Ancient Meets Hipster in Rione Monti
Rione Monti, Rome’s first ward (rione). The neighborhood for the cool and young, the old and vintage. For those who want a serving of cobblestone, antiques and artisans, with a side order of beauty, great food and the best bars in Rome. Centrally located between Piazza Venezia and the Colosseum, this is The place to while away the afternoon peeking into vintage stores, paging through old books, grabbing coffee in Rome’s chicest cafes, chatting over aperitivo, and people watching at the fountain in Piazza della Madonna dei Monti. A tiny quartiere, it’s a haven between the tourist traps of Via Nazionale and Via Cavour, and much more Roman than the more popular districts like Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Navona. This is working-class Rome, where older couples maintain tradition, even as young entrepreneurs open trendy galleries.
Monti gentrified and emerged as a haven for artisans in the 1930s when Mussolini’s grandiose Via dei Fori Imperiali swept in, but in the Roman period it was the Suburra, or low-class slum, with a disgraceful reputation and full of prostitutes and pimps. (You can still find a few lingering today on Via dei Capocci). In fact, the wall built to separate Monti from Imperial Rome still stands stoutly against the forums of Augustus and Vespasian.
But today, it’s cool factor, charm, and village atmosphere make it a favorite hangout for locals and expats. Start at the fountain in Piazza Della Madonna dei Monti, the heart of Monti for its beauty and buzz. As you continue, stunning views of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore burst at you from Via Panisperna, and endless ivy walls and ancient relics reflect a Rome from long ago, but never lost. Monti’s character shines from every street, a trendy village, old versus new, both classic and chic at once. To complete your experience, walk the streets at night, where the meld of peace, vibrance and history make Monti truly magical.