The most popular streets in Rome are great for exploring on foot, with many iconic sights you’ll encounter along the way. Brimming with over 900 churches, ancient structures, and the priceless museums of the Vatican, Rome promises to be a rollercoaster ride for the senses.

    A good way to get your bearings and plan a sightseeing itinerary is to pinpoint a couple of Rome’s most important streets. Cue this guide, which flits from the grand boulevards that lead the way to St. Peter's Basilica to the ancient cobbles of the Appian Way. 


    Via della Conciliazione

    The boulevard to the Vatican

    Via della Conciliazione has to be one of the most photographed streets in the whole of Europe, let alone just Rome. Connecting the Castel Sant'Angelo to the walls of Vatican City, with St. Peter's Basilica and its grand piazza dominating the western end, there's hardly a more monument-rich part of the Italian capital than this.

    However, this wide boulevard wasn't always there. It's actually the product of a 1950s reconfiguration of the city, which was initiated by Mussolini before WWII. In the place of the old tenement blocks, there's now palatial complexes of Neo-Classical design, hosting bespoke bookshops and banks between the stone-carved streetlamps.

    Location: Via della Conciliazione, 00193 Rome, Italy


    Via del Corso

    Rome's main artery

    Via del Corso is the vena cava of the Rome Centro Storico, the most important street in the heart of the city. It runs all the way from the south side of the old town on the Piazza Venezia to the historic northern gate to medieval Rome on the Piazza del Popolo. It is never empty, with everything from high-street shopping to traditional Italian osterias dotted along its length.

    Although The Corso – as it's known affectionately to the locals – was first laid out in the 3rd century BC, it only really became an important thoroughfare in the Middle Ages, as the centre of Rome shifted north from the ancient forum. Today, it's a ticket to some of the town's most iconic sights, from the Doria Pamphili Gallery to the Trevi Fountain.

    Location: Via del Corso, 00186 Roma, Italy


    photo by Alessio Damato (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Via Condotti

    Chic shopping and designer names

    Via Condotti is a playground for A-listers and jet setters looking to shop through big-name fashion brands in Rome. It offers a prime setting for a bit of upscale retail therapy, because it runs under the exquisite Spanish Steps to the beautiful Palazzo Borghese, going east to west through the Rome old town.

    Shopping really is the number 1 draw on the Via Condotti. There are global brands like Montblanc and Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Dolce & Gabbana. And there are local Italian craft shops, selling everything from handmade leather coats to bespoke jewellery. Be warned – things aren't cheap on the Via Condotti, but they sure are classy.

    Location: Via dei Condotti, 00187 Roma, Italy


    Campo de' Fiori

    A centuries-old gathering place

    The Campo de' Fiori is always abuzz with life and energy. It's been an ad hoc meeting point amid 2 key neighbourhoods in the Centro Storico area since the 1500s. It tactically sits between the grand Palazzo Farnese and the lanes of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II.

    Because the boundaries of the Campo have never been officially laid out, it's shifted shape and size over the centuries. One thing that's remained consistent for over 100 years is the daily fruit and fish market. It draws in local Lazian traders and fishing folk from the port at Ostia, along with eager cooks from the surrounding trattorias. Also don't miss the haunting statue of Giordano Bruno, occultist, philosopher, and one of the first people to argue that Earth revolved around the sun.

    Location: Campo de' Fiori, 00186 Roma, Italy


    Via Appia Antica

    Tread in the footsteps of the Roman legions

    Via Appia Antica, or the Appian Way as it's widely known, was once the most important Roman road on the continent. It linked Rome to the big Adriatic port in Brindisi, helping to feed the people of the capital with grain from Egypt and beyond. The remains of the weathered stones can still be seen today, running straight southeast from the end of the Garbatella neighbourhood.

    Some historians claim that a trip to the Appia Antica is among the best free draws here. You'll literally tread in the footsteps of the Romans, and get to see many millennia-old landscapes along the way. Within easy reach of downtown Rome, they include the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, a series of ancient burial tunnels, and the preserved ruins of the Circus of Maxentius, a tower-topped games arena in the countryside just outside of the city.  

