On one end of Via Nazionale is Piazza della Reppublica and at the other end is Trajan’s Market. So this is a great, straight street to access major sights quickly.
If you start your trek at Piazza della Reppublica, please first visit Santa Maria Degli Angeli. It’s the ugly brown building at the very top of Via Nazionale. However, this ugly brown building is actually quite amazing! Santa Maria Degli Angeli was constructed inside the preserved structure of the ancient roman Baths of Diocletian, 300 A.D. In the 1560s, rather than demolish the famous baths, Michelangelo designed the Santa Maria Degli Angeli to fit inside the bath compound. The vaulted roof and some of the red granite columns that you will now see in the church are from the original structure. The plain, brown facade of the church is also original to the ancient baths, though its bronze doors and their interesting carvings are modern—added in 2006. Because the basilica is a meeting point of many Roman eras, from 300 A.D. to present, it’s the perfect place for Italy to celebrate itself. That explains why Santa Maria degli Angeli was the official state church of Italy and continues to be the site of national burials. The art in the basilica is very interesting and wide-ranging. You might be surprised by the diversity inside. Another surprise is a meridian line that spans the floor of the basilica. You’ll see a big golden line and zodiac symbols, designed as a sundial in 1702. At solar noon, which varies in Rome according to the season from around 10:54 a.m. to 11:24 a.m., the sun shines through a small hole in the basilica wall to cast its light on this meridian line each day. Also, be sure to head towards the left of the main chapel into the small chapel where exhibits are held and then emerge into the basilica’s, half-circle inner courtyard. Facing you will be a giant bronze statue of Galileo and surrounding you will be the towering outer structure of the original Diocletian Baths, with original planks of marble sticking out of the worn brown-red brick. I have never felt so puny and awed by Roman architecture than in this simple courtyard. There’s magic here!
Then walk down Via Nazionale. There is a wide range of shops here—from cheap teenager-haven clothing shops to elite designer boutiques. There is also a wide range of restaurants—from upper crust cafes to American chain-food restaurants. Any taste and budget can be met on Via Nazionale. The street definitely lacks the charm of most other main shopping streets in Rome. This is very much a Big-City shopping street, much like you’d find in downtown Big Cities. Via Nazionale, therefore, doesn’t feel quintessentially Italian. However, if you want serious shopping or simply a break from quaint, stereotypical Bella Italia, then this is your street.
You will reenter the hardcore, iconic Rome soon enough as you head in the direction of the big horses that top the Victor Emmanuelle Monument. You can see the horses during the walk and will finally reach the back of Trajan’s Market. You’ll get a nice, seemingly private view of the backstreets and apartments of Trajan’s Market—which are actually just as well preserved as Pompeii. It's a big treat, although also a little eerie, to see a place so frozen in time. Keep heading towards the Victor Emmanuelle Monument (which will likely be hidden from you by other buildings at the end of your walk). Via Nazionale will then transform into a very steep set of stairs which will deposit you down to the front of Trajan’s Market, directly facing Trajan’s Column. The Forum and Coliseum will be to your right; the Victor Emmanuelle Monument will be across the street, in front of the Capitoline Museum. And towards your right will be the direction towards the Pantheon.
As you can see, Via Nazionale can offer a shopping spree and food options in the midst of two major sightseeing points.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.