Pincian Hill Area Walk, Rome (Self Guided)

Pincian Hill, overlooking the Campus Martius, lies outside the original boundaries of the ancient city of Rome. It was not one of the Seven hills of Rome, but it' is located within Aurelian wall. The Hill is home to the Pincio Gardens, an impressive park with terraces offering great views of Rome. Take this tour to explore the Pincian Hill and visit such famous sites as the Galleria Borghese, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna and Bioparco.
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Pincian Hill Area Walk Map

Guide Name: Pincian Hill Area Walk
Guide Location: Italy » Rome (See other walking tours in Rome)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.2 km
Author: audrey
Piazza del Popolo

1) Piazza del Popolo (must see)

Piazza del Popolo is a large urban square in Rome. The name in modern Italian literally means "People's Square", but historically the piazza takes its name from the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, in the northeast corner of the square. The piazza lies inside the northern gate in the Aurelian Walls, once the Porta Flaminia of ancient Rome, and now called the Porta del Popolo. This was the starting point of the Via Flaminia, the road to Ariminum (modern-day Rimini) and the most important route to the north. At the same time, before the age of railroads, it was the traveler's first view of Rome upon arrival. For centuries, the Piazza del Popolo was a place for public executions, the last of which took place in 1826.

Why You Should Visit:
A great starting point for those interested in walking their way through Rome, as it leads to many historic, cultural and social sites.

Head up the steps towards Villa Borghese for a great view across the piazza and over to the Vatican.
Also, when the summer sun is beating down on you, there is nothing like the shady retreat of Borghese park right above the piazza.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Pincio Gardens

2) Pincio Gardens

The Pincio Gardens (a.k.a. Pincian Gardens) actually date back to the ancient. The name of the park comes from the former residence of the Pincii family who lived here in the 4th century AD. Later the monastery of Santa Maria del Popolo used the hill as its vineyard.

The Pincio Gardens you see today is a 19th century make over order by Napoleon. The Italian architect Giuseppe Valadier laid out the gardens from 1810 to 1818 in a classical style which is more formal than the traditional terraced gardens of Rome. There is an Roman obelisk in the center of the gardens. The obelisk was commissioned in the second century AD by the Emperor Hadrian as a tribute to his dead favorite friend Antinoüs.

Probably the best treat for visiting Pincio Gardens is the panoramic view of Rome from the Pincio Terrace. Try to visit the garden around sunset in a clear day, when the view is the most stunning.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Santa Maria del Popolo

3) Santa Maria del Popolo (must see)

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo is a famous church in Rome situated on the site of a walnut tree that was believed to have attracted demons and ghosts. The current Baroque look of the church emerged in the 17th century following the renovation by Bernini. After his intervention, the church became a favorite burial place for the rich people of the city. The church is hemmed in between Porta del Popolo (the ancient Porta Flaminia) and the Pincio hill. It also contains works by several famous artists such as Raphael, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Caravaggio, Alessandro Algardi, etc.

It stands on the north side of Piazza del Popolo, one of the most famous squares in the city. The name del Popolo ("of the people") probably derives from its funding by the people of Rome, but some sources say it comes from the Latin word "populus", meaning poplar and referring to a tree located nearby. The chapel was enlarged and became a church by will of Pope Gregory IX in 1235, and was given to the Augustinian friars, who still oversee it, in 1250.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautiful baroque church, with some masterpieces (paintings by Pinturicchio and Caravaggio, among others).

Outside, in the piazza, make sure not to miss the sculpture of Neptune with his trident. Additionally, the Museo Leonardo da Vinci features a number of Leonardo's inventions built to scale, some of which can be operated by the public.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Thu: 7:15am-12:30pm / 4pm-7pm; Fri-Sat: 9am-10pm / 2pm-6:30pm; Sun: 9am-10pm / 4:30pm-6:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Explora Children's Museum

4) Explora Children's Museum

Located in the historical heart of Rome, Explora Children's Museum is the first Italian museum dedicated to children. It was designed as an educational paradise where children are allowed to observe, touch and experiment with everything. The museum hosts a variety of events dedicated to learning and it also has a shop selling books, toys and various gadgets.

Operation hours: Tuesday - Sunday: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
National Etruscan Museum

5) National Etruscan Museum

Housed in the 16th century Renaissance Villa Giulia is the National Etruscan Museum and you really shouldn’t miss this important collection dedicated to the Etruscan civilization. The museum was opened in 1889 and was moved to the Villa in the 20th century. The building itself was once the property of popes, built for Pope Julius III by Giacomo Barozzi da Vignda. When the Papal States ceased to exist in 1870, the Villa was seized by the Kingdom of Italy. It was occupied by royal family members and visiting officials until being given to the museum.

