Colosseum to Trevi Fountain walk itinerary – with map and 11 attractions
This Colosseum to Trevi Fountain walk goes through an itinerary of 11 stops that includes a few little gems, that I found in my 5 years in Rome, and a few popular places.
The walk starts from the Colosseum area where you will have the opportunity to visit a few iconic sites and an often overlooked church.
You will get to also visit an elevated garden, a unique place on top of a villa in the centre of Rome, that even the locals don’t know about.
I have also added one of my favourite affordable restaurants in the historic centre to have lunch/dinner, another gem of this guide.
But let’s jump into it
Table of Contents
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You can do this walk both in the morning or the afternoon, or make it a full day itinerary if you like to spend time at the attractions.
Here is the first tip for your trip. If you decide to take the half day option, try to visit the Colosseum as early as you can in the morning.
The Colosseum in the afternoon is well famous for its crowds. Start your walk by visiting the Colosseum, the Palatine Hill and the Fori Imperiali
This is typically covered by a single ticket that will give you access to all.
Welcome to one of the original Wonders of the World. It received this glorious title in 2007.
This iconic landmark, previously known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is the largest ancient amphitheatre ever built.
Titus the Emperor completed its construction in 80AD.
He commemorated its opening with games that lasted for 100 days.
During that time, over 2000 gladiators lost their lives.
When you visit the Colosseum, you will notice that it is made of concrete, volcanic rock and travertine limestone.
It is rumoured that it used to be filled with water for mock battles.
The ceiling was said to be made of canvas while cages were found below.
It was used for executions, mock battles, gladiator competitions and animal hunts for over 500 years.
The Colosseum is so massive that it used to hold up to 80,000 people at a time.
Over time, it was used for religious occasions, workshops and even housing.
A large part of the ruins remains standing despite the amphitheatre being ravaged by earthquakes.
Robbers also vandalised it for the stones. It was also sadly bombed multiple times during World War Two.
To date, it is used on Good Friday by the Catholic faithful for the candlelit Way of the Cross procession.
The Colosseum is visited by around 6 million visitors a year!
Tip #2: do not buy the ticket on site, buy instead the fast-track ticket on-line, this may save you a 1 or 2 hours queue at the entrance.
This skip-the-line ticket will give you access to the Colosseum as well as the Palatine Hill and the Fori Imperiali.
You will have also the possibility to watch a 20 minutes video about the entire area and its history.
Try to get a ticket for the first tour at 9am to share the sites with the smallest amount of travellers around, such a great experience.
Allocate 3-3.5 hours to visit these three iconic sites.
Next, make your way to the centre of the seven hills of Rome, Palatine Hill.
So important is Palatine in Roman history that it is considered the foundation of Rome.
Ancient legend says that two mythical brothers, Romulus and Remus, were found here by the female wolf that raised them.
After a series of historic events, the brothers could not decide where to set up their new city.
Romulus, after killing his brother, chose Palatine Hill and named it Rome.
Palatine Hill was known for its amazing views and quickly became an affluent neighbourhood.
Even Emperor Augustus lived there all his life.
Over time, the hill was abandoned and fell into ruin.
Churches and castles were then built in their place.
When you visit Palatine Hill today, the ruins of Emperor Domitian’s palace are what you will see.
You can appreciate the wild flowers sprouting from among the ruins.
From specific places on the hill, you can enjoy panoramic views of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum ruins.
The Fori Imperiali, also known as the Imperial Fora, stands at the centre of Rome.
It was a collection of squares or fora.
It took over one and a half centuries to construct them and is not far from the Roman Forum.
Emperors like Julius Caesar used the Fori Imperiali for political, economical and religious forums.
The famous forums here are the Forum of Augustus, Forum of Caesar, Forum of Nerva and Forum of Trajan.
Mussolini decided to build the Via Dei Fori Imperiali, a street to pass through the squares.
The heavy traffic between the structures was somewhat responsible for their eventual damage.
Proposals to remove the road were tabled but never implemented.
The road is now used for the annual June 2nd Parade to celebrate Italian Republic Day.
Come and appreciate the unique architecture of each forum and the amazing lighting put up in 2015.
You must also take the footbridge that touches the Forum of Trajan and leads through the ruins.
This is one of the oldest churches in the world together with Santa Maria in Trastevere. It was originally built in 398.
The locals fondly call the church San Zanipolo.
This Gothic church has many artists, soldiers and doges buried there and you can check out their decorated tombs.
