Take 4 hours for this walking tour of the Capitol, Aventino and Testaccio. Enjoy the view from the Capitol and the Orange Garden and reward yourself with culinary specialties in the Testaccio district.
The tour leads over two of the seven hills. You walk from Piazza Venezia over the Capitol and past the Bocca della Verità to the Aventine and on to the Testaccio. On this way you will experience churches, culture and some culinary specialties. The recommended route is around 6 kilometers / 3.7 miles long and the difference in altitude is around 65 meters / 213 ft.
Since the Testaccio market closes in the afternoon, the tour is better suited for the morning.
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Capitol hill and Bocca della Verità
Start your tour in Piazza Venezia around 9 a.m., can climb up to the Capitol from Via dei Fori Imperiali and have a beautiful view over the Roman Forum.
Once at the top you pass the Palazzo Conservatorio, which is part of the Capitoline Museums, and then turn left through an archway to Piazzale Caffarelli, from where you have a nice view over the ghetto and the city. Even more beautiful is the view from the terrace of the café in the Palazzo Conservatorio. You can visit it without paying the museum entrance fee. It opens at 9:30 am.
Then go down the wide staircase and turn left to the Theater of Marcellus and to the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin with the Bocca della Verità. The church opens at 9:30 am and you should be there in time to avoid long queues at the mouth of the truth. There is a small amount to pay for access to Bocca della Verità. The mask was probably used in ancient Rome as a manhole cover and was then walled in here at some point. It’s mentioned for the first time in the 11th century in a guide book for pilgrims. The basilica dates back to the 6th century and was rebuilt in the 12th century. It is a rare example of the sacral architecture of the 12th century in Rome. In the crypt from the 8th century, there are several relics, which were transferred from the catacombs to here.
The Aventine hill
Now you are on your way to the Aventine Hill. It is one of the seven hills in Rome and has a height of 141 ft.
The rose garden of the municipality of Rome
After visiting the basilica, turn left to the Circus Maximus. At the center of the Circus, cross the street at Piazza Ugo La Malfa and find a pedestrian walkway that crosses the rose garden of the municipality of Rome. The garden is open in spring and autumn. When the garden is open, you go up through the garden and out on the other side, otherwise you turn left at the end of the pedestrian walkway.
The Orange garden
The street is called Clivo dei Pubblici, then turn right into Via Eufemiano and right again into Via Sant’Alberto Magno. At the end of the street on the left you will see the forecourt of the Basilica of St. Sabine. There is the entrance to the Orange Garden, one of the most beautiful viewpoints on the Aventine.
Basilica of Santa Sabina all’Aventino
Then you can visit the basilica, which is a popular wedding church. The church dates back to the 5th century and the Pope celebrates Mass on Ash Wednesday. The basilica closes at 12:30 noon.
The Basilica of SS. Bonifacio e Alessio
If you continue, you will come to a small park, which also offers a beautiful view. It belongs to the Basilica of Saint Boniface and Alexius. Also this basilica dates from the 5th century and is a popular wedding church. So many weddings on the Aventine, it could be called the wedding hill. Also this basilica closes at noon at 12:30.
Maltese Order and Keyhole
If you follow the road, you will come to the square of the Order of Malta. It was designed in the 18th century and is full of symbolism. Here, in a gate, is the famous keyhole, in the center of which you can see the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. To bring the St. Peter’s dome in a keyhole on a photo is a feat!
By the way, the Order of Malta is a state without territory and issues its own stamps and coins. The only state territory is its government palace in Via dei Condotti near the Piazza di Spagna and the villa on the Aventine.
Right next to the square of the Maltese is the papal liturgical institute of St. Anselm. The church dates from the 19th century. Again, many like to marry here. The church is open all day.
You now descend from the Aventine on Via di Porta Lavernale and reach Via Marmorata.
The Testaccio borders on one side the Via Marmorata and on the other side the Tiber. On the third side it ends at the city wall. In the center rises a hill of potsherds. The testaccio is known for good food. Here the food from the Roman provinces was delivered on boats and the Roman slaughterhouse was located on the Tiber.
