When selecting your lodging, it is important to consider which of the neighborhoods in Rome might be the best for you according to your travel style and types of travelers in your group. Here are some local tips about where to stay in Rome, so that you can make an informed choice about which place might be best for you. T
he historical center of Rome has been divided into Rioni, or neighborhoods, since ancient Rome. We thought it would be useful to orient our neighborhood recommendations around the most common areas listed today on the hotel and accommodations booking sites to help you with your selection of lodging.
Monti is one of Rome’s oldest residential neighborhoods, and remains an official rione. Located in a very central location between the Coliseum, the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, and the Quirinale, yet nevertheless unfrequented by tourists and full of locals. We love Monti for the local food and shopping, and convenient location, walking distance from Stazione Termini. Even in Roman antiquity, this tiny neighborhood, known then as Suburra, was packed with working class Romans. Today it has become chic, with high real estate value for Romans living in the city center.
You will find hipster vintage shops and local artisans’ boutiques and workshops along the small street of Via del Boschetto. In the evening, locals meet at Piazza della Madonna dei Monti at the end of Via dei Serpenti. In the vicinity you will find hip wine bars, such as the famous Tre Scalini, with vines draping the street against ochre walls, and locals spilling out in the streets with their drinks at aperitivo hour.
Monti is also a great location for families because it is so central, with a small supermarket, nice cafes and bakeries for breakfast (try the Antico Forno Serpenti at Via dei Serpenti 122-123), and simple pizzerias. Kids will love Gelateria Fattamorgana in Piazza degli Zingari, where you will find homemade, seasonal gelato named after fairytale favorites.
Stay at Domus Aurora right behind Termini, for a cozy B&B and affordable accommodation to explore Monti area.
The area around the Pantheon is a charming labrynth of ancient streets, many of which are unreachable by car. Whereas the immediate streets that feed in to the piazza in front of the Pantheon can be very crowded and are not a desirable area to stay, there are some quieter streets in the area where you can enjoy a taste of local life. This location in general is absolutely central and you can easily walk to almost any destination in the historical center. It is important to consider that you may not be able to arrive door to door in a taxi, and so for this area, we recommend using the Prontopia app to book help from a friendly local getting where you need to go easily.
Among our favorite places near the Pantheon are Piazza della Minerva, a charming little piazza that once held a temple to Minerva. Today the center of the piazza boasts the famous Elephant and the Obelisk stature by Bernini, a whimsical elephant stature with an ancient Egyptian obelisk on top that was excavated nearby.
Just past the Pantheon, in another tiny piazza, is Café Sant’Eustachio, one of the most famous coffee bars in Rome. Across from the café, is our favorite spot for pizza by the slice in Rome, at Pizzeria Zaza, where you can get fresh unique pizza slices, such as fried zucchini flower, for only a few euros. Both places are in Piazza Sant’Eustachio.
The long, oval-shaped Piazza Navona sits on the site of an ancient first-century stadium. Today the piazza is famous as the site of Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers. The piazza is a lively place lined with popular cafes for an aperitivo drink and street musicians. During the holiday season, the piazza is transformed into the La Befana Christmas Market. There are two wonderful local toy stores, one at each end of the piazza.
This is a central place to stay if you want that classic look of red checked café tables lining the tiny streets. You will find this surrounding the area of the connector street of Via del Governo Vecchio. It is a touristy area for dining, but some famous local spots remain and the area has nice options for grocery stores and food shopping as well. For pizza, try Pizzeria Montecarlo at Vicolo Savelli 13. You will also find a few really cool vintage shops along Via del Governo Vecchio, that will make you feel as if you are in a Fellini film, like Ciao Vintage at Via del Governo Vecchio 71. You can still find some antique and artisans shops in the nearby area between the streets of Via dei Coronari and Via dei Banchi Nuovi.
