The Rome you may have missed: Why book a Walks of Italy tour

For anyone who can say, “I’ve seen the major sights of Rome, what next?” the answer is Walks of Italy’s Hidden Gems and Ancient Wonders tour. Perfect for adults and teens, this 3.5 hour tour dips in and out of the city and suburbs or Rome to hit upon a somewhat arbitrary yet completely fascinating bouquet of small stops. None of the sights on the tour take more than thirty minutes to view, and with stops ranging in topic from Jewish history to cannon fire to aqueducts, there’s something for everyone.


What to expect on a Walks of Italy tour:

Before the tour, we honestly thought 3.5 hours might be a little long. In fact, the time flew by, no doubt due to our funny and passionate guide, Andrea. It also didn’t hurt that unlike every other day in Rome, we were mostly off our feet, hopping in and out of a luxury van.

We only had eleven people in our group (three of which were from our family), which meant we were not one of the massive tour groups walking around the city. We started at Piazza Venezia, where we learned about the history of the buildings there and glimpsed the second century ruins that most overlook (away from the Forum). We then walked the short distance to the Jewish Ghetto and Jewish colosseum, where we learned about the history of Jewish Romans from the time the ghetto was established in the 1500s to the Nazi occupation.


We got in our van, and drove past the Circus Maximus and Palatine Hill to view something I’d been hoping to see in Rome: the view of St. Peter’s from the keyhole of the Knights of Malta. This brotherhood swore to protect the Vatican, hence the symbolic placing of the keyhole. It really is magical to peek inside this unassuming keyhole and see St. Peter’s dome perfectly framed there…like looking into some secret porthole. And while I’d read about this wonder in a guidebook, no way could I have found it on my own!

We then headed out the Appian Way, passing the Baths of Caracalla and stopping at the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella. While I’d been on the Appian way in the past, I’d never known there was so much in this area besides the many catacombs. We learned about the road, stopping to walk along it, see the chariot groves in the stone, and learn about the purpose and use of the road. From here, we went to the Park of the Aqueducts, which is actually just a large space with well preserved stretches of aqueduct. In other words, had we gone out here on our own, we really wouldn’t have known what we were looking at, precisely. In fact, each stop Andrea took us to was something we’d never be able to navigate or learn about on our own.


We finished the tour with a few more ‘drive by’ views and a stop at Janiculum Hill, where every day at noon, a cannon blast is set off to let the churches know when to ring their bells. Today, traffic obscures the cannon shot in most neighborhoods, which is why we had not heard it once in our five days in Rome! We certainly heard it from the hill! This is great place to take photos of the city, too. Finally, we drove down a particular street with a view of St. Peter’s dome that creates an optical illusion due to the street’s size and curve of its sidewalk: as you drive closer to the dome, it actually appears to grow smaller. This is yet another small tidbit of Rome I never would have discovered on my own.


We stopped several times for bathroom breaks and/or food breaks along the way, each time at a nice cafe with a friendly staff and great atmosphere. Snacks were on our own; our 11-year-old had the best pastry he found in Rome at one next to the Jewish Ghetto. Again, this tour should not be your first activity in the city, as it won’t hit the headliners, but is rather the perfect thing to do with your last morning in the city, or during repeat visits.

How to book:


It’s easy to book your tour directly through Walks of Italy. We booked online, and printed our confirmation email, which also listed our meeting time and location (just look for the person holding a Walks of Italy sign). They also do tours of the biggies, like the Colosseum and Vatican. They do offer lower prices for kids. Grab breakfast before you go, bring water, and try to be at your meeting point about 10 minutes before the tour time listed.

As we disclose whenever applicable, Walks of Italy offered us a media rate for this tour, for the purpose of review. All opinions remain our own.