Among the many places in the heart of the Eternal City this article describes an itinerary in the center of Rome from the Prati district to Vatican City.
The itinerary in the center of Rome starts at the Stay Fine holiday home and ends in Vatican City, through some of the most enchanting places in the Eternal City.
First of all, some quick premises:
- the following itinerary is perfect to follow in one day. They will be described point by point and one by one points of interest not to be missed;
Day 1 – Prati District and Vatican City
This first itinerary starts from the door of the “Stay fine” B & B in via Cola di Rienzo, 285, 00192 Rome, in the Prati district. In the map there is a view of the whole route.
#1 via Cola di Rienzo
Enjoy the atmosphere of the neighborhood made of tree-lined avenues, streets full of shops and small quiet squares and in the meantime you set off on our first stop along Via Cola di Rienzo.
Via Cola di Rienzo is one of the main shopping streets of Rome. The Tiffany jewelry store, the elegant COIN department store and the Castroni bar – rosticceria with a notable coffee and unforgettable suppli (ball of rice with meat and tomato sauce!
When you reach Piazza cola di Rienzo turn right into Via Marcantonio Colonna in the direction of our second stage.
#2 PIAZZA CAVOUR
Piazza Cavour is one of the most particular squares of Rome as it has some features that are closer to the large squares of Northern Europe; in fact, it seems more out of a postcard from Vienna or Copenhagen than from a Roman glimpse!
Behind the square stands in its grandeur the palace of the Supreme Court of Cassation, called with affection by the true Romans “Er Palazzaccio“, a nickname deriving from the much sought after architectural structure in the nineteenth-century imitation of the Baroque.
Let’s take a moment to admire the square, then proceed towards one of the symbols of Rome: Castel Sant’Angelo!
#3 CASTEL SANT’ANGELO
The ancient papal fortress can be seen very well from Piazza Cavour and, as you can imagine, it can be reached in a few minutes.
The history of the castle is as troubled as the city that welcomes it: it was built as a mausoleum to contain the remains of Emperor Hadrian in 125 AD, then became a fortress under the Western Emperor Honorius, was used by the popes as a castle and during the Risorgimento it became a barracks.
Today it is a museum that you can, indeed you must, visit (know however that it will take time!).
The frame of the Castle is unique: in front of you the Tiber, while on the left you can see the imposing dome of San Pietro in all its splendor.
If the day is sunny then enjoy a bit ‘of heat on Ponte Sant’Angelo, which is located just in front of the Castle.
#4 PASSETTO DI BORGO
Here a little gem: on the west side of Castel Sant’Angelo you can admire one of the pearls of Rome, that is the Passetto di Borgo.
It is a secret passage that used the popes to escape from San Pietro and take refuge in Castel Sant’Angelo during sieges or looming threats.
The Passetto ran along the perimeter of the Vatican walls and then continued towards Castel Sant’Angelo.
It was used more than once over the centuries, as for example during the invasion of the lansquenets by Charles V.
With the advent of gunpowder, running along the path became dangerous due to stray bullets.
So it was that the popes devised a ruse, namely to run before them a stand-in with papal clothes, in order to attract the attention (and the bullets) of the enemies in siege.
The little pass is something unique, which will surely enrich your itinerary in the center of Rome.
#5 VIA DELLA CONCILIAZIONE
We ended up today with Castel Sant’Angelo, now we head towards Via della Conciliazione, one of the most evocative streets of Rome.
In fact, the avenue faces St. Peter’s in a game of perspectives that leaves anyone who follows it in awe. You feel literally powerless in front of “Ar Cuppolone”!
Too bad that to create the avenue, Mussolini in 1936, destroyed a whole block of medieval buildings by eliminating the game of perspectives and the surprise that Borromini had imagined for the visitor who was going to visit St. Peter’s Square!
#6 PIAZZA DEL VATICANO
After the incredible walkway of Via della Conciliazione, here we are in one of the most famous squares in the world.
It would only take a whole article to describe St. Peter’s Square.
- On what to linger?
On the incredible Bernini’s colonnade and on perspective games (if you place yourself at two points in the square, the perspective will make it appear that, for each row of columns, there is only one)!
- On the facade of the Basilica?
