Eden Walks Blog

Things to do in Rome

Best Places to Visit in Rome

  • Via del Corso
    For a glimpse into the lifestyles of the rich and famous of seventeenth-century Rome, there is no
    place better than the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, located right along Via del Corso near the Altare
    della Patria. A marvel of plush interior décor with important works of art stacked almost floor-
    to-ceiling, the museum represents baroque excess at its finest. Three of Caravaggio’s earliest
    paintings—Penitent Magdalene, Rest on the Flight into Egypt, and a disputed St. John the
    Baptist—are newly rehoused in their own room. Also worth seeing are the portraits of Pope
    Innocent X by Diego Velazquez and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Annibale Carracci’s landscape
    lunettes, and a double portrait by Raphael. The Galleria degli Specchi is like a mini-Versailles
    and particularly magical during an evening tour. I’m not usually one for audio guides, but the
    Doria Pamphilj’s is excellent. Jonathan Doria Pamphilj, who grew up in the palace and still lives
    in one of its apartments, narrates the tour and punctuates descriptions of the art with charming
    stories about his illustrious family.
    There is also a beautiful bistro at the museum called the Caffè Doria with a separate entrance on
    Via della Gatta. A mix of Old-World charm and New-World mixology, you will feel far
    removed from the tourist packed sidewalks of Via del Corso in the luxe and newly renovated
    space. Both breakfast and lunch are served, but it’s really an ideal spot for a late afternoon
    aperitivo. The menu is on the pricier side, but the ambiance and top-notch service are worth it,
    especially after exploring the luxurious palazzo. The Caffè prides itself on a large selection of 80
    premium gins, so I recommended ordering a G&T—the cocktail du jour in Rome. For an
    additional 5 euros, your drink will be accompanied by a selection of elegant and inventive bites
    chosen for you by the chef. If coffee and dessert are more your style, their patisserie are as
    delicious as they are beautiful to look at.
    Piazza Navona
    Mere steps away from Piazza Navona is the Church of Santa Maria della Pace. It was
    originally constructed in 1482 by Pope Sixtus IV, who famously commissioned the building of
    the Sistine Chapel. In 1656, Pope Alexander VII had the façade restored by Pietro da Cortona.
    Several houses were demolished to accommodate the small piazza in front of the church, which
    allowed for carriage traffic. In the Renaissance, the Chigi Chapel inside was frescoed by
    Raphael, and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger designed the nearby Cesi Chapel. However, the
    church is most famous for its cloister designed by Donato Bramante in 1500-1504. Today, the
    Chiostro also contains a contemporary art gallery. Subjects of recent exhibitions include the
    works of Banksy, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Joseph Mallord William Turner.
    On the upper level of the Chiostro is a café, which so happens to be one of the best places to
    work unperturbed in the city. You’ll often see students there sitting on their laptops for hours—
    and with good reason. The view is spectacular, the WiFi is free, and the friendly waitstaff serves
    breakfast, lunch, coffee and aperitivo. Don’t miss the nearby Via dei Coronari—a street once
    famous for antique shops. It’s now a bit touristy but still one of the most beautiful streets in the
    city, and there are ample opportunities for window shopping.
    Da Enzo al 29 is a family-run trattoria in a quieter part of the crowded but very charming
    neighbourhood of Trastevere. If you are looking for pure cucina alla romana, this is one of the
  • best spots in town. You will probably have to wait in line--reservations are difficult to come by
    and only available for the hour between 7 and 8 PM--but the rich pastas and some of the best
    tiramisu in Rome will be worth it. If in season, try the carciofi alla giudia (deep fried artichokes)
    or the panzanella to start. Their renditions of Rome's three signature pasta dishes (amatriciana,
    carbonara, and cacio e pepe) are all excellent, and there is always a special pasta of the day if
    you want to try something new. For the main course, you will also find Roman favourites like
    polpette in sugo and trippa alla romana. Popular with locals and tourists alike, you will get an
    authentic Trastevere experience here. If Da Enzo is too crowded, nearby Le Mani in Pasta and
    Roma Sparita are worthy substitutes.
