Montesacro, also known as Città Giardino Aniene, a green oasis in Rome
Monte Sacro is a neighborhood of Rome with its unique identity. A 1920’s experiment that gave birth to an elegant and trendy area, Città Giardino offers a vibrant character that sets it apart from other Roman districts.
The prevailing combination of baroque and medieval architectural style encourages wandering the streets aimlessly. A delight for the eyes, this little village-type neighborhood not only displays exquisite architecture but also some of the best craft beer in Lazio (think Rebel, Jungle Juice, and Ritual). Città Giardino also seems to breed really passionate people. Passionate about what their quartiere has to offer.
I have lived in many neighbourhoods all over Rome. Central Rome, that is. I lived thinking that there was nothing green about this city and that my native London was incredible because you could be in the city and enjoy the greenery. When I arrived in Rome I thought nature was something you had to take a train for. Mind you, I wasn’t a metro expert either. I remember being at an art gallery with a friend and meeting the photographer who told me he lived near Conca D’Oro metro station and it sounded exotic. Five years later, I had buried this memory and found myself at the Conca d’Oro antiques market looking for vintage music records with my beau. When you arrive at the station, the only exotic is the surplus of oriental supermarkets.
That is the beauty of this tucked away neighborhood sitting on a hill 50 metres above sea level. It appears out of nowhere.As the landscape changed I saw villas with private gardens surrounded by pine trees. Irregular curvy roads that are rarely perpendicular to each other. I was captivated by that kind of harmony that lasts centuries.
Similar to the Garbatella neighborhood, Città Giardino was built by Gustavo Giovannoni, this time to facilitate services for its citizens. Walking from Ponte Tazio to Piazza Sempione you can find the post office, bus station and cinema in its immediate proximity. But here is the catch… biodiversity. My nervous system settles as I take a breath of fresh Parco dell’Aniene air infused with the chirping symphony from the birds and crickets. I find my bench seat while a flock of sheep pass me and in an instant I feel Roman countryside rather than chaos.
History of the Montesacro neighborhood
In 1919 the “Cooperativa Città Giardino Aniene” was established to create a neighborhood intended for the middle class railway families.
In 1924, Aniene Garden-City was born and Gustavo Giovannoni, a Roman engineer, architect and urban planner took the project on.
In 1950, with the building of the GRA so happened the expansion from the original garden city. Today it is still charming but there are far more buildings than initially intended.
Things to see and do in Città Giardino Aniene
Via Passo del Furlo, 57
So after I drop my daughter at nursery school, I usually get foolishly lost on one of the labyrinth streets. Lucky for me I found a spring water fountain one of those times! Ever since the sacred well was drilled in 1911 it has consistently provided extremely pure water, with moderate mineralization. Buy the bottles on the spot or reuse your own glass.
ANIENE VALLEY NATURE RESERVE
Whichever way you walk, you will hit the Aniene nature reserve. It is conveniently separated into smaller designated park areas, wildly celebrating diversity in its own form. Walk along Viale Gottardo until you realize this will be a tree bathing excursion. Can you spot the oak, white willow and elm trees? Walk a little bit further if you dare to lose yourself amongst the sheep. If you still have energy, find yourself a plot of land to grow your vegetable garden like the locals do. Or perhaps, you might choose to head along Via Nomentana where the next medieval adventure begins; La Torre is used as a social center right between Via Nomentana and Via Tiburtina. If you get tired, just enjoy the crabs in the Aniene river. This is where the nature reserve gets wild. And don’t worry if you walk in the opposite direction, you will probably hit the Ponte Nomentano which is considered one of the most painted bridges since the Renaissance.
MERCATINO CONCA D’ORO
Via Conca D’Oro 143
If you stay close to Conca D’Oro metro station, pop into the Mercatino for some original vinyl records.
PARCO DELLE VALLI
Via Conca d’Oro
A skate park, a basketball course and free Capoeira on Saturdays. The park has three entrances: two on Via Conca D’Oro and one on Via Val D’Ala 19.
Where to eat and drink in Montesacro / Città Giardino
Viale Gottardo 23/25
Come here for the cocktails, stay for the speakeasy vibe. Less presumptuous than Jerry Thomas, this street bar has an impressive cocktail menu, which respectfully changes according to the seasonality of the ingredients. Come here with a full belly because their alcohol servings are generous and the only thing they offer to eat are taralli.