The museum’s collection may seem a bit morbid, dwelling as it does on many funerary monuments, burial relics and jewellery, but most of the artifacts are well preserved and beautifully executed, such as the Tita Vendia Vase, a wine jug dating back to 620 BC. You will see the wonderful terracotta sarcofago degli sposi, a funerary monument representing a couple in a reclining position. Two other funerary monuments of note are 6th century BC sculptures, one of a centaur, the other of a youth on the back of a sea monster. There is also an acroterion statue of Apollo and the head of a Gorgon, both created in the 6th century BC. The collection of jewellery is quite extensive and includes 8th century BC fibulae (brooches) made of gold, amber and bronze. You will also see various perfume jars from the 7th century BC sculpted to represent the human body. Don’t miss the Pyrgi Tablets: 3 golden sheets of a dedication, by the King of Caere to the goddess Astarte. These tablets were made in 500 BC and were written in both the Etruscan and Phoenician languages.

Operation hours: Tuesday - Sunday: 8:30 am - 7:30 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna

6) Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna (must see)

Rome is renowned for its beautiful churches, its museums and art galleries dedicated to Ancient Rome and the Holy Roman Empire, all of which are wonderful to visit, but if after a few days you start getting a bit stir-crazy gazing at endless Madonnas and statues of Roman emperors, why not visit the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, which will give you another idea of excellent Italian art.

The museum was started 1883 in the Exposition Palace built by Pio Piacentini. It moved to its present location on via delle Belle Art in 1915. It has 75 rooms displaying Neo-Classical and Romantic sculptures and paintings by 19th and 20th century Italian and foreign artists. The collection is organized around various schools of art including Symbolism, the Neo-Renaissance Decadent Movement, Italian verismo and Secessionism. Italian artists include Balla, De Chirico (the founder of the Metaphysical Movement) and Morandi. Among the foreign artists, you will find fine examples of works by Cezanne, Degas, Kandinsky, Monet, Klimt, and Van Gogh among others. There is also a very good collection of statues, including sculptures by Canova, Dupre, and Tenerani. The museum has a lovely garden with more statues and beautiful fountains. It’s a great place to sit for a while in the warm afternoon sun.

Why You Should Visit:
The exhibition has a mix of classic and new art; however, there's a beautiful flow to it, as you move from piece to piece and room to room.
Lost of Italian artists, but also some of the international big names.

There is a coffee shop by the entrance, then another larger cafe that serves light lunches/drinks (follow the signs or ask, as it is not easy to find but worth going to).

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 8:30am-7:30pm; closed on Mondays
Sight description based on wikipedia
Villa Borghese Garden

7) Villa Borghese Garden

Villa Borghese Garden is a large naturalistic landscape garden containing a number of buildings, museums and attractions. The garden takes its name from Villa Borghese on its territory. It is the third largest public park in Rome after Villa Doria Pamphilj and Villa Ada, and one of the most popular parks in Rome. Villa Borghese Gardens are located on the Pincian Hill, close to Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo. The gardens were developed for Villa Borghese Pinciana by architect Flaminio Ponzio.

In the 19th century the park was remade as a landscape garden in the English manner, containing several villas. The Spanish Steps lead up to this park, and there is another entrance at the Porte del Popolo by Piazza del Popolo.
Galleria Borghese

8) Galleria Borghese (must see)

At any time that you have a couple of hours to spare while you are in Rome, you really should make a reservation to visit the Galleria Borghese which has a wonderful collection of antiquities, paintings and sculptures. Visits are limited to two hours. The Villa Borghese, which houses the gallery, was built between 1609 and 1618 by Flaminio Ponzio and Giovanni Vasanzio, from designs drawn up by Cardinal Scipione Borghese. The cardinal was the nephew of Pope Paul V and as such benefited from the official post of Cardinal Nephew, which gave him great wealth and the right to “confiscate” various artworks in the name of the Church. Most of these confiscated items ended up in his private collection. Despite the cardinal’s somewhat unorthodox approach to building his collection, he was a great lover of art and antiquities. He was the patron of Caravaggio, around whom his collection started.

