The roman’s best-kept secret: one of the most pleasant residential neighbourhoods of the city
Are you fed up with overrun roman touristic spots? Discover the Trieste and Africano areas, which are sure to surprise you!
Quartiere Trieste (not to be confused with the Italian city carrying the same name), is a neighbourhood located in the North area of Rome, and the Quartiere Africano is a part of it located in its eastern quarter, where every street refers back to the colonial period and the Italian invasion of Eastern Africa – hence the name. The neighbourhood is sandwiched between the areas of Parioli, Montesacro and Nomentano.
What is most impressive about this district is that you don’t feel like you are in the Italian capital. Indeed, it feels more like a village, where the people you meet soon become acquaintances and where ordering a coffee will get you to quickly learn Italian, as foreign languages aren’t really spoken, making the whole area feel very authentic.
At first glance, you will be mesmerised by the brightly coloured buildings: yellow, red, ochre, as well as the deep green of the umbrella pines adorning the sky. The neighbourhood is also full of small shops with local and high-quality products.
Moreover, it would be impossible for you to ignore the many “LUISS” backpacks that are carried on the backs of passers-by. In fact, you find yourself in an area where many students live because it is close to the universities of La Sapienza and LUISS. This makes the area vibrant and young, as demonstrated by the many bars that open in the evening.
A rich and extensive history
History may not be your cup of tea, but this neighbourhood is inseparable from its past. In fact, archaeologists found evidence of the first humans in the Monte delle Gioie, dating back 2.8 million of years.
As mentioned, the streets of the Africano part of the area evoke the Italian colonial period as well as being the area of railway workers in the early 1920s. After the Second World War, an urbanisation policy led to architecturally unifying the whole Trieste/Africano quartiere and thus producing this warm residential suburb as one of Rome’s best-kept secrets.
Best Things To see in Rome’s Quartiere Trieste/Africano
I don’t want to reveal all of Trieste/Africano’s surprises, but I suggest you visit the following places:
- Quartiere Coppedè: take a walk through the narrow streets and be lulled into its Art Nouveau and Baroque architecture.
- Complesso monumentale di Sant’Agnese fuori le mura: Plunge into the past, by exploring the beautiful mosaics of Santa Costanza which are among the oldest monumental Christian mosaics surviving in Rome as well as the Mausoleum of Santa Costanza.
- Catacombe di Priscilla: If you don’t mind burial grounds, step into the catacomb where Christian burials took place from the late 2nd century through to the 4th century.
- Piazza Caprera: Exploring can be draining, and there could be nothing better than having your after-lunch coffee in this sunny and quiet spot, accompanied by the soothing sound of its fountain. It is the ideal place to feel like a true Roman.
- Villa Torlonia: The Casino Nobile’s ballroom of Villa Torlonia will enter your dreams and so will the Casina delle Civette.
- Villa Paganini: called “Villa Mussolini of the poor”, taking a walk in this little park is most pleasant and a delight of dog lovers.
- Villa Ada: previously the Italian royal House of Savoy. Villa Ada also holds the title of Rome’s second largest park, with 450 acres, and is rich in flora and fauna
Where to drink?
When the sun goes down, the neighbourhood comes alive with a festive atmosphere.
Via Spalato, 35-39
Open Mon-Fri 10am-2pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-2am
This urban-styled bar offers an extensive list of drinks, served by a welcoming staff, which will delight any homesick American. This United States-themed bar specializes in burgers and french fries, which are the perfect match for their happy-hour cocktails. The bar also offers veggie burgers.
Via Bellinzona, 2
Open Mon-Sun from 6pm
This lounge bar reminds us of 1930s New York with its tasteful interior designed in a retro style. You can experience a wide range of cocktails and liquor, as well as a tasty buffet which adds rhythm to the live music. Indeed, the Cotton Club is the ideal place if you want to experience a dinner/drink show with a high-sound quality music experience.
Enoteca Graziani will teach you about Italian wine! The waiters (English speaking) are helpful when it comes to recommending certain wines. Moreover, the wine is of excellent quality as well as being fairly priced (€ 4-5 glass). In this relaxing environment, we recommend you try a prosciutto and cheese aperitivo to match your wine.
Via Fezzan, 21
Open Mon-Sat 6pm-12am; Sun 12pm-3.30pm, 6pm-12am
The masters of mixology are here! Hats off to the owners, who are passionate about their work and create a friendly atmosphere in the bar. It is the place to discover several exceptional flavours, which will convert your aperitif into a tasting session.
Via Nemorense, 201
Open Mon-Sat 7am-12am
Aperol Spritz are particularly cheap but the cocktails, in general, are innovative, cleverly elaborated and very tasty. Embedded in an industrial chic style atmosphere, you will enjoy this open-late night bar.
Where to eat?
The area offers plenty of excellent restaurants tailor to Roman taste.
Viale Gorizia, 38-44
Open Mon-Sat 12.30pm-3pm, 7pm-00.30am
An elegant restaurant with Italian specialities revisited by the owners. The typical Italian pizza oven in one corner (that supplies both the restaurant and takeout customers) is charming. However, try to book in advance as it gets busy.
Via Clisio, 1
Open Mon-Sun 12.30pm-3pm, 7pm-11.30pm
Visit this typical Italian restaurant, full of locals trying to escape from overrun touristic places. The manager and waiters’ service are warm and pleasant; they genuinely want you to have a great experience. The dishes are Mediterranean style with meat and fish, but there are vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options.
Via Chiana, 87/A
Open Tue-Fri 8am-11pm, Sat-Sun 9am-11pm
This bistro is definitely worthwhile…it is the place to experience high-quality and authentic Italian food, where each ingredient is selected with great attention and in a sustainable way. You will fall in love with the fresh juices (carrot, apple, ginger, etc.). There are also vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.
Piazza Caprera, 8
Open Mon-Fri 7.30am-11pm, Sat-Sun 9am-11pm
This place will make you feel at home… A lovely atmosphere to experience the traditional Italian coffee at every moment of your day. The outdoor patio is full of plants and gives you a charming view of the Piazza Caprera.
Via Chiana, 87/A
Open Thu-Sat 12.30-3pm, 7.30pm-10.30pm; Wed & Sun 12.30-3pm
Recommended by the MICHELIN Guide, this restaurant is ideal to have a (quite expensive) nice dinner: excellent service and original Roman flavours are waiting for you. There are options for vegetarians.