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Rome's Hippest Neighborhoods



It just so happens that my two favorite neighborhoods in Rome are also the hippest 'hoods in town. Both parts of town have gone through something of a hipster revival over the past ten years. Not only are they my favorite areas to explore and eat in, they are also excellent neighborhoods to stay in.

The areas of "Monti" and "Trastevere" are picturesque and historic neighborhoods bursting with character in central Rome. Both have an abundance of rapacious ivy, crumbling colorful plaster walls, and cobble-stoned streets. Both are full of hip little cafes, local artisan shops, and delicious traditional and modern cuisine. It is hard to decide which one I prefer, so I thought I would share the best of both. Adding a bit of either of these areas into your Rome itinerary will give you a taste of the softer and more enjoyable side of Rome I am always talking about.




MONTI
The Monti neighborhood stretches from the Column of Trajan east to the church of Santa Maria Maggiore and from via Nazionale south to the Baths of Caracalla. Despite being one of the largest and most historic neighborhoods in Rome and surrounded by major ancient monuments, tourist rarely venture into the heart of Monti. The center of this area is the Piazza delle Madonne dei Monti where locals love to sit and chat while people watching. This area also has a lot of great ethic cuisine, when you tire of pasta and pizza.

What to See:
Domus Romani
Step back in time and explore the excavations of Roman houses. But unlike most Roman ruins in Rome, these come to life thanks to projections that digitally reconstruct the architecture and decor of the ancient homes.

The Market of Trajan
Today you can stroll what remains of the world's first mall. Thank you emperor Trajan!

The Ruins of Villa Aldobrandini
I only recently discovered this neighborhood secret. Tucked away on a hill overlooking the forum and column of Trajan, the ruins of an once-grand renaissance villa are now a park. You will find only a hand full of locals here with their dogs.

San Pietro in Vincoli
The massive tomb for Pope Julius II was supposed to be Michelangelo's greatest masterpiece. He worked on the project for much of his life. Sadly after the death of the Pope the project was scaled down dramatically. All that remains today is located in this nondescript little church. Despite not realizing his vision, however, Michelangelo did complete the central figure of the tomb. Michelangelo's Moses, as it is commonly referred to, is an incredible work that demonstrates his genius and shouldn't be missed!

Where to Stroll:
Via Panisperna
Via dei Serpenti
Piazza delle Madonne dei Monti
Via Leonina

Where to Eat and Drink:
Cafe Monti
Libreria Caffè Bohemien
Vino & Caffe - I mean, what more do you need?
Analemma Cafe
Grezzo - A chocolatier!
Broccoletti - Amazing, but busy. Be sure to book ahead.






TRASTEVERE
It doesn't get much more picturesque and charming than Trastevere. This neighborhood sits across the Tiber river south of the Vatican. Unlike much of the city, Trastevere was not demolished or overly transformed during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. So the area retains much of its Medieval character -- romantic winding alleyways and rough cobblestone streets. Finally, Trastevere is still inhabited by actual Romans (and tourists of course), which means it's full of great restaurants, atmosphere, and nightlife.

What to See:
Santa Cecilia in Trastevere
This gorgeous medieval, renaissance, and baroque church is dedicated to Saint Cecilia. Cecilia was (according to legend) scalded, suffocated, and beheaded for her Christian faith in the 3rd century. The church is worth a visit for its beauty and the moving baroque sculpture of St. Cecilia's martyrdom.

Santa Maria in Trastevere
Another gorgeous church, but this church is one of the oldest churches in Rome. Inside note the mismatched Roman columns repurposed for the nave and the golden 13th century mosaics in the apse.

Palazzo Corsini (and Library)
This gorgeous baroque palace was once home to the powerful and prominent Corsini family. Today you can visit the palace and marvel at their manuscript, book, and art collections.

Villa Farnesina
Another stunning noble villa, the Farnesina was home to the famed Renaissance banker Agostino Chigi and boasts frescos by Raphael.

Where to Stroll:
Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere
Via delle Lungaretta
Via della Scala
(Really just get lost!)

Where to Eat and Drink:
La Boccaccia - delicious pizza on the go.
La Scala in Trastevere
Dar Sor Olimpio
I Vascellari - Best carbonara in Rome!
Impiccetta

You can find more of my posts on Rome here:
Where to Stay in Rome
Where to Eat in Rome
How to Conquer Rome in Two Days


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Ashley B
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4 comments:

  1. Would you recommend driving to Sorrento from Rome? Currently planning a trip to Rome and Sorrento, debating on a rental car or taking the train to Naples and then the hydrofoil from Naples to Sorrento. :)

    Thank you!

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    1. Rachel, sorry I missed your comment until now! Hopefully it isn’t too late. A rental car is easy to drive from Rome to Naples, but I actually prefer the high-speed train. It is quick, direct, and you don’t have to deal with traffic. Have an amazing trip!

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  2. I would recommend taking the train to Naples and renting a car in Naples for the drive to Sorrento, but I like Naples (My profile pic is a street scene taken there at night) and would take it as an excuse to spend a few days there as well. In the summer of 2014, we drove from Naples to Nocelle. The drive from Naples to Sorrento (and beyond) is very nice and relatively tranquil, but be forewarned, ALL the stereotypes about Italian drivers are joyously celebrated in Naples, getting in and out can be hectic. Other things to consider, if you are planning on driving to Sorrento and parking the car for the duration of your visit, bus or boat will be much cheaper. There are toll roads (bring change and beware scammers who will try to "help" you pay the toll), depending on where you are staying, you may have to pay for parking. Finally, all the surrounding coastal towns are easily accessible by ferry, and the views from offshore are pretty spectacular. That said, it is fun to brag about driving down the coast, In Italy ;)

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    1. I agree on the train, I much prefer it over driving in Naples. Kudos to you for driving the “Nastro Azzurro” though, you are braver than me!

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