    Down the street from Da Enzo is the Church of Santa Cecilia, who was martyred in Rome in
    the third century. According to local legend, the church was built on the site of Cecilia's home,
    and, indeed, the remains of a Roman domus have been discovered under the church. There has
    been a church on the site since at least the fifth century, but the current structure was built in 822
    by Pope Paschal I. The relics of St. Cecilia were moved from her tomb outside of the city to the
    basilica at this time. During the Jubilee of 1600, her body was disinterred, and it was discovered
    to be in a near-perfect state of preservation. The sculpture under the altar is by baroque sculptor
    Stefano Maderno, who was present at the unveiling of the body and allegedly sculpted what he
    saw. I recommend paying a few extra euros to see a vivid fresco of the Last Judgment by Late
    Medieval master Pietro Cavallini in addition to the ancient structures beneath the church.
    Campo di Fiori
    Maria Agnese Spagnuolo began making artisanal gelato in Puglia before opening Fatamorgana
    in Rome. Known for inventive flavors (carrot cake, chocolate and tobacco, and basil and ricotta
    are some of my favorites), you certainly will not want for choice at this gelateria. Each flavor is
    made from only natural ingredients—no florescent green pistachio here. If you want to know the
    difference between “real” gelato and the kind you can buy in a tub at the supermarket, this is the
    place. They also have plenty of vegan options, and all of their gelatos are gluten free. There are
    three other locations in Monti, Prati, and Trastevere, so even if you don't make it to this location,
    you will have other opportunities to try this perfectly portable Roman dessert. If you’re more
    interested in savory snacks, the famous Antico Forno Roscioli is just a few doors down. Their
    suppli and pizza al taglio are some of the best renditions of these typically Roman quick eats.
    Galleria Spada opens onto the nearby Piazza di Capo Ferro. A small, but densely packed
    museum, it’s an easy stop if you have an hour to spare in between shopping on Via dei
    Giubbonari and browsing the market stalls of Campo di Fiori. The museum is most famous for a
    forced perspective gallery designed by famed baroque architect—and rival of Bernini—
    Francesco Borromini. The artist used diminishing rows of columns and a rising floor to make it
    appear that the gallery is 37 m (121 ft) long with a life-size sculpture at the end. In reality, the
    gallery is 8 m (26 ft) long, and the statue is only 60 cm (23 inches) high. Be on the lookout for
    some lovely examples of ancient Roman portraiture, in addition to paintings by baroque masters
    Artemisia Gentileschi, Guercino and Guido Reni.
    Fontana di Trevi
    Il Chianti Vineria is the place to eat if you are near Fontana di Trevi. With a large, Tuscan-
    inspired menu, everyone in your group can find something to eat here. Their seasonal specials
  • are always worth a look—I have yet to find a better version of the Roman springtime dish
    vignarola (a stew of fava beans, artichokes, peas, and other spring vegetables) anywhere. The
    wine list is extensive, and they do an excellent tagliere (meat and cheese board) if you would
    prefer to stop by for aperitivo. Considering its location in such a crowded area, the restaurant is
    peaceful and a lovely place to pass an afternoon or evening people-watching. I’ve taken
    numerous visitors and even some picky locals to this restaurant for special occasions, and it has
    been universally beloved.
    If you walk about six minutes to the nearby Piazza Barberini, you can visit the Galleria
    Nazionale d'Arte Antica a Palazzo Barberini. Another of Rome’s famous seventeenth-century
    palaces, even with its prime location near Trevi, the Palazzo Barberini is somewhat off the
    beaten path and usually uncrowded. It was once the home of the humanist Pope Urban VIII, and
    the sequence of smaller rooms were all designed to accommodate the complex ritual of receiving
    guests. Now, they provide an excellent display space for the family’s incredible collection of art.
    Highlights include Caravaggio’s Judith Beheading Holofernes, Raphael’s La Fornarina, and
    Hans Holbein’s portrait of Henry VIII. Particularly spectacular is the ceiling fresco of The
    Allegory of Divine Providence by Pietro da Cortona in the salon. This is also one of the sites in
    Rome where you can see the two great masters of baroque architecture—Gian Lorenzo Bernini
    and Francesco Borromini—in direct competition with one another. Each designed one of the

    staircases leading to the main floor.