Magic made in Monti
A walking tour with Mara, and the chance to savor the flavor of Rome's Monti district
Within steps of the Coliseum, Monti is one of the most magical of all the districts in Rome. This lively little labyrinth of lanes, is lined with any number of fantastic restaurants and bars and is home to one of the best markets in the whole of the Italian capital.
Snippets of history
In ancient times, Monti was divided into the area on the higher ground, which was inhabited by wealthy aristocrats, and the poorer area known as 'Suburra'. The district became particularly prosperous under the rule of Augustus, when the emperor divided Rome into 16 regions and assigned Monti the Imperial forum, the Baths of Titus and Trajan and the Oppio hill.
Monti maintained its importance right up until 1874, when it lost part of its territory to the neighboring Esquilino. Despite this loss of land, the population of Monti continued to grow.
Since the 19th century, Monti has hosted the Festa di San Giovanni, which includes great feasts of snails and a candlelit procession to San Giovanni in Laterano.
photo by RomeLand
Roaming the Rione
One of the most striking things about this "rione", or district, is the contrast between the higher section, characterized by great wide streets and imposing palazzi, extending from the Viminale to Santa Maria Maggiore; and the lower section, comprised of a maze of narrow little lanes and alleyways. It's this picturesque muddle of medieval, renaissance and modern day Rome which has gradually evolved into the one of the liveliest areas of the Italian capital.
A tour of this part of Rome might easily begin in Via Cavour and continue along Via Panisperna (the name of which is thought to derive from the Latin "panis et perna" or 'bread' and 'prosciutto') or Via dei Serpenti, the street once known as Corso dei Monti and which leads right into the heart of the district of Monti.
Both streets will take you to Piazza della Madonna dei Monti, the pulsating heart of the district and which, as night begins to fall, transforms into the meeting place of the local youths.
From the square, make your way along the picturesque Via del Boschetto and Via degli Zingari, both of which are guaranteed to make you wish you too could live in Rome.
Eating in Monti
The best time to visit this part of Rome is dinner time! Not only is Monti home to a host of excellent pizzerias and trattorias, like Cuoco & Camicia, where everything, from the bread to the desserts are homemade, and Urbana47, which serves delicious contemporary versions of traditional Italian dishes (make sure you try the spaghetti ai due caci e pepe): this district boasts some of the best Indian restaurants in the Italian capital too.
Great Indian restaurants like Sitar, in Via Cavour, where the service is as friendly as the food is fantastic, or Mother India, in Via dei Serpenti, which does a mean chicken tandoori. The portions may be smaller and the prices higher, but if you want to experience the best samosa in the city, you've got to go to Il Guru, in Via Cimarra.
If you fancy eating something other than pasta and pizza, but curry and tandoori are not your thing, pop into the Daruma Sushi Bar in the main square, or Doozo, in Via Nazionale, which as well as serving excellent Japanese cuisine, organizes a series of interesting Japanese-orientated events and exhibitions.
Big spender? Book a table at the exquisitely expensive Crostaceria Ipanema, which specializes in seafood, fish and