Hey! It’s another walk. From the Pantheon to Santa Maria della Vittoria in order to view Bernini’s masterpiece, St. Teresa in Ecstasy.
If you keep detours to a minimum (I can’t help myself wandering off-route, but maybe you can), this walk is only about three miles total. It’s a loop that takes in some of Rome’s wondrous sites (as though there are any other kind, right?) There is a slight climb as the goal, Santa Maria della Vittoria, stands atop Quirinal Hill. Overall, it’s an easy walk. I started off quite early (about 7:00 AM), arriving at the church just as it opened and returned to our lodging before mid-day–even with detours.
Part I: The Pantheon to Fontana di Trevi.
This leg of the walk is just over a mile.
If you start at the Pantheon, go left of the structure and toward the Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minvera. Take a left at the elephant and head down Via Santa Caterina da Siena to Via del Pie di Marmo. The street’s named for one of the reasons walking about Rome is so wonderful.
At the corner of Via del Pie di Marmo and Via di Santo Stefano del Cacco, you’ll see Piede di marmo (literally, “marble foot”). It’s an enormous (four foot long!) sculpted, sandal-clad foot. It’s all that remains of a colossal statue of a goddess–likely Isis.
Continue down Via del Pie di Marmo, and you’ll soon find yourself in Piazza del Collegia Romano. St. Ignatius of Loyola founded the school in the 16th century; it’s now a high school (the Italian government confiscated the College’s buildings during the Risorgimento). Pass through the alley toward Via del Corso and turn right. You’re beside Santa Maria in Via Lata (Via del Corso was formerly called Via Lata). The church is ancient, having originated in the 5th century). Legend holds that Paul the Apostle lived in a building on this site for two years. Similar legends add that he lived there with Peter, John the Evangelist, and Luke as well.
Continuing south (just for a bit), you’ll pass the ornate Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, a private residence and art gallery. Look straight ahead, and you’ll see Piazza Venezia and the
Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II. If it’s early and quiet, you might walk to the end of the street for a photo in the morning light.
Turn around, and head north. On your right, just after passing Santa Maria in Via Lata, San Marcello al Corso comes into view. This church was also founded in the 5th century. The current building is from much later (after a series of fires and floods), with a lovely 17th century facade.
Continuing down, look on the left for Piazza Collona; the column, which has stood in this spot since 193 AD, celebrates Marcus Aurelius’s successes, but the statue that tops it represents St. Paul. It’s fronted by an elegant fountain created by Giacomo della Porta, who also designed the two smaller fountains at Piazza Navona (those of the Moor and Neptune).
Turn back onto Via del Corso, and begin going south. At Via dei Sabini, turn left and continue down the street–it turns in Via dei Crociferi–to Fontana di Trevi, a 17th century masterpiece that . . . well, I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with it.
It’s a stunning monument, and it’s even more stunning in early morning, when, in quiet, you can watch the light play on the figures, move around the work to absorb its fine details, or just sit and soak it in. Also, if you call out “Marcello! Come here!,” no-one will be there to hear it (if you don’t get the reference, that’s all good. Feel free to ask).