- Itinerary: Circo Massimo – Altare della Patria – Trastevere
- Total Cost: €68.30 per person
1. Circo Massimo & Capitoline Hill ~ €20
Take Line B on the Metro to Circo Massimo (€1.50). An unobstructed landscape of what was once the biggest and most spectacular stadium in the Roman Empire opens up right in front of you.
Chariot races dominated its events calendar during ancient Rome, entertaining a 250,000-strong audience. Now a public park providing vast open space for leisure walks and outdoor concerts, it benefits from the Palatino as its majestic backdrop.
It also hosts an archaeological site which reopened in 2016 after six years of restoration work. Ticket costs €3-5.
As you leave the Circus, head towards Santa Maria in Cosmedin which is marked by its tall bell tower with beautiful arches. Continue on Via Luigi Petroselli for 10 minutes and you will arrive at Teatro Marcello, whose exterior resembles the Colosseum.
Spend some time at its free-to-enter archaeological site to peruse well-translated history and fascinating people stories, and transport yourself back to one of the greatest civilisations of our time.
Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli is five minutes away, on the Capitoline Hill. Marble arches and chandeliers along the aisles lure you towards the magnificent altar. The church’s ceiling is particularly impressive, gilded in gold and embellished with compartments and intricate patterns.
Before you head towards Michelangelo’s Piazza del Campidoglio, admire a stunning view of the Palatino – one of the Seven Hills of Rome.
The piazza is surrounded by three buildings – Palazzo Senatorio, Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo. The latter two are part of the Capitoline Museums and home to valuable collections of art and artifacts. Ticket costs €15.
Circo Massimo’s archaeological site
Tuesday to Friday: reservation only
Saturday to Sunday: 10am – 4pm (last entry at 3pm)
Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli
May to September: 9am – 6pm
October to April: 9.30am – 5.30pm
Daily: 9.30am – 7.30pm
December 24 and 31: 9.30am – 2.00pm
*Closed on January 1, May 1 and December 25
2. Altare della Patria
On the other side of Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli is the Altar of the Fatherland, one of the most remarkable structures in Rome.
You will be struck first by its sheer size, then by its majestic beauty. At 135 metres wide and 70 metres tall, the altar celebrates King Victor Emmanuel who was the first king when Italy was unified in 1871.
Erected in 1911, the neoclassical monument with its white marble columns and heroic bronze statues, overlooks Piazza Venezia and houses cultural exhibitions.
Tuesday to Sunday: 9am – 5.30pm
3. Lunch ~ €6
For a delicious pre-lunch snack, head towards River Tiber and arrive at Via dell’Arco del Monte. Here you’ll find a characteristic pastry shop called I Dolci di Nonna Vincenza, that serves the best cannoli with flavours ranging from pistachio, custard to chocolate.
Cross the Ponte Sisto and bear right to find La Boccaccia on Via di Santa Dorotea. Tucked away in a corner, this pizzeria is easy to miss. But their perfect pizza crusts, flavourful toppings, and friendly prices prove to be an authentic and unforgettable culinary experience in Rome.
Take a pleasant stroll up a gentle hill for about 10 minutes to arrive at Fontanone del Gianicolo, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of Rome.
Continue to climb the hill and you will come across Porta San Pancrazio, which is along the Aurelian wall. The building or arch is also a multi-storey museum dedicated to the Italian unification and Garibaldi’s role in this significant event in Italian history.
Take a right from here and enjoy a quiet and peaceful walk to Piazzale Giuseppe Garibaldi, where an even more dramatic panorama of Rome makes it a hot spot for tourists and artists.
Porta San Pancrazio
Tuesday – Friday: 10am – 2pm
Saturday – Sunday: 10am – 6pm
5. Gelato ~ €7
Having travelled up the Janiculum Hill, it’s time to return to the city and visit two of the most famous gelateria in Rome – Fatamorgana and Locanda Del Gelato.
While Fatamorgana spoils you with an astonishing variety of flavours, Locanda stays loyal to the classic flavours while giving them an edgy twist. No matter which combination you go for, gelato doesn’t get any better than this!
6. Dinner ~ €27.50
For dinner, I visited a local restaurant called Flavio al Velavevodetto. A relaxing 20-minute walk from Locanda Del Gelato, Flavio is a burst of excitement for any curious travellers or food lovers.
Its entrance disguises a huge restaurant that occupies two floors, including a rustic, stone-walled section that sits below the ground floor.
Its menu fascinates diners with starters such as deep fried artichoke and main courses like rabbit cacciatore, and beef tongue in green sauce. Along with its collection of fine wine and local brews, Flavio al Velavevodetto has gifted me with the most memorable meal in Rome.