The first building of St John and Paul Basilica was dedicated to Saints John and Paul.
It faces Saint John’s and Paul’s Campo (Square) and is a great place to visit because of the gorgeous atmosphere and places to enjoy.
You will see that the church is designed in a Latin Cross shape.
It has one big nave and two big aisles which are separated by large columns.
Many chapels were built on each side of the transept.
You will also notice the many art works preserved within the church.
Also within the church are iconic paintings like the Madonna Della Pace and The Annunciation.
When planning to visit the St John and Paul Basilica, check the website in advance to find out which days it is open to the public.
This is a museum spread over 3 buildings around the Piazza del Campidoglio, interconnected by an underground tunnel.
The Capitoline Museums, opened in 1734, were the first museum in the world, opened at a time when the collections were exclusively enjoyed by the owners and their guests.
The Palazzo dei Conservatori and the Palazzo Nuovo make up the historical place.
They can be found in Campidoglio Square and are linked by the underground passage, Galleria Lapidaria.
The passage lets you pass through without leaving the museums.
The exhibitions began with bronze sculptures donated by Pope Sixtus IV. The collection grew with more donations.
After being open to the public in 1734, more sculptures and paintings were put up for display at the two museums.
The collection from artists like Tiziano, Caravaggio and Rubens are what started the oldest public art collection at these museums.
You will appreciate the beautiful design started by the famed artist Michelangelo.
Unfortunately, he died before he could complete his work.
Visit both museums to see busts of well-known figures, paintings and even the original Capitoline Wolf sculpture.
This is an homage to the wolf that raised the mythical brothers, Romulus and Remus.
The museums beautifully tell the history of Rome.
Allocate at least 2.5-3 hours for the Capitoline Museums.
This is a place you want to visit only if you think to spend the entire day in this walk.
It would be way too rushed to do the Capitol Museums and the Colosseum in half-day.
This is not to say that the Capitoline Museums do not deserve to be visited.
Actually, the contrary is true, but it should be done with the right time (3-4 hours)
There are so many things to see inside that an organised tour would help immensely not to get lost and tired without a real understanding of the content.
This Skip-the-line Guided Tour is both a time saver and a substantial source of information. As usual, try to avoid the (in)famous queues of Rome.
If travelling on a budget, go for a DIY visit and check the Wiki page for more information to take with you during the visit.
Remember to buy the Roma Pass, a 48 or 72-Hour City Card to save money and time, besides having free use of public transportation and a handy city guide with a map
Leave the Colosseum area to head to Piazza Venezia, the heart of Rome.
This has to be one of the busiest roundabouts in the world, certainly one of the most chaotic.
I would never suggest driving in Rome, but if you wonder how the locals do, have a break for 5 or 10 minutes in this square and check out if there is any logic.
I drove through this square hundreds of times with my scooter and somehow I learnt my way, even without accidents 🙂
Arriving from the Fori Imperial Street, you will see on your left side the imposing Altar of the Fatherland (Altare della Pace) opened in 1911 to remember the first king of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II.
You can see there also the Grave of the Unknown Soldier (Tomba del Milite Ignoto), to remember the lost soldiers during WWI for which the body was never found or identified.
For one of the best views of Rome, take the elevator to the top of the Altar, a real unmissable experience.
Follow on the left Via Teatro di Marcello for just 50 metres and you will see the beautiful Cordonata Capitolina Steps that take to the famous Campidoglio, the square designed by Michelangelo.
Do you want a quiet and peaceful place in the madness of this square?
Step into the Church of Saint Mark Evangelist, mostly overlooked by travellers, probably because of the many attractions in the area.
This one of the oldest churches in the world, built in 300.
The facade is somehow unassuming, just with a small sign “Basilica di San Marco” above the central gate.
This is because the main entrance was originally built on the opposite side of the building.
Next to the church, in the main square, there is another imposing building, the Venezia Palace (Palazzo Venezia), built over 600 years ago.
It was originally used by cardinals and later by the Pope as a residence. Later it was donated to the Republic of Venice to use as embassy.
During WWII, the balcony of the building was used by the Dux for its speeches.
Today Palazzo Venezia house a Museum and another hidden gem that not many people are aware of, not even the locals, the Giardini di Palazzo Venezia.
This is another very quiet spot to relax before continuing your walk.
To enter, use the same gate of the museum in Via del Plebiscito, but head to the gardens instead.
Amazingly enough, the Giardini are free to enter
So many things to do and places to explore in Piazza Venezia alone, isn’t it?