    Location: Via Appia Antica, 00179 Roma, Italy


    Via Margutta

    The onetime home of film stars in Rome

    Via Margutta will whisk you away from the hubbub of downtown Rome to somewhere altogether more romantic and charming. It's got the feel of a small alley in a Tuscan hill village, only it's a single turn off the body-packed Via del Babuino and the Piazza del Popolo – 2 of the busiest spots in the city.

    Quaint as it may look, Margutta occupies a place at the very beating heart of Rome's modern cultural scene. It was here that legendary film director Federico Fellini made his home. And the street was the backdrop in the Hepburn-Peck flick Roman Holiday of 1953. Today, folk will come to pay homage to the stars that have crossed the via, or to hop the art galleries and vegetarian eateries.

    Location: Via Margutta, 00187 Roma, Italy


    Via dei Fori Imperiali

    Glimpse the Colosseum for the first time

    Via dei Fori Imperiali is where many first-time visitors to Rome get their initial sighting of the mighty Colosseum and the Roman Forum. That's because it acts as the main connector between the medieval old city and the ancient part of town, wiggling from the Piazza Venezia to the foot of the great gladiator arena. It's worth walking at least once. 

    Go northwest to southeast along Via dei Fori Imperiali and you'll start with the cathedral-like marble monument of the Altar of the Fatherland looming overhead. Then you pass Trajan's Column and the Forum of Augustus, before the soaring Colosseum – arguably the most iconic attraction in Italy – lurches onto centre stage. You'll want to have the camera fully charged.

    Location: Via dei Fori Imperiali, 00184 Rome, Italy


    Via della Lungaretta

    Experience the romance of La Trastevere

    Via della Lungaretta showcases the fabled romance of what many consider to be hands down Rome's most enchanting district, La Trastevere. It runs through the midst of that neighbourhood on the south side of the Tiber River, past handsome pastel-painted trattoria and bougainvillaea-strewn wine bars.

    Everywhere you look here there's a charming café or aperitif spot. You'll smell the scents of pecorino cheese and pepper-topped pasta twisting and turning above the cobbles. Delve in deeper, because Via della Lungaretta is also a gateway to the hidden alleys that weave around La Trastevere's labyrinthine interior, an atmospheric world of crooked pavements, old bookshops, and wine-sloshing osteria.

    Location: Via della Lungaretta, 00153 Roma, Italy


    photo by Daderot (CC0 1.0) modified


    Lungotevere Tor di Nona

    Hear the gushing waters of the Tiber

    Lungotevere Tor di Nona is just one part of the snaking Lungotevere, a series of leafy promenades that hug the meanders of the Tiber River as it wiggles through the very middle of Rome. It's also one of the nicest, offering glimpses of the mighty Castel Sant'Angelo and the palazzos of the Piazza Cavour through the plane trees.

    However, arguably the best thing about Lungotevere Tor di Nona is that it's a breath of fresh air amid the hustle of old Rome. The maze that is the Centro Storico unfolds behind, so close you'll almost be able to hear the clink of plates in the alleyway trattoria. Here, though, it's just you and the gurgling of a couple of fountains above the Tiber. 

    Location: Lungotevere Tor di Nona, 00186 Roma, Italy


    photo by Lalupa (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Via dei Giubbonari

    Roman fast food and shopping galore

    Via dei Giubbonari is a quintessential medieval Rome street. Summertime crowds of sightseers and shoppers are constantly passing up and down its length, going from the tramlines of Via Arenula all the way to the ramshackle markets of the Campo de' Fiori.

    Not too much has changed in 500 years on Via dei Giubbonari. There are still taverns, only now they're Roman craft beer bars. Retail outlets sell concept jewellery and handmade sculptures. Between retail therapy and bouts of walk-with-it pizza, be sure to drop into the Church of St Barbara of the Bookmakers, which is tucked down one of the most picturesque nooks in the whole city.

    Location: Via dei Giubbonari, 00186 Rome, Italy


    photo by Mister No (CC BY 3.0) modified

    Joseph Francis | Contributing Writer

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