I love walking the streets of a city. It is the perfect way to not just see a destination, but to actually see a destination. Walking is my way of discovering and exploring a city with all its facets. The noises, the people. The smells, the flows. The great unknown behind the next corner. Meeting the people, seeing their day-to-day activity.
I love to just stroll down the sidewalks, taking my time. The independence and the full control I have over my decisions. Will I slow down or even stop? Will I make a detour? Where will my curiosity take me next?
The slower pace allows a deeper inspection of the details around me. The balconies up in the air, the street art in dark alleys. I can pause to read the inscriptions on a building, to admire the detail of a medieval mural on an old apartment block. Shutters. Saints. Sun umbrellas.
Walking the streets of a city is essential when you want to get to know a place for real. It may take more time but it is more than just a means to get from one place to the next. It’s a being-in-the-place and becoming part of it. It’s the appreciation of new perspectives and the widening of horizons. The trick is to notice the small things, to take in the views not just on eye level but beyond.
European cities are perfect for walks. Their city centres are condensed, the older ones were built with pedestrian traffic in mind. Many modern European cities offer pedestrianised zones in the shopping areas. You can ride a hired bike or you can stroll along canals, make short cuts through parks, or watch the street performers in a square. You can window shop or give in to the temptation and sit down to enjoy a coffee in a real porcelain cup in a sidewalk café.
Rome with its ancient maze of cobblestone alleys is not just perfect for walks, it is the only way to get around in a reasonable way. Let me show in 26 photos how Rome revealed itself in front of my eyes – the ancient, the curious and the creative sides of a city that has been here for more than 2,000 years.
What about you? Do you agree with me on the benefits of walking a city and taking on a slow pace occasionally? Where is your most favourite urban walking destination?