Today the gallery is composed of 20 rooms on two floors and you can admire Titan’s “Sacred and Profane Love” and two magnificent paintings of the “Disposition”, one by Rubens, the other by Raphael, among other great works. The ground floor is mostly given over to antiquities and there is a superb 3rd century mosaic of gladiators, Canova’s “Venus Victrix” and a wonderful trompe-l’oeil fresco on the ceiling. You will also see several sculptures by Bernini, another favorite of the cardinal, including “Apollo and Daphne”, “David” and the truly breath-taking “Rape of Proserpina”. This incredible marble sculpture is really life-like – you can see Pluto’s fingers sinking into the flesh of Proserpina’s thigh, and one side of his face is distorted as her hand tries to push him away.

Why You Should Visit:
Probably one of the best museums not only in Italy but the world.
Its manageable size means that you're able to see and admire most everything within the allotted 2-hour slot.
The park also has a lot to offer: bike riding, a zoo, walking paths, bike carts for families, etc.

You must absolutely pre-book online or by phone; this is the only way to gain entrance.
Ensure you arrive early to pick up tickets and check bags / rent an audio guide.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 9am-7pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

9) Bioparco

Bioparco di Roma is a 17-hectare (42-acre) zoological garden located on part of the original Villa Borghese estate in Rome, Italy. There are 1114 animals of 222 species maintained. The zoological gardens were first designed in 1911 by Carl Hagenbeck, an animal trainer who had already opened a zoo in Hamburg Stellingen. The park was built in the style of that in Hamburg: ditches and pits instead of bars, and generous green spaces. The park was expanded in 1926, 1933 and 1935, but it fell into disrepair after the Second World War; the cages weren’t properly adapted for the animals and there was a hygiene problem. The zoo was renovated in 1970 and then again in 1983. A final and complete renovation was carried out in 1998 when it was changed into the Bio Park that you can visit today.

It really is a great experience for both adults and children. The park’s 18 hectares have been adapted so that the animals are happy and so are the visitors. There is a petting zoo where you can enjoy close encounters of a furry kind; a playground with an open air theater near Lake Oasis where there is a large picnic area. Follow the educational paths to see lions, tigers and other wild animals. Don’t miss the Reptile House, which is full of creatures that began their lives as “pets” and were confiscated under the smuggling laws. The visit here starts with a short film on the theme of smuggling endangered species. You will find Kleinman tortoises, which are nearly extinct in the wild, and which were bred in the zoo in 2007. You will also come across – but not too close! – Mario, a splendid crocodile who, until his arrival in the zoo, had spent his life as a pet, kept in the bathtub! It makes you wonder where his former owners washed themselves!
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Rome, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Rome

Create Your Own Walk in Rome

Creating your own self-guided walk in Rome is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
City Orientation Walk I

City Orientation Walk I

Legend has it that Rome was founded in 753 BC by twin brothers Romulus and Remus who were raised by a she-wolf. However, the pair argued about who had the support of the gods, and Romulus ended up killing Remus in a fight on what became Palatine Hill. Thus, Romulus named the city after himself and declared himself as king.

In a slightly less glorious account, Rome actually began as an Iron Age...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Campo Marzio Shopping Walk

Campo Marzio Shopping Walk

As well as being one of Rome's most central quarters and, thus, one of its most desirable neighborhoods, Campo Marzio is filled with enticing boutiques and markets. Known as a mecca of fashion, this neighborhood actually has everything from antiques and foods to pop culture. To ease your shopping experience, we've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs that you can buy from some of Campo...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 km
Monti and Celio Walking Tour

Monti and Celio Walking Tour

To stay close to the action in Rome but be able to mingle more with the locals, look no further than the districts of Monti and Celio. Although Monti – the city's oldest district – doesn't boast grand monuments, it more than makes up for that with its lively, friendly atmosphere. Sitting on the fountain steps at Piazza Madonna ai Monti and watching the world go by is as rewarding as...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 km
Vatican Walking Tour

Vatican Walking Tour

Vatican City is a landlocked sovereign city-state consisting of an enclave within the city of Rome, it is the smallest recognized independent state in the world. The Vatican is one of the most sacred places in Christendom, it attests to a great history and a formidable spiritual venture. Although only 44 hectares in overall surface, the Vatican features several worthwhile places to see, such as...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
Sightseeing Walking Tour in EUR

