I offer this post as a torture tour for all those travelers who refuse to listen to their jet lagged minds and bodies or for when the ache and pain in their legs and feet has yet to reach the breaking point. Wary travelers, ye be warned: here are some tips on things to see once the sun goes down.
First things first, it is essential to note that as a traveler you will automatically find night touring to be one of the greatest things to do in a city. Night walks are FREE, the crowds have completely dwindled to the point where it is bearable to walk on the sidewalk, you are free to take as many pictures as you want (with no one in your shot!) and let’s not forget that less crowds means you are less likely to have anything stolen….as long as you’re with a buddy. Safety in numbers!
Piazza del Popolo
Window shopping down Via del Corso is completely different at night. I guarantee the threat of being hit by a car, shoved into the street and then getting hit by a car, or tripping off of the miniature sidewalk, with thousands of people trying to walk, and then falling into the street only to then be hit by a car, will never happen at night. Stop by the Spanish Steps on your way to the piazza (hopefully it won’t be under construction like it was over the summer of 2014!) and once you arrive to Piazza del Popolo, head up to the Villa Borghese Park entrance and get a view of the entire piazza. Keep your eyes out for St. Peter’s!
Speaking of Via del Corso, why not stop for a bite of one of the greatest Tiramisu shops at Pompi (Via Albalonga, 7b/9/11)? In case you’re a coffee flavor hater, like me, Pompi offers different flavored tiramisu! I recommend the nutella and banana, pistachio, and strawberry. Absolutely mouth watering.
While the Tiber River can often have a putrid garbage and fecal scent wafting from its waters, it is still one of the most beautiful places to visit at night. If you are visiting Rome during the summertime, you will notice tented restaurants, hookah lounges, small dance floors with dj’s, and even boat parties lined along the water.
Funky art pieces, homemade jewelry and other crafts can also be found along the sidewalk, but the most important of them all would be the drink stand with a GIGANTIC ice block that is shaved for mojitos, pina coladas, etc. After swimming in your own sweat during the 90+ degree summer nights, you will enjoy that refreshing drink.
Keep in mind, the river party only happens during the summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a lovely stroll and a picture or two. Walking from St. Peter’s Basilica to Castel Sant’Angel is one of my favorite walks, plus it’s very well lit.
Random things to watch out for while walking along the Tiber: pigeons, pigeon poop, trash, more pigeon poop, bats, guano (Ace Ventura fans know what I’m talking about), and did I mention pigeon poop?
Bring a bottle of wine, maybe cups if you’re feeling fancy, and park it in front of this majestic amphitheater. Keep in mind that the last buses are around 10 p.m. so expect to walk to your next destination or get ripped off by a taxi. If you happen to be in Rome during the holidays, you’ll get to see an epic Christmas tree and decorations.
Piazza Navona, Pantheon, & Trevi
Trevi Fountain is top five for the most beautiful sights of Rome, and dare I say it is even more beautiful at night. Make sure you bring that American penny you’ve been carrying around so you can have
tourist fulfillment wish fulfillment.
1. Turn your back to the fountain.
2. Place coin in in right hand.
3. Toss coin over left shoulder.
4. Make that wish.
Or if you’re not big on all the hocus pocus, feel free to pull a La Dolce Vita and hop into the fountain:
Though the polizia and carabinieri are everywhere to discourage you from taking a dip.
Continue in a quasi-diagonal to the Pantheon and then onto the Piazza Navona. During the summer, don’t try to be too annoyed by the constant offers to buy piece of crap toys that make god awful noises or light up and fly into the sky. Late night gelato shops are always a great fix in the sweltering summer nights.
If you happen to be in Rome for the holidays, Piazza Navona is transformed into a Christmas spectacular street with decorations and many little carts selling Holiday treats and hand crafted gifts.
St. Peter’s Basilica
If you feel like being a masochist or creating your very own Rome walkathon here’s a night walking guide:
Begin at: Piazza Navona
Then: Fontana di Trevi/Trevi Fountain
After that: Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti/Spanish Steps
Towards: Piazza del Popolo
Next: Basilica di San Pietro/St. Peter’s Basilica
Continuing to: Castel Sant’Angelo
Passing By: Piazza Trilussa
Finally: Tiber River (towards Viale di Trastevere)
At minimum, a three hour walk and a hell of a calorie burner. Only do this if you have comfortable shoes, an amazing travel buddy to pass the time with, the stamina of a Roman warrior, and the smarts to take frequent stops for vino, gelato, and/or espresso.
Lastly, be smart about night travels. Don’t take anything expensive and try to keep what you carry with you down to the basics: €60, your phone, a copy of your passport, a map, and the key to your room is plenty.