A little farther along the road you come to the Church of Santa Sabina , called the `` Pearl of the Aventine '' .
Continue another hundred yards to the Piazza of the Knights of Malta .
On the wall of this square there are delightful bas-reliefs of musical instruments .
The massive gate of the Maltese villa affords one of the most extraordinary views in Rome .
If you look through the keyhole , you will see an artistically landscaped garden with the white dome of St. Peter's framed in a long avenue of cropped laurel trees .
Retrace your steps a few yards on the Via Di Santa Sabina and turn right on the Via Di S. Alessio , a street lined with stately homes .
Oleanders , cypress , and palms in the spacious gardens add much color and beauty to this attractive residential section .
Turn left a block or so before the street ends , and then turn right down the Via Di Santa Prisca to the Viale Aventino .
Here you can pick up a taxi or public transport to return to the center of the city .
The renaissance city
to the piazza Navona and pantheon
These two walks take you through the heart of Rome .
You will walk some of the narrow , old streets , hemmed in by massive palazzi .
You will visit a few churches that are exceptional yet often by-passed , a magnificent square , the main shopping district , the Spanish Steps , and the lovely Pincian Gardens .
By seeing such varied places , both interesting and beautiful , you will become aware of the many different civilizations Rome has lived through , and in particular , get a feel of Renaissance Rome .
You will realize why Rome is indeed the Eternal City .
Start on the Via D. Teatro Di Marcello at the foot of the Capitoline Hill .
The majestic circular tiers of stone of the Theatre of Marcellus give you some idea of the huge edifice that the Emperor Augustus erected in 13 B.C. .
Twenty-two thousand spectators used to crowd it in Roman days .
Andrea Palladio , an Italian architect of the sixteenth century , modeled his designs on its Doric and Ionic columns .
Wander past the three superb Columns of Apollo by the arches of the theatre .
The remains of the Portico of Octavia are now in front of you .
Climb the steps from the theatre to the Via Della Tribuna Di Campitelli for an even better view of the Columns of Apollo .
Turn to the right along a narrow street to the tiny Piazza Campitelli , then proceed along the Via Dei Funari to the Piazza Mattei .
Here is one of the loveliest fountains in Rome , the Fontana delle Tartarughe or `` Fountain of the Tortoises '' .
It's typical of Rome that in the midst of this rather poor area you should find such an artistic work in the center of a little square .
Stand here for a few moments and look at this gem of a fountain with its four youths , each holding a tortoise and each with a foot resting on the head of a dolphin .
The figures have been executed so skillfully that one senses a great feeling of life and movement .
Opposite is the Palazzo Mattei , one of Rome's oldest palaces , now the headquarters of the Italo-American Association .
Go inside for a closer look at a Renaissance palace .
In the first courtyard there are some fine bas-reliefs and friezes , and in the second a series of delightful terraced roof gardens above an ivy-covered wall .
The Palazzo Caetani , still inhabited by the Caetani family , adjoins the Palazzo Mattei .
Keep straight ahead on the Via Falegnami , cross the wide Via Arenula , and you will come to the Piazza B. Cairoli , where you should look in at the Church of San Carlo Ai Catinari to see the frescoes on the ceiling .
Follow the colorful and busy Via D. Giubbonari for a hundred yards or so .
Now turn left at the Via dell' Arco Del Monte to the Piazza Dei Pellegrini .
Just a few yards to the right on the Via Capo Di Ferro will bring you to the Palazzo Spada , built in 1540 and now occupied by the Council of State .
Paintings by Titian , Caravaggio , and Rubens are on display ( open 9:30 to 4:00 ) .
Before you enter the palazzo , note Francesco Borromini's facade .
The great architect also designed the fine interior staircase and colonnade which connects the two courts .
The large statue on the first floor is believed to be the statue of Pompey at the base of which Julius Caesar was stabbed to death ( if so , the statue once stood in the senate house ) .
( This is shown in the afternoon and on Sunday morning .
By tipping the porter , you can see in the courtyard Borromini's unusual and fascinating trick in perspective .
When you stand before the barrel-vaulted colonnade you have the impression that the statue at the end is at a considerable distance , yet it is actually only a few feet away .
The sense of perspective has been created by designing the length of the columns so that those at the far end of the colonnade are much shorter than those in front .
The gardens of the palazzo , shaded by a huge magnolia tree , are most attractive .
The courtyard is magnificently decorated .
From the Palazzo Spada you continue another block along the Via Capo Di Ferro and Vicolo De Venti to the imposing Palazzo Farnese , begun in 1514 and considered by many to be the finest palace of all .
Michelangelo was the most distinguished of several noted architects who helped design it .
Today it is occupied by the French Embassy .
Its lovely seventeenth-century ceiling frescoes , as well as the huge guards room with a tremendously high and beautifully carved wooden ceiling , can be seen Sundays ( 11:00 to 12:00 noon ) .
Ask to see the modern tapestries of Paris and Rome designed by Lurcat .
Directly in front of the palace along the Via D. Baullari you will come to the Campo Di Fiori , the famous site of executions during the turbulent days of Renaissance Rome .
Today , by contrast it is a lively and colorful fruit , vegetable , and flower market .
