On a brief visit, it is easy to miss the fact that Rome is a city of neighborhoods, and some of its greatest charms lie in the less touristy districts. (On a Rome Untour you have time to explore these areas or can even stay in them for a week or more.)
Meet a couple of our favorite Roman neighborhoods.
Testaccio is a very “Roman” quarter of the city, a favorite neighborhood of locals with excellent shopping, pleasant strolling, fantastic restaurants and cafes, and even nightlife. It merges some of the city’s old world charm with a very contemporary sensibility and energy.
Here you will find the Cestia Pyramid, an unexpected spectacle in the heart of a humming area. This marble and brick tomb was constructed around 18–12 BC for Gaius Cestius, a VIP of ancient Rome. Egypt was in vogue then, and it was around the same time that obelisks started appearing around the city.
Nearby you can also see Porta San Paolo and the Protestant Cemetery, along with some lesser known museums.
One of our favorites is the Centrale Montemartini, an archeological museum filled with sculpture from ancient Greece and Rome. The museum is set in a reclaimed power plant, to dramatic architectural effect.
Testaccio is a neighborhood for foodies. It is home to the juggernaut Eataly (its original location), a mecca for all manner of local food and drink, dwarfing all other food halls. Enjoy a bite at a lunch counter. Shop for ingredients and edible souvenirs. Taste local wines and beers. Graze your way through.
The Testaccio Market is another popular destination for epicureans, with the freshest of produce, local cheeses and top quality natural meats, and a wide variety of street food. It supplies many of the local restaurants and offers fantastic people watching.
From the neighborhood you can easily reach many of the major sights of Roman antiquity: the Colosseum, the Circus Maximus, the Imperial Forum, the Temple of Vesta, and the Bocca della Verita. You can reach Tiber Island on foot, and have easy access to the modern Ostiense district, a center of Roman street art.
The Aventino neighborhood, very nearby, is one of the most elegant areas of the city, built on one of the seven hills on which Rome was founded. It is a desirable residential area, with parks and greenery.
The beautiful sights in the area include the monumental complex of the Basilica of Sant’Alessio, the Basilica of Santa Sabina, and Santa Prisca church. You will want to spend a little time exploring these dazzling art-filled churches.
Don’t miss the municipal rose garden and the Giardino degli Aranci, a beautiful and fragrant orange grove garden that offers a splendid view of the city. Its formal layout and peaceful birdsong form a perfect oasis inside a busy city.
While you are exploring the area, take a peek through the keyhole at Villa del Priorato di Malta. You will get a majestic and unique glimpse of St. Peter’s iconic dome and can snap a special photo.
Whether you stay here or just visit on your next pass through Rome, don’t miss these colorful, purely Roman neighborhoods.