As in many sunny countries, much of life in Rome is played out on the street. In the morning you can watch the city slowly wake up. Shop shutters are cranked open, rubbish collectors do the rounds, restaurants and bars set out their tables: Rome is readying itself for its close-up.
During the next phase, the fruit and veg markets in every rione (neighbourhood) will swell with people, with a predominance of matriarchs wielding grocery trolleys and showing a reckless disregard for queueing.
Throughout the day, people come and go on Rome’s piazzas and public spaces.
In Campo de Fiori, there’s a busy food market during the day, then the night character of the piazza changes towards the evening when its bars become busy, taking over the corners of the square.
Pedestrianised Via del Pigneto, to Rome’s northeast, follows a similar trajectory: markets in the morning, bars and cafe creating a party atmosphere in the evening.
In the historic centre, locals and tourist gather to rest and people watch on the Spanish Steps, but this empty as night falls.
Day or evening, the stadium-sized Piazza Navona ebbs and flows with people-watching entertainment, with hawkers, caricaturists and occasional street performers.
In the early evening the passeggiata (an afternoon/evening stroll) is an important part of Roman life, as it is elsewhere in Italy.
Locals will usually dress up before heading out. Like many other parts of everyday life, such as a coffee-drinking. Italians have elevated a seemingly simple practice into something special.
Romans will usually head to the area that’s most convenient for them.
Trastevere tends to be a broader mix of tourists and young people. Villa Borghese and Pincio Hill Gardens attract more families and are more tranquil. Via del Corso is popular among younger window-shoppers, while Rome’s smartest shopping strip, Via dei Condotti, attracts a mix of ages.
In summer, there’s the Lungo il Tevere festival on Isola Tiberina, and stalls along the riverside create a new area for early evening wanders.
Many people out on the stroll will opt, instead of paying 6€ or so to sit down and drink at a bar, to stop a more affordable gelato, which they can eat on their way.
In summer, you will see lots of people enjoying grattachecca (flavoured, crushed ice) along the banks of the Tiber.
The bella figura (“beautiful figure”, better explained as “keeping up appearances”) is important here, and the passeggiata is as much about checking everyone else out as it is about enjoying the atmosphere.
The passeggiata reaches its height in summer, ad 5pm or 6pm is when the heat of the day subsides. There’s not much else to do, so why not head out into the street?
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