TravelTraveler Magazine

Tour Guide: Walking Rome

This month’s issue of Traveler offers up some of the most authentic offerings found in Rome. And writer and Traveler reader Emilie C. Harting sends over her own favorite pick for exploring the city.

Walk this way in Rome. Do you know how to avoid the 2-3 hour lines for such treasures as Vatican City with its Museum, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s, or the Colosseum with its adjacent Palatine Hill and Roman Forum? Or find quiet little alleyways that empty into such favorite, but ever so crowded sites as the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, and Piazza Navona? Answer: Rome’s Presto Tours expose the secrets to this remarkable city, which was begun over 2,000 years ago and keeps rebuilding itself with the same stones. 

I took four of Presto’s three-hour Rome tours recently and found the guides knowledgeable, personable, and entertaining. At Vatican City and on the Roman Forum and Colosseum walk, I saw literally ten times more than I had on a previous trip. On a tour of Trastevere, one of the most cosmopolitan of Rome’s neighborhoods, our guide recommended cafés on narrow streets leading out from a square with buildings dating back to A.D. 400. On the Rome City Tour we walked through the major squares at night—the lights shone on the facades of buildings and the sculptures in the fountains.

At the end I traced our steps on a city map. We’d had a geography lesson on central Rome: ever so useful for returning to spots we’d passed on the way. Most important, I explored the city while enjoying the camaraderie of others in a small group.

Photo: Bob Krist for National Geographic Traveler’s Authentic Rome cover story.