Continue on the Via D. Baullari to the Corso Vittorio Emanuele , then turn right for a couple of hundred yards to the Church of Sant' Andrea Della Valle .
As you approach the church on the Via D. Baullari you are passing within yards of the remains of the Roman Theatre of Pompey , near which is believed to have been the place where Julius Caesar was assassinated .
The dome of the church is , outside of St. Peter's , one of the largest in Rome .
Opera lovers will be interested to learn that this church was the scene for the first act of Tosca .
At this point you cross the wide Corso Vittorio Emanuele 2 , , walk along the Corso Del Rinascimento a couple of hundred yards , then turn left on the Via Dei Canestrani to enter the splendid Piazza Navona , one of the truly glorious sights in Rome .
Your first impression of this elongated square with its three elegant fountains , its two churches that almost face each other , and its russet-colored buildings , is a sense of restful spaciousness -- particularly welcome after wandering around the narrow and dark streets that you have followed since starting this walk .
The site of the oblong piazza is Domitian's ancient stadium , which was probably used for horse and chariot races .
For centuries it was the location of historic festivals and open-air sports events .
From the seventeenth to the nineteenth century it was a popular practice to flood the piazza in the summer , and the aristocrats would then ride around the inundated square in their carriages .
Giovanni Bernini's `` Fountain of the Rivers '' , in the center of the piazza , is built around a Roman obelisk from the Circus of Maxentius which rests on grottoes and rocks , with four huge figures , one at each corner , denoting four great rivers from different continents -- the Danube , the Ganges , the Nile , and the Plate .
The eyes of the figure of the Nile are covered , perhaps either to symbolize the mystery of her source or to obscure from her sight the baroque facade of the Church of Sant' Agnese in Agone , the work of Bernini's rival , Borromini .
In the Piazza Navona there are many delightful cafes where you can sit , have a drink or lunch , and watch the fountains in the square .
The scene before you is indeed theatrical and often appears in movies about Rome .
Perhaps a street musician will pass to add that extra touch .
Take the Via Di S. Agnese in Agone , next to the church and opposite the center of the square , then turn right after about two hundred yards to reach the beautiful Church of Santa Maria Della Pace .
Inside you will find the lovely Sibyls painted by Raphael and a chapel designed by Michelangelo .
The church's cloisters are among Donato Bramante's most beautiful creations .
Now return to the Piazza Navona and leave it on the opposite side by the Corsia Agonale ; ;
in a moment cross the Corso Del Rinascimento .
In front of you is the Palazzo Madama , once belonging to the Medici and now the Italian Senate .
Walk by the side of the palazzo and after two blocks along the Via Giustiniani you will come to the Piazza Della Rotonda .
You are now facing the Pantheon , the largest and best-preserved building still standing from the days of ancient Rome .
This circular edifice , constructed by Agrippa in B.C. 27 , was rebuilt in its present shape by the Emperor Hadrian .
It was dedicated as a church in the seventh century .
As you pause in the piazza by the Egyptian obelisk brought from the Temple of Isis , you will admire the Pantheon's impressive Corinthian columns .
The Pantheon's interior , still in its original form , is truly majestic and an architectural triumph .
Its rotunda forms a perfect circle whose diameter is equal to the height from the floor to the ceiling .
The only means of interior light is the twenty-nine-foot-wide aperture in the stupendous dome .
Standing before the tomb of Raphael , the great genius of the Renaissance , when shafts of sunlight are penetrating this great Roman temple , you are once again reminded of the varied civilizations so characteristic of Rome .
As you leave the Pantheon , take the narrow street to the right , the Via Del Seminario , a block to Sant' Ignazio , one of the most splendid baroque churches in the city .
( Along the way there , about one hundred yards on your right , you pass a simple restaurant , La Sacrestia , where you can have the best pizza in Rome .
) The curve of faded terra-cotta-colored houses in front of the church seems like a stage set .
This is one of the most charming little squares in this part of Rome .
One block along the Via De Burro ( in front of the church ) will bring you to the Stock Exchange in the old Temple of Neptune .
A few yards farther , on the Via Dei Bergamaschi , is the Piazza Colonna .
The great column from which the square takes its name was erected by the Emperor Marcus Aurelius .
You are now at the Corso , though narrow , one of Rome's busiest streets .
Horse races took place here in the Middle Ages .
If you have taken this stroll in the morning , and you have the time and inclination , walk to the right along the crowded Corso for half a dozen blocks to visit the fine private collection of paintings -- mainly of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries -- in the Palazzo Doria ( open Sunday , Tuesday , and Thursday , 10:00 to 1:00 ) .
Here is your opportunity to see the inside of a palazzo where the family still lives .
Otherwise , cross over the Corso and walk a block or so to the left .
You will come to Alemagna , a delightful , though moderately expensive restaurant , which is particularly noted for its exceptional selection of ice creams and patisseries .
Either here , or in one of the modest restaurants nearby , is just the place to end this first walk through the heart of Rome .
To the Spanish steps
The second walk through the heart of Rome should be taken after lunch , so that you will reach the Pincian Hill when the soft light of the late afternoon is at its best .