Almost every road in Rome has stories to tell, could show you the true heart of Rome or feed your soul (and tummy!)
Here’s our list of top 5 Streets in Rome.
Each one of these streets is perfectly ordinary – and absolutely unique! We think our top 5 streets will spark your curiosity about the smaller details of Roman life, art, history, culture, food … we’ve given you the Google Maps link to each one so you can use street view and take a virtual tour!
Via Giulia: in the name of the Pope!
This is one of the “new” streets in Rome, it dates from the 16th century and is snuggled between Campo dei Fiori area and the Tiber River.
Pope Jiulius II commissioned Donato Bramante to create this street to connect the city with the Vatican and as a place for administrative offices. In some ways it is a little piece of Tuscany in Rome, with many of the great Tuscan and Florentine families having their Roman digs here – the Farnese who put a fountain in the street that you can still see, made from a recycled Roman bath and mask feature.
Do you see the fleur di lys on the top of the fountain? That’s the symbol of the Farnese family – and now you can have fun wandering through the rest of Rome (and Italy) spotting their property!
Do you see the pretty arch way? That’s Arco Farnese, part of a planned walk way to link Palazzo Farnese with the secret gardens at Trastevere’s Villa Farnesina, but Michelangelo never managed to complete it.
Via Giulia stretches for 1 kilometre, almost linking Ponte Savoia by the Vatican to Ponte Sisto. Along the way you will spot the grand palazzi of other influential families and the church of Santa Maria dell’Orazione, a reminder of the others of Rome, the nameless ones – those who died homeless or were drowned in the Tiber – they were, who were brought here and given a Christian burial.
This is, in all, one of the prettiest streets in Rome and a lovely place to explore and stroll after our Highlights of Rome tour.
Vicolo dell’Atleta: secrets in…a wine cell!
This is a chance to walk around a part of Trastevere that some people skip through without realising its significance. Here on this street is one of the first Synagogues in Rome – yes the Jewish community has a long history in the city which has always been home to different groups of migrants since the days of Republic and empire.
What is left of the 13th century synagogue can be seen at number 14. If you want a peek inside the building, just go around the corner to restaurant Spirito Divino in via Genovesi which has part of its dining area within the building (or if you are having dinner there, ask the owner to show you the exact place where they found it! It’s the restaurant’s wine cell!!)
This street is also famous for a treasured sculpture discovered here. Apxyomenos – The Scraper, created by Lysippos of Sikyon – is an athlete cleaning his body with a Roman tool called a strigil. Apparently Tiberius took quite a fancy to the statue and had it moved to his bedroom. That is until the populace of Rome shamed him by yelling “give us back our Apoxyomenos!”. He returned it to its original place but it was eventually lost probably during the chaos at the end of the Empire and all that business with barbarian hordes – until 1849. If you would like to see what the big fuss was all about, Apoxyomenos is now at the Vatican Museums. We think a walk along this part of Trastevere is a lovely thing to do after our Tour of the Jewish District , one of our Food Tours or our tour of Trastevere
Via Urbana: in the name of the Pope #2
Via Urbana is many people’s first introduction to the lovely quarter of Monti and Monti is the very definition of eclectic, with its mash-mash of old, old, old style urban Rome and modern street-smart flair.
The amazing Grezzo is here – the raw, vegan chocolate house – if that’s you’re kind of thing. Close by on a teeny tiny piazza above via Urbana is the wonderful deliciousness of Fata Morgana and their hand crafted gelato. There’s lots of food here, Aromaticus’ fresh herb infusions, Urbana47’s colourful gourmet, or the traditional piece of pizza bianca from Panificio Monti … But food isn’t the only thing to find on via Urbana – there are boutiques that are part store and part atelier, where young designers from around Europe sell what you can sometimes watch them making.
There’s a design studio with its fascinating creations in the window that’ll make you wonder how they came up with their ideas, there are antique and second hand stores where you can buy trinkets to remind you of Rome. If you need some serious culture in between your shopping and eating, you might be interested to know that the streets is named after Pope Urban VIII and that Monti became Monti because of Napoleon’s enjoyment in reorganising conquered cities. Did you know that the original folks of Monti have their own version of the Roman dialect, much like their ancient rivals, the folks from Trastevere?
There’s a 4th century church – Santa Prudenza – that is at the start of the street if you’re walking from via Agostino Depretis (where via Urbana begins). The location of the church is where an early Christian Senator, Pudentis, once lived and it is said Saint Peter baptised daughters here. Via Urbana is a great street to meet for an aperitivo or dinner, or to have a gelato of course – which is just the perfect thing after our Ancient Rome Short Tour our Secrets of the Colosseum Tour or one of our Food Tours
Via Margutta: Art! Art! Art
If you’re in anyway artistic or want to experience Rome the postcard, Rome the reverie, Rome the place of dreamers – well this is the street for you – the street of artists!
This is one of the most iconic streets in the city. Fellini once lived here. Rubens supposedly lived here. Picasso definitely lived here. Debussy, Liszt, Wagner … Truman Capote – they all lived on this street.
If you think there’s something familiar about number 51 via Margutta it’s because it’s where Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) lived in Roman Holiday.
Even if you were to stumble upon Margutta while exploring around the Spanish Steps, you would still think it was enchanting with the ivy covered buildings, art galleries, planters, Pietro Lombardi’s Fontana delle Arte – it has a completely different feel to the streets close by, tranquil and dreamy. A little like Via Giulia, Margutta sits out of the usual flow of traffic and so has its own unique atmosphere is a great place to wander along after our Highlights of Rome Tour or after following the Trail of Caravaggio Tour.
Via Piccolomini: St. Peter’s dome…ILLUSION!
Want to see a clever trick? This street has an amazing view of St Peter’s Dome but that’s not all. If you drive, ride a bike or walk from the furthest point away from the end of the street right up to the look-out closest to the dome you’ll see an amazing thing. The closer you get, the further away the dome seems. If you go backwards, back to the start of the street, rather than what you’d expect the dome gets bigger as you move away. Why? Who can tell, but we are so glad the clever urban planner of this area saw the potential and gave us this treat!
Via Piccolomini is close to Villa Doria Pamphili, which is a beautiful park and the largest in Rome. It is well worth exploring the gardens of the 17th century villa after you’ve had enough of via Piccolomini’s grand optical illusion! You can explore the area after our Trastevere walking tour if you like!
We hope you’ve enjoy exploring our top 5 fascinating streets in Rome. With so much art, history and so many tales to tell, these are just a few of the little attractions the Eternal City has.
Do you have any favourite streets? We’d love to know where they are and why you love them!