Or on the window from which the pope recites the Angelus every Sunday?
- On the fountains?
Or on the bas-reliefs of the Four Winds that are in the surroundings of the Vatican Obelisk?
Piazza San Pietro is a spectacle of architecture. Once here you could enrich your itinerary according to time and strength with two options: a) visit the Basilica of San Pietro and b) climb to the top of the Cuppolone,
We suggest postponing to another day the visit to the Vatican Museums, whose visit will take you many hours, both for the queue and for the huge amount of things to see.
#7 BASILICA DI SAN PIETRO
Rome is without a doubt one of the destinations of religious tourism par excellence, not only for its importance in the Catholic world, but also for its intrinsic beauty.
Once in front of the basilica we suggest you visit the Basilica of San Pietro and then climb to the top of the “Cuppolone”.
Below are the essential elements of the Basilica that you can visit in about an hour.
The basilica of St. Peter is the largest church in the world, with a total area of 23 thousand square meters.
The major architects of the time worked on its construction, which took more than a century (1506-1626), including Bramante, Michelangelo, Raffaello and Bernini. It was built to replace the ancient Constantinian basilica (4th century), which stood on the burial site of St. Peter’s.
The rich interior is divided into three naves, decorated with dozens of statues and ten thousand square meters of mosaics, dating back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
In the chapels are found works such as the Pietà of Michelangelo, the funeral monuments made by Bernini, Canova and Pollaiolo, the Tabernacle of the Blessed Sacrament of the genius of the Baroque. In the center, under the dome, stands the Berninian Baldachian, right in front of the dazzling reliquary of the Holy Chair.
The exterior is defined scenographically by the square and the colonnade, a synthesis of the projects by Michelangelo and Bernini.
On the façade stands the monumental dome, composed of two overlapping caps on the model of the cathedral of Florence.
#8 CUPOLA DI SAN PIETRO
Prices, timetables and info to get on the Dome of Rome
The Dome of St. Peter’s in the Vatican is one of the symbols of Rome and going up to 133 meters to admire the Eternal City from above is one of those things that, at least once in life, must be done.
It takes at least 1 hour to get on the dome where you can enjoy a unique view of the world by taking a lift.
The Dome of Rome, this is the name that has been widely attributed to it, is one of the largest masonry domes in the world, made up of two superimposed caps (like Brunelleschi’s dome in Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence). The dome was built by Giacomo Della Porta following the drawings of Michelangelo Buonarroti and has a height of over 130 meters and an internal diameter of about 42 meters.
Visit the Dome of St. Peter
Undoubtedly suggestive to admire from the outside, the Dome of St. Peter can give a magnificent show especially if visited from inside the Basilica, not to mention the splendid panoramic view that gives the city of Rome, St. Peter’s Square, Castel Sant’Angelo and the Tiber river.
Dome of St. Peter tickets
Unlike the entrance to the Basilica of San Pietro, which is free, the climb up to the top of the Dome of San Pietro is subject to charges.
You can choose to walk 551 steps at a cost of € 8 or if you use the elevator that allows you to reach the terrace level and then continue on foot making another 320 steps: in this case the ticket costs € 10. Reduced tickets for schools have a cost of € 5.
We suggest that you opt for the elevator to those who are not in full physical shape.
Whether you climb on foot or you prefer to go up with the lift, the first stage of the visit to the dome is at an intermediate level, on the terrace located at the base of the dome, from which you can look upwards or towards the bass, where the canopy of San Pietro is located.
Continuing on foot (from this point forward you have no other choice, there is an elevator and the stairs are spiral and rather narrow) you get up to the top of the dome, at a height of 133 meters, 551 total steps if you are all on foot, but the view of Rome from above the Dome of St. Peter has no equal.
The Dome of San Pietro in Rome is open to the public all year round with the following seasonal timetables:
- from 1 October to 31 March from 8:00 to 17:00
- from 1 April to 30 September from 8:00 to 18:00
The entrance is from the portico of the Basilica of San Pietro.
The Basilica of San Pietro in Rome is open to the public all year round with the following seasonal timetables:
- from October 1st to March 31st from 7.00am to 6.30pm
- from 1 April to 30 September from 7:00 to 19:00.