Get lost in 16th century Rome.
As if to underscore that point, we ran into Fulvio de Bonis, a local art historian, who led us on a back alley tour the likes of which would rival any guide’s itinerary. It was during this time that we learned of Via Giuia, a beautiful street named for Pope Julius II. It’s an area unencumbered by tourists, but it hides the side of Rome that many come to the Eternal City to discover.
Via Giulia is roughly half a mile of cobbled street built in the 16th century under the tutelage of Pope Julius II. The plan was to construct a square that complimented the near-by Vatican, and although the project was never finished, Via Giulia remains one of the most notable collections of art, architecture, and culture to grace the city. Most Roman films are staged here, and with a backdrop inspired by legends like Raphael and Michelangelo, it’s easy to see why. Many consider Gonfalone, the oratory of Via Giulia, to be the Sistine Chapel of the Counter-Reformation, a time during the renaissance that saw the baroque style rise to prominence, but without a guide familiar with the ins and outs of true Roman culture it would be hard for outsiders to stumble upon. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. As Fulvio puts it, the best way to find hidden gems in Rome is to get lost in the city. And after spending a few hours under his guidance, we were inclined to do just that.