Time to leave for another 2 little gems, unknown to the most, on the walk from the Colosseum to Trevi Fountain.
Also the antique Rome had its own shopping centres, and the Trajan’s Market is one of the best preserved in the city, a real must visit
This is, in fact, one of the world’s oldest ‘shopping malls’.
It was constructed between 107 AD and 110 AD. Trajan’s market was large and held many shops and offices.
It had also a forum, the Forum of Trajan.
The upper level was used for offices, while the rest of the shops were used by merchants from all over the world.
There were up to 150 shops, also known as “tabernae”.
Set on the side of Quirinal Hill, it had a semi-circular facade with rows on either side.
The lower section of the market was said to host concerts and speeches.
The architecture at Trajan’s market was ahead of its time, as evident in multiple high-rise buildings.
The entire structure, although well preserved, is still damaged because of time and the great 1349 earthquake.
Take a walk along Via Biberatica, the main road. You can also experience the market through the complex corridors.
For some unclear reasons, the Trajan’s Market is missed by the most, which is an absolute pity.
My take is that this would be an overpopulated attraction in any city, except Rome, where attractions like the Colosseum, the Fori Imperiali etc are such a hard competition.
Try to make it towards the end of the day for the best light.
The Trajan Market is included in the Roma Pass, a 48 or 72-Hour City Card that is an absolute time and money saver.
This is another little hidden gem of this walk.
Can you imagine an elevated garden on top of a villa built in the 16th century, Villa Aldobrandini?
Indeed, Rome can be really crazy. And the best is that only a bunch of people know about it.
You can enter from the gate at Via Mazzarino, and walk up the stairs to the top.
From the unusual garden you have also a stunning 360 degrees view. A fantastic spot for a few photos.
This is a public place, and unfortunately, the council has not looked after this little gem.
The garden can be overgrown and occasionally you will find homeless inside.
Hopefully, with the end of covid, the Elevated Gardens will be taken back to its splendour, still a place to see for its unique setup.
This is the Presidential Palace on an elevated hill of Rome, once used by the Pope and also by the royals.
You can visit part of it, although you need to book at least 5 days in advance on the official website. The tour takes around 1.5-2 hours.
You may also want to check out before arriving in Rome the virtual tours of the Quirinal Palace.
The palace was built in 1573 in neoclassical style, and it is today one of the most important of the city for both its artistic content and political status.
My suggestion here is to not visit it during this walk. You will not have enough spare time for it, unless you bypass Piazza Venezia.
In saying that the view of the palace and Rome from the elevated square is absolutely well worth the walk up the little hill.
The Trevi Fountain, located in the Quirinale district, is one of the oldest sources of water in Rome.
The fountain was once closed, but thanks to the fashion house of Fendi, it was renovated and reopened.
It now hosts 7 to 10 million visitors both day and night.
The fountain is made of travertine stone and uses up to 2,824,800 cubic feet of water!
The water is recycled, so do not worry!
When you visit the Trevi Fountain, it is a tradition that you make a wish by throwing a coin into the water.
Who knows, it might come true!
An interesting fact is that the coins thrown in are usually collected in the night and donated to an Italian charity, Caritas.
This organisation then uses the money to buy rechargeable shopping cards for needy people in Rome.
Interesting fact – a vandal put some colour liquid in the fountain back in 2007. This caused the fountain water to turn red.
The sight amazed visitors, but the management drained the water and ensured no damage came to the drainage system.
You can see the site free of charge, of course. However, you may not know that there is more of it in the underground of the Trevi Fountain, a hidden gem that only a few people know about.
You can access the foundations with this Organised Tour, that includes a guided tour of the fountain itself.
Lunch or dinner at Pane e Salame
Surely this walk has contributed to increase your appetite, if you ever need it in Italy.
Rome is a city with lots of touristic restaurants and bars, with “prezzo fisso” meals where you have a pre-set lunch or dinner that usually comes with wine and an espresso coffee for a very reasonable price.
Although it is a very convenient way to eat, it does lack a beat in character.
Pane e Salame is a little gem visited by plenty of locals, which is always a good sign.
For 5-7 Euro you can eat spectacular sandwiches with the freshest ingredients.
Add a bit more for cured meat boards, with dips, cheese and locally produced products from Lazio, the Rome region.
There are options also for vegetarian, which is great too. The wine list is small but well selected.
You can take your food away and eat it at one of the many steps in Rome, or seat at a table for a 1euro service fee.
Photos from the Colosseum to Trevi Fountain walk