Passeggiata in Rome ★★

The evening passeggiata on Via del Corso, Passeggiata in Rome, Rome, Italy (Photo © Reid Bramblett)
The evening passeggiata on Via del Corso

The evening passeggiata stroll on Via del Corso is Rome's quintessential see-and-be-seen event

Italians had a tendency to elevate every element of daily life into an art form, from the clothes they wear (Ferragamo, Fendi, Gucci, Armani) to meals they cook.

Think about it: in Italy, the very accoutrements of daily like are forms of art, from tea kettles (Alessi, Bialetti, Langostina) and automobiles (Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Lamborghini, Ducati) to movies (Fellini, anyone?).

Heck, until prima donnas like Michelangelo happened along to change things, even the decorating of walls and painting of pictures was widely considered to be a common laborer's task.

So leave it to the Italians to turn their daily, pre-dinner stroll into the premier social event of each day.

During the evening passeggiata ("little walk") between 5 and 7pm, half the city turns out in their best clothes to see and be seen—but mostly to be seen fare la bella figura, ("cutting a beautiful figure").

Where to passeggiata in Rome

Via del Corso is ground zero for Rome's most fashionable passeggiata evening stroll, awash with citizens, men and women alike, linked arm-in-arm (or, these days, arm-in-one-arm, the other arm crooked to hold a cellphone to the ear).

Each neighborhood, however, has its own main street for strolling (see sidebar to the right).

Passeggiata is a babble of lively conversation as everyone window shops their way up and down the street, everyone checking out everyone else (and even more crucially, being checked out), bumping into friends and acquaintances, and perhaps making impromptu plans to head off to dinner together.

Just because there's probably no one you know to bump into (or the fact that you left your Armani suit or Prada dress at home) doesn't mean you shouldn't get right out there and join the throng.

It is perhaps the most Italian part of any day in Italy, and if nothing else the walk will help you work up a hearty appetite for dinner.

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How long does Passeggiata take?

Stroll for however long you like—usually 30–45 minutes.

Try to work into your passeggiata a little nibble here and there—most fashionably (and cheaply) by visiting stuzzicchini bars for aperitivo hour when free finger food and canapés are laid out on the bar. » more.