Sightseeing Walking Tour in EUR

Esposizione Universale Roma (EUR) is a suburban area in Rome established in 1942, it was designed to host an exhibition which didn't take place due to World War II. EUR is popular for the period architecture of Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana. The area also contains some very important landmarks of history and culture, including Museo della Civiltà Romana, Pigorini Museo Nazionale...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 km
Holy Sites Walking Tour

Holy Sites Walking Tour

Being the cradle of the Catholic Church, one of the world's biggest religions, Rome has a large number of valuable, sacred places of worship. Crowded with architectural splendors from different periods of time, each church and basilica represents a significant part of Rome's culture and history. Take the following tour to discover Rome's magnificent religious heritage.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.9 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Souvenirs Shopping: 15 Authentic Italian Things To Buy in Rome

Souvenirs Shopping: 15 Authentic Italian Things To Buy in Rome

Rome is the Eternal City and, as such, the list of gift options available here is countless. Whether it's something edible, drinkable, wearable or pleasing to the eye that you want - you will find it all here in abundance. However, if time or budget is the factor, perhaps you might want to...
10 Best Food Markets in Rome Italy

10 Best Food Markets in Rome Italy

Of all the things Italy is most famous for (cars, music, fashion, movies, etc.), food is, undoubtedly, top of the list. Rome may well not be the whole Italy, but no Italy is whole without Rome... And the Romans, much as all their fellow-Italians, like it "fresco", hence the abundance of...
17 Best Gelaterias in Rome Italy

17 Best Gelaterias in Rome Italy

For ice cream lovers and dabblers this guide is a treasure chest of Rome’s best gelato shops. There are gelaterias everywhere. Many visitors to Rome only have a few days to explore the city. You owe it to yourself to make the most of your time and find the gelato locals eat. Often the authentic...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Rome for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Rome has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Rome's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Rome Tourist Card, OMNIA Card, Best of Rome Sightseeing Pass, or Omnia Vatican and Rome Pass.

A city pass combines all of or multiple Rome and Vatican City's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time. Some of them you don't even have to pick up but can scan straight on your phone at any of the city's major attractions/museums!

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Rome hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: Corso 281 Luxury Suites, Hotel Cosmopolita, Hotel Piazza Venezia.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Rome, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Rome typically costs from around US$20 up to US$80 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Rome and the Vatican City from the open top of the bus, listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get off at any of the stops along the route.

- Cruise along the river Tiber on a similar hop-on hop-off sightseeing boat to view Rome's top attractions from a different angle and be able to get on and off as often as you want at any of the stops along the Tiber riverbanks. The ticket is valid for one day (24 hrs) and may be upgraded to include a hop-on hop-off bus tour as well.

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour – this usually lasts 3 hours and allows visitors to get a real sense of the city. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise would have done by walking.

- Pedal your way around Rome on a 3-hour bike and food tour to visit the city's most spectacular sights, stopping at each of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning much about the Eternal City from an informative group leader, plus savor some of the iconic food of the Italian capital.

- Come see all of Roman highlights at a great discount on the Rome Super Saver tour combining two best-selling guided tours for the price of one! Be guaranteed to skip the lines to all the major sights like Colosseum, Roman Forum, and more.

- Take a guided walk to explore Rome's renaissance after the demise of the Roman Empire, learn about the contribution of many popes towards the Eternal City's rise to its present glory. Along with viewing the iconic landmarks, on this tour you will also get a chance to taste Rome's famous gelato (ice-cream).

- Step back in time to the days of the Roman Empire on a 3-hour night tour of Rome to discover the city's top attractions in a different light. Experience Rome's nighttime ambiance amid the twilight and the evening lights adding a romantic touch to the famous sights.

- Explore the artistic trail of Caravaggio in the Italian capital on the Caravaggio walking tour of Rome paying tribute to the great artist's legacy manifested in numerous paintings throughout the city (churches and monuments). Ideal for those on a short visit to Rome and not sure where to start!

- Combine sightseeing with cooking on a 4-hour experience incorporating the “best of Rome” walking tour and the authentic pizza-making class led by a professional Italian pizza chef.

Day Trips

If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Rome, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations, like the chic island of Capri, ancient Ostia, Siena and San Gimignano, Assisi and Spoleto, Amalfi сoast, or the ancient city of Pompeii. For as little as US$70+ to US$170+ per person you will get a chance to discover the highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites including gorgeous coastal scenery, historic seaport, charming medieval structures, birthplace of St. Francis, founder of the Franciscan religious order, ancient Roman ruins, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight at your hotel or a designated place in Rome, and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned bus, boat or a private vehicle (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.