Campo de’ Fiori
The area of Campo de’ Fiori extends around the piazza of its name to the Tiber River at Ponte Sisto and toward the Jewish Ghetto to the east. Its name means “Field of Flowers” as amid the population decline of the Middle Ages in Rome, the place had become a meadow where sheep would graze. The area is also especially famous in Roman history as the spot where Julius Caesar was murdered by the Senate, at Teatro Pompey, adjacent to the campo. To the other side of the campo, you will find the gracious and elegant Piazza Farnese, one of our favorite spots for a coffee, gazing at the beautiful Michelangelo-designed façade of the palazzo that today houses the French Embassy.
At night Campo de’ Fiori becomes a party spot for Roman teens and international students in the city, and can be quite loud and rowdy. While we do not recommend staying directly near the campo for this reason, there are some lovely streets in the adjacent areas that are among our favorite spots in the city. In particular, we Via Giulia and the small streets extending around it are one of our top picks for a spot to stay in Rome. This elegant Renaissance street is lined with majestic palazzos from the most powerful families of Rome, many now transformed into small boutique hotels or b&b’s. It parallels the Tiber river, and is perfect for walking across the Bridge of Angels, or really walking to most sites within the city.
The area directly consisting of the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica is Vatican City, which is its own sovereign state, and so the areas around Vatican City, to the north, known as Borgo Pio, or to the east, known as Prati, are the areas where it is possible to stay within the vicinity of these sites. Because of the high numbers of travelers arriving for Vatican activities, Borgo Pio has many reasonable options for hotels and lodging, and the small working class neighborhood of Prati contains some affordable hotels as well. In general, this area is not convenient for visiting the historical center, but can be a nice option for those traveling on a budget.
Prati in particular is known among Romans for some nice local places to eat that are less touristy and less expensive. Try Sorpasso, at Via Properzio 31, popular with the locals for a meal or an aperitivo, and only 10 minutes walk from St. Peter’s Square.
The Spanish Steps lie at the northern point of the centro storico in the zone also referred to as Tridente, consisting of the areas between Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps, extending from the streets of Via di Ripetta, Via del Corso, and Via del Babuino. This is the most upscale area to stay in Rome, where you will find the expensive boutique hotels and designer shops lining the streets around Via Condotti.
The area is most famous for shopping, of course, and for the site of the Spanish Steps, which is filled during the day with tourists capturing the iconic photo of themselves on the steps. Next to the Spanish Steps is the lesser known Keats Shelley House, a small museum dedicated to the Romantic poets so enamored by the beauty of Rome. As part of this legacy, next door to the museum you will find Babbington’s tea room, founded in 1893 and famous to this day for high tea. We also love the Café Atelier Canova Tadolini for afternoon coffee or tea, or even an aperitivo, at Via del Babuino 150 – it is a café set within the 19th-century workshop of sculptures Canova and Tadolini. It seems as if time has stopped as in the café you are seated among the remains of the workshop almost as they were left.
The name “Trastevere” means “across the Tiber” and refers to the neighborhood across from the Ponte Sisto and next to the Vatican, centered around the churches of Santa Cecilia and Santa Maria. While it is not the most central location to stay in, it is known as one of the most local areas of Rome as it is still populated in large part by locals. Because of this, it is also a famous area for eating authentic Roman cuisine, and typically considered to be a place where you can eat more cheaply than in the heavy tourist areas of the historical center.
Trastevere also has one of our favorite bakeries for pizza by the slice (“a taglio”) at Renella (Via del Moro 15) – try the pizza with fontina cheese, potatoes, and rosemary. Trattoria da Enzo is a famous local place in Trastevere for Roman cuisine, at Vascellari 29. Here you can also find delicious ancient Roman specialties such as fried artichokes and zucchini flowers. If you are gluten free, Mama Eat in Trastevere at Via di San Cosimato 7/9 is one of the best gluten free restaurants in Italy, with an entirely gluten free menu and dedicated kitchen.
Although it is not possible to walk as easily from here to the main sites, Trastevere is well connected by the tram that goes to Piazza Venezia.