From Monday to Saturday we recommend a small culinary tour, on Sunday you should go directly to the non-catholic Cemetery. For the Cemetery, turn left on the Via Marmorata and then right in Via Caio Cestio. Last admission on Sunday is at 12:30pm, the cemetery closes at 1 pm. During the week the last admission is at 4:30pm.
If you come from the Aventine, you will find the Trattoria Perilli across the street from Via Marmorata. Maybe you want to remember them for a dinner with typical Roman cuisine. Right next to it is Volpetti, one of the first addresses for delicacies in Rome. Volpetti offers bread, cheese and sausages that are otherwise difficult to find in Rome – genuine and selected specialties. In addition, it offers ready-to-go preparations. Volpetti closes for lunch break at 2 pm. It also runs a tavern around the corner in Via Alessandro Volta.
If you go down Via Volta to the end, you will come to the Testaccio market. To the right of Via Volta you come to Piazza Testaccio with a beer bar with a huge selection of beers, including champagne beers.
In the market of the Testaccio fruit, vegetables, meat and fish, clothing and household goods are sold. But interesting is the market because of the many stalls with street food. In the center of the market there is a bar.
A celebrity in the market of the Testaccio is the box Mordi e Vai. Here you will find sandwiches with specialties of traditional Roman cuisine. A lovingly prepared pizza you get at CasaManco.
Monte dei cocci – restaurants and discos
To the left of the market, on the other side of Via Galvani, is the potsherds hill. Unfortunately, it is a little complicated to visit. Archaeologists are digging here.
In ancient Rome, food from the provinces was unloaded in this area at the Tiber river. In particular, the amphorae, which were filled with oil, could not be reused, and were thrown away here. To neutralize the rotting oil residue, lime was thrown over the shards, stabilizing the hill. The hill is 115 ft high.
Very picturesque is the road between the old slaughterhouse and the hill, Via di Monte Testaccio. There are many restaurants and discos here. Halfway up a staircase leads through a park.
The foreigners cemetery
On the other side is Via Caio Cestio and there is the entrance to the foreigners Cemetery. It is the cemetery of non-Catholics and is located at the city wall. Here many non-Catholic foreigners, but also Italians, are buried, including many famous names.
A short walk across the cemetery is worthwhile. The cemetery closes at 5pm during the week and at 1pm on Sunday. Last admission is half an hour before. Admission is free, but a small donation is welcome.
Ostiense – Eataly
After visiting the cemetery, turn left into Via Caio Cestio and left again through the town gate. The zone is called Ostiense. On the left, you will come to the Pyramid and the Metro B. If you continue under the railway bridge, you will come to some buildings with impressive graffiti. Then take the Via del Porto Fluviale to the left in the direction of Ostiense and at the next intersection, see the ice cream shop La Romana. There you shall taste a good ice cream. The ice cream cones can be covered with chocolate and there are creams in different flavors.
A worthy culinary end to your tour is, if you continue on the other side of Via Ostiense following Via Pellegrino Matteucci to the delicacies temple Eataly. There you will find the best that Italy has to offer in terms of food and there are numerous well-kept restaurants.
For the way back you can take bus 715 from Eataly to Piazza Venezia or you go through the underpass under Ostiense station and then to metro B or to the pyramid with various bus connections and the tram line 3.
How to go on from the pyramid
If you are still fit, you can attach one of our suggestions for the afternoon. The pyramid and Ostiense train station are a hub from which you can continue in many directions.
To the Colosseum, take the Metro B or tram line 3. The Basilica St. Paul is two stops on the Metro B in the direction of Laurentina. If you want to go to the Appia Antica and the Catacombs, take the 118 bus from the Colosseum.
Bus 23 takes you along the Tiber to Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican. Line 30 will take you to Piazza Venezia and Piazza Navona.
Other suggestions for the morning in Rome
Here are some other suggestions that are good for a morning in Rome.