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Report 1423: Postcard - Free Things to Do in Rome

By DMae from Alaska, Summer 2007

Trip Description: This is a list of free places I enjoyed on various trips to Rome

Destinations: Countries - Italy; Regions/Cities - Rome


Page 1 of 1: Postcard - Free Things to Do in Rome

photo by DMae

Bernini's Elephant

Rome offers an overwhelming array of history and art for all travelers. Many of the most precious things to view are safely tucked away in museums. These venues offer us all a chance to appreciate some of history’s most impressive art, but can also come with long lines, reservations, and entry fees.

It is gratifying to me that in an expensive city like Rome there are so many free and fun things to do. Here is a short list of some of my favorite free things to do in Rome. I have arranged part of my list by my favorite artists, and in part by my favorite views. Don’t forget about other artists, the beautiful fountains, architecture, and churches as you wander about!

The list is in no way complete. Add to the list of things one can do with only a bus or metro ride and/or a bit of a walk and share it with all!

Looking for Michelangelo

  • Moses : Inside San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter’s in Chains). Off Via Cavour, up a staircase. Take Metro Line B; Cavour stop.
  • Pieta: Inside St. Peter's Basilica. Take Metro Line A; the stop is Ottaviano, or take bus 40 Express to Piazza Pia.
  • Christ Carrying the Cross: Inside Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. Piazza della Minerva, around the corner from the Pantheon. You can take Bus 40 Express or 64 to Largo Argentina and walk from there. The 116 electric bus also passes nearby.
  • On Capitoline Hill: Piazza del Campidoglio and the steps leading up to it (the Cordonata). You can take Bus 40 Express, 170 or 64 to Piazza Venezia. The Capitoline is just behind the Vittoriano.
  • The Dome of St. Peter's Basilica: You can observe the dome from the piazza or you can walk to the top or take the elevator to the halfway point which is not really FREE, but inexpensive. The climb inside the dome is a lot of legwork, but the view over Rome is worth it. Take Metro Line A; Ottaviano stop, or Bus 40 Express to Piazza Pia.

Looking for Bernini

There are tours one can take to see Bernini’s works through out Rome, or you can wander about on your own.

  • The Ecstasy of Santa Teresa: Inside Santa Maria della Vittoria, located at Via XX Settembre, 17. You can take bus 492 or 175 to Largo S. Susanna, or it is a short walk west from Termini.
  • St. Peter's Basilica : Inside there is the baldacchino (bronze canopy), Cathedra Petri (the chair of St. Peter), the monument to Pope Urban VIII, and the monument to Pope Alexander VII. The square and colonnade outside are also by Bernini. If you stand on one of the dots about 20 yards from the obelisk, all four rows of columns appear to become one. Take the Metro Line A; the stop is Ottaviano, or Bus 40 Express to Piazza Pia.
  • Fountain of the Four Rivers : This fountain is in Piazza Navona. Take bus 40 Express or 64 to Largo Argentina.
  • The Elephant and its Obelisk: Outside Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, on the piazza, is a crazy-cute elephant, which was designed by Bernini. Again, take Bus 40 Express or 64 to Largo Argentina.
  • Ponte Sant'Angelo : This bridge is lined with Baroque statues of angels designed by Bernini, and it is a great place to be at sunset. The bridge is a beautiful place to take pictures of St. Peter's. You can take Bus 40 Express or 64 to the end of Corso Vittorio Emanuele.
  • Sant'Andrea al Quirinale : This little church, near the corner of Via del Quirinale and Via Quattro Fontane, is like being inside a Faberge egg. It is a bit overwhelming! Take Metro Line A to the Barberini stop, or bus 492 or 62 to Via Quattro Fontane.

Looking for Caravaggio

  • Paintings of Saint Peter and Saint Paul: Inside Santa Maria del Popolo are two Caravaggios. Take the Metro Line A to Flaminio. It is a short walk there to Piazza del Popolo where the church is located.
  • Madonna dei Pellegrini: Inside Sant'Agostino, which is at Via della Scrofa, 80. Take Bus 492 to the north end of Corso Rinascimento, or walk from Piazza Navona.
  • The Life of St. Matthew: Inside San Luigi dei Francesi are three paintings. The church is located between Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. Take Bus 40 Express or 64 to Largo Argentina, or 492 to Corso Rinascimento.

Places to View Rome

    Piazza del Campidoglio (The Capitoline Hill): This Renaissance piazza is one of the best spots to view Rome, especially at sunset. In the middle of the piazza, which was designed by Michelangelo, you'll find a copy of a bronze statue of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius on horseback (the original is now inside the Capitoline Museums). Visit the terraces on either side of the Palazzo Senatorio for heart-stopping views of the Roman Forum, especially when all lit up at night.
  • Il Vittoriano (Vittoro Emanuele Monument): On the backside of the “typewriter” there is a wonderful view of the Foro Romano and the Colosseo.
  • Gianicolo (Janiculum Hill): Look down over all of Rome's monuments. You can reach the summit by walking from Via Garibaldi in Trastevere. There is a cannon which goes off daily at noon. The bus 870 runs from Piazza Fiorentini (off Corso Vittorio Emanuele, where it meets the Tiber) but I have always walked up from Trastevere.
  • Aventino (Aventine Hill) : A favorite place of mine in Rome is the Giardino degli Aranci/Parco Savello (the Orange Garden). There is one of Rome's prettiest gardens with a beautiful view over Trastevere. About 20 yards from the Orange Garden, is a piazza. Look for a large door with a small keyhole. Peek through for a tree-lined view of the dome of St. Peter's. You can take Metro Line B and get off at Circo Massimo. Then walk north along the Circus Maximus and turn left up the hill (Via Valle Murcia to Via di Santa Sabina).
  • The Pincio (Pincian Hill): This viewpoint is a part of the Borghese Gardens, above Piazza del Popolo. It is not far from the Spanish Steps. Here you will find wonderful views of St. Peter's and the Vittoriano (Victor Emanuel monument). Take the Metro Line A; the stop is Spagna. You can also take the 117 electric bus, if it passes your way, and get off at the Piazza del Popolo.

DMaei has been a member of the Slow Travel Talk forums since 2005 and has written one other trip report for us in addition to this postcard.


Italy Alone by DMae

More Things to Do in Rome and Lazio

Rome Hotel Reviews

Rome Restaurant Reviews

Rome Trip Reports

Rome Vacation Rental Reviews

Stella's Rome Restaurant List

Where to Find Bernini in Rome

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