Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Rome City Trip - Fountains and Gardens

Fontana del Pantheon
Fontana del Pantheon

ROME DAY 3: Fountains, the Spanish Steps and Villa Borghese

/
/
/

Begin today with breakfast at the Caffè Farnese in the serene Piazza Farnese. The Florentine-style, sixteenth-century palace, embellished by Michelangelo, is now the French Embassy. The adjacent Piazza Campo de' Fiori is best visited in the morning, too, when the lively market brims with fruits, vegetables and, of course, flowers. (Fiori is Italian for flowers.)

Lion detail on the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi
Lion detail on the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi

For the rest of the day, use the city's most famous fountains as your guide, starting with Bernini's Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) in the oblong Piazza Navona. It's supposedly one of Rome's inside jokes, as the four figures look away in horror from church of Sant'Agata in Agone, built by rival architect Borromini.

Afterward, direct yourself east (away from the river) toward the sixteenth-century Fontana del Pantheon for its intricately carved marble basin by Filippo Barigioni.

From there, cross the busy Via del Corso and follow the signs to the Piazza di Trevi, where the most famous Roman fountain gushes to crowds of coin throwers. According to legend, tossing a coin into the fountain (over the shoulder) guarantees a return trip to the Eternal City. The majestic Palazzo Poli serves as a dramatic backdrop and was made famous by the film, "La Dolce Vita."

This might be time to enjoy some more of the sweet life at nearby Il Gelato di San Crispino, famous for its San Crispino flavor with corbezzolo (a sort-of wild strawberry from Sardinia).

Trevi fountain
Trevi fountain

The last fountain of the day is a few blocks north, across the Via del Tritone, at Piazza di Spagna. The Fontana della Barcaccia by Bernini draws attention for its peculiar boat shape, which refers to the flooding that used to plague the square. Tourists are often seen drinking the fresh water spouting from the side of the structure, so go ahead.

Lunch options in the neighborhood are plentiful. Otello della Concordia in the Palazzo Povero has lovely outdoor seating in a tree-covered courtyard, and traditional trattoria dishes. A more funky and fashionable choice is the Osteria Margutta, decorated with twentieth-century art and serving excellent tortelloni.

Work off some of the meal afterwards with a climb up the Spanish Steps. Continue north to the Villa Borghese, Rome's principal park and home to the exquisite Borghese Gallery. This small museum displays Renaissance paintings by Rubens, Raphael, Titian and Caravaggio, as well as several sensuous statues by Bernini, including "Apollo and Daphne." Due to the gallery's popularity and intimate size, visitors are required to purchase tickets in advance for an available time slot.

Villa Giulia
Villa Giulia

Also within the Villa Borghese gardens is the Villa Giulia, where classical concerts are held in the evening during the summer. Finally, just outside the park, the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna showcases works from Italian artists from the late nineteenth century to 1945.

Keep the park theme going with a memorable dinner at Casina Valadier. The restaurant is situated in a sumptuous villa atop the Pincio gardens that affords a breathtaking view over Rome. Otherwise, exit Villa Borghese at Porta Pinciana and take in a dose of the dolce vita on Via Veneto, the street that inspired Fellini's film. Although it's no longer a bastion of youth and glamour, its stately elegance is still worth a nostalgic stroll.

Take your last nightcap at historic Harry's Bar. Their classic dry gin martini is guaranteed to wash away the bitter taste of having to leave the Eternal City.

MORE ROME INFORMATION

Ready to book a trip now?
Get exclusive savings on hotel rooms.


P122006
USG031914

Located in world-renowned wine regions from Napa to Bordeaux to South Africa, these historic roads offer both great wine and beautiful scenery.
Beyond the crowds on the Adriatic Sea, the clamor of Rome and the charmed Toscana lies an Italy yet undiscovered by many American travelers.