2019 by  Elizabeth Lev All Rights Reserved