Via Levanna, 11
Participate in a cultural and social event at Brancaleone. Or a rave, or a movie or an arts show. You name it, the Branca is the venue for it.
Via Nomentana 631/633
So I had just moved to the area and my beau wanted to show off his quartiere by taking me to what he remembers as the best trattoria this side of town. A Citta Giardino family run institution, the antipasti far outweigh their primi and there is no need to indulge in a bottle of wine because their house wine is excellent. The service is no fuss and pushy if I may say. Another instance, my father asked for his secondo to arrive at the same time as his antipasto and the waiter refused! Call it tradition but I say, what happened to the customer is always right?? With the warmer weather, enjoy eating in the piazza overlooking the original historical Citta Giardino.
Viale Gottardo 18-20
Serving chill vibes in Citta Giardino this street bar has some of the best natural wines. Music that erases the traffic from Viale Gottardo , life seems to slow down. Wear your Birkenstock’s with your Gucci silk shirt.
SALUMERIA MAGRELLI DAL 1956
Via della Verna, 18
Actually considered Citta Giardino alto, this enchanting family run bistrot is presented on an idyllic street, portraying my actual aesthetic dining assumptions before moving to Rome. Incidentally, the traditional roman salumeria is internationally well stocked (even has Stilton cheese). The aperitivo tagliere is absolutely scrumptious as is dining for lunch. You simply cannot go wrong by stopping here for it meets all your needs!
Viale Carnaro 13c
Take it from this California lovin’ burrito fan; Matteo knows what’s up! Always down for a chat, the garden bar is a slice of Cali in North Rome. Although their burritos don’t quite replicate the Ventura food truck, the asian fusion food bowls are where its at! Add to that good quality American IPA and you feel like you’ve taken a breather from your day to day.
Viale Tirreno 2
Depending on the entrance, C1BO leads you to either a large beer garden or a trendy clothes shop. Whilst their cuisine does offer variety, it’s the type of kitchen that tries to be so international no one dish stands out- kudos to them for trying however. *This might just be a problem for Rome in general, I am not impressed, especially for brunch but that’s for another article). Super friendly staff, wide alcohol selection ( an entire section of their menu is dedicated to gin tonics) and great for families – as there is a fasciatoio in the bathroom! After you indulge in some Poke, grab your drink and have a meander at their clothes shop which is heavily influenced by the Northern European underground music scene. You can also book your birthday karaoke night here but don’t expect to follow the footie, the staff are basketball fans.
Viale Gottardo, 95
This bar is so up my street I am afraid of telling you about it. The staff are friendly, the ambience is unintentionally kitsch and it’s cool. You know that shabby chic carefully selected to mismatch decor? Here it is, my friends, in all its splendour.. Come here for aperitivo where the crowd varies from creative intellectuals to burnt-out musicians, all locals. The first time I picked up on the various italian accents I was drinking an aperol spritz. Yes, we are in Italy and sometimes it is refreshing to only hear italian ( once in a while)
PONTE TAZIO 1923
Corso Sempione, snc
If you are looking for a chill vibe, great music and a decent cocktail look no further than this little outdoor bar adjacent to the park and opposite the bus stop.. Usually popular during aperitivo hours and (pre COVID) after concerts at the Branca , experience drinking while watching the world go by.
TWENTY 2.0 MONTESACRO BEER CLUB
Viale Gottardo, 31
Every quartiere has a place that reminds you you’re not italian (or a man) I don’t understand nor want to perfect my romannacio but boy do they have an excellent selection of birra artigianale at a reasonable price. No fuss beer club. What more could you ask for?
Piazza Menenio Agrippa, 13/14
If you enjoy people watching while drinking exceptional beer this pub overlooking Piazza Menenio Agrippa is your sweet spot. The friendly staff and extensive selection makes up for the overpriced beers.
How to get to Città Giardino Aniene from the center of Rome:
- Take metro B to Conca D’Oro or Bus 90 to Ponte Tazio
- Enter after crossing Ponte Tazio
- From stazione Conca d’Oro walk along Viale Tirreno