Rome’s famous quarter of Monti dates back to the ancient times of Forum Romanum. Back then, it was a densely populated region where the poorest citizens lived. Nowadays, Monti is the most popular, together with Trastevere, quarter of the city, where the best hip cafés, bars, and vintage shops can be found. Unlike Trastevere, Monti is located in the very center of the city, only a few minutes on foot from the iconic Colosseum.
This square is located in the center of Monti and is very easily reachable from the Cavour metro stop on line B. Most vibrant during late evenings and weekends, the historical Piazza della Madonna dei Monti looks like it has been taken live from a frame of a classy Italian film. In its center you will see a beautiful fountain that dates back to the 16th century. It is on its steps where you are most likely to find the young Romans after sunset, drinking cocktails from plastic cups and chain-smoking cigarettes.
This local gelateria, located at Piazza degli Zingari, offers one of the best homemade ice-creams in Rome. It offers both traditional, typical ice-cream flavors and unique creations such as: basil, ginger and pineapple, Gorgonzola, cherry and beer, or egg and nuts, to name just a few. Even if you go for a typical flavor, like chocolate, you will have to choose from eight different options. For those of you who favor a lighter, healthier option, there is also a large selection of sorbet treats.
Fata Morgana, Piazza degli Zingari, 5, Rome, Italy, +39 0 648 906 955
The Sunday market of the Monti quarter simply called Mercato Monti is located on via Leonina and offers a variety of vintage clothes (some of which are as unique as a silk kimono), accessories and jewelry, ranging from the local retailers to original craftsmen to world-known brands such as Vivienne Westwood or Jean Paul Gautier. This is where you can also find vinyl records and old cameras.
This church is a rare example of a building erected for a painting instead of the other way around. Commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII in the 16th century, Santa Maria ai Monti was designed by Giacomo della Porta and is a prime example of the European Baroque architecture. The artistic highlights inside the church are undoubtedly the frescoes on the dome which depict the four Evangelists and the painting at the altar entitled ‘Madonna with Child and St. Charles Borromeo’.
Libreria Caffé Bohemien is probably the most hip and artsy place in Monti. Decorated with unique, colorful furniture, paintings and vintage bookshelves, it offers the best selection of foreign beers and cocktails. No two rooms, and no two tables within a room, look the same here, and yet everything magically falls into place and creates an atmosphere of fantasy.
Libreria Caffé Bohemien, Via degli Zingari 36, Rome, Italy, +39 349 876 1054
This funky vintage shop à la 1960s is a weekdays alternative to Mercato Monti. Here you may find cheap and mid-priced clothes, shoes and accessories, some of which are a second-hand, albeit not exclusively. Moreover, once a week Pulp Vintage gets brand new vintage designer pieces from famous brands, such as Gucci and Channel. Watch out for cute ties, beautiful sunglasses and colorful handbags.
Pulp Vintage, Via del Boschetto 140, Rome, Italy, +39 06 485511
Palazzo delle Esposizioni is a museum, exhibition venue and cultural center, worth checking out both because of its beautiful neoclassical architecture from 1883 and the things you can find inside. The current exhibition focuses on the work of American artist David LaChapelle – his most recent creations from 1995-2005 and 2006-2015. Inspired by Michelangelo’s huge painting on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, LaChapelle’s most recent ‘The Deluge’ is a pop artwork that evokes an emotional shock in the visitor. Other artworks are surrealistic creations evoking the images from films, art history, and of famous celebrities.
Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Via Nazionale 194, Rome, Italy, +39 06 3396 7500
Another charming square in Monti is Piazza degli Zingari, ‘the square of the Gypsies’. This tiny, frozen-in-time square is one of the quietest parts of the quarter. The bikes parked here by the locals and the monumental plants make it look a bit like southern Italy. If you need a quiet break away from the nearby vibrant Piazza della Madonna dei Monti, stop here for lunch or a glass of wine in one of the newly-opened cafés.
The hip restaurant La Carbonara has been here since 1906 and probably offers the most traditional and authentic Italian cuisine around Monti. It is so casual that it allows you to write on the walls, so no wonder a lot of local artists and performers often meet here. Though it is difficult to choose from so many delicious options, we recommend artichokes and parmesan cheese shavings salad or buffalo’s milk mozzarella as appetizer, pistachio pasta or spaghetti carbonara as first course, and beef Straccetti with porcini mushrooms as second course.
La Carbonara, Via Panisperna 214, Rome, Italy, +39 06 4825176
Finnegan’s Irish Pub is the closest you will get to Ireland and the UK whilst being in Rome. Heavily dominated by English-speaking staff as well as customers, this pub retains a friendly and chilled atmosphere. It is also the only Irish-owned pub in the city. It offers Guinness and a selection of ciders to go with a football match, available to watch in every single room, or a fun game of pool.
Finnegan’s Irish Pub, Via Leonina 66, Rome, Italy, +39 06 4747026