Up-and-coming Ostiense: The eclectic neighbourhood changing things up
Once Rome’s Cinderella, Ostiense is going through a makeover phase that is quickly transforming this district into one of the most dynamic places to live like a local in the Eternal City. Crossed by the historical Via Ostiense (built in Roman times to link the capital with the strategic harbour at Ostia), Ostiense borders the popular working-class areas of Garbatella and Testaccio.
New life has begun to bloom over the last couple of years, thanks to the many fresh restaurants and pubs opening in the area, not to mention the gastronomic multi-level center that is Eataly. The finishing jewel on the quarter’s newly fitted crown will be the redevelopment of the huge Mercati Generali surface.
In a 2020 article from The Guardian, Ostiense was selected as one of the 10 coolest neighborhoods in Europe.
Although more vibrant post-sunset, Ostiense also makes a very unique destination for a day-time walk. Street art is king in this area, with the best works to be found along Via del Porto Fluviale, Via dei Magazzini Generali, and under the railway bridge between Via della Stazione Ostiense and Via Pellegrino Matteucci.
The best restaurants and bars in Rome’s Ostiense
MUST SEE in OSTIENSE
Via Raffaele Persichetti
This ancient pyramid in Rome near the Porta San Paolo was originally built as a tomb for Gaius Cestius, dating back to 12 BC. The fork between two ancient roads, this impressive structure is one of the best-preserved ancient buildings in Rome. – not to mention a very impactful meeting point (the Piramide Metro station is right across the street). Visits are temporarily suspended.
The Non-Catholic Cemetery
Via Caio Cestio, 6
Another great find in the areas is the Protestant Non-Catholic Cemetery just around the corner (entrance from Via Caio Cestio 6), a hidden corner of Rome and resting place of romantic poets Keats and Shelley, as well as other notable figures such as Gramsci, William Story and painter Hendrik Andersen.
Ostiense has some of the best street art and graffiti in Rome spanning from Tormarancia to Porto Fluviale, the most vivid mural being Fronte del Porto on Via del Porto Fluviale by world-famous graffiti artist BLU. Several other pieces can be found in the surrounding streets from other street artists like ROA, Sten&Lex and Lucamaleonte. But the best way to explore is to wander around by foot or Vespa.
Via Ostiense, 106
Tues – Sun 9am – 7pm
Set in a former power plant, Centrale Montemartini is the fascinating complex where modern and Ancient Rome collide. Classic works of art and statues are displayed in an industrial setting among old engines of the Machine Room. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday 9am-7pm.
Via Giuseppe Libetta, 1
Officine Fotografiche (Photographic Workshop) is a non-profit association created to spread awareness and support of the art of photography. A meeting place for photography professionals, amateurs and enthusiasts, Officine Fotografiche has a training center for all levels as well as special workshops, free activities, a library and café.
Piazzale 12 Ottobre, 1492
A gourmet retreat in Rome, Eataly is the epitome of Italian cuisine and gourmet shopping in Rome’s Ostiense neighborhood. It’s also the largest Eataly in the world. For more information read our full article.
Mercato Vintage Ecosolidale
Via del Porto Fluviale, 2
This original market housed in the industrial lofts of Ostiense is where you can come to donate or shop around for everything from furniture, clothes, toys and jewelry. It’s also a great (and fun) way to give back to the community. Open on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 4pm to 7pm.
Basilica San Paolo Fuori le Mura
Piazzale San Paolo, 1
Daily 7am – 6.30pm
Majestic and monumental, this grand Basilica will leave you breathless thanks to its sheer beauty. The square and gardens outside are a very popular gathering place for locals: sit on a bench and enjoy the sun, while children and dogs frolic around you. Enter Papal Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, and gold-plated ceilings, statues and the portraits of all Popes from Saint Peter to Francis will tell you the story of this immense shrine of Christianity.
Porta San Paolo
Tue-Sun 9am – 1pm
One of the few remaining gates of the 3rd century Aurelian Walls of Rome. In ancient times Porta (door) San Paolo served as the beginning of the road that connected Rome and Ostia. Nowadays it’s the entrance to the Via Ostiense Museum where you can find an archeological exhibit full of prints and documents about this famous road. Open every day from 9am to 1pm, the venue is also used for special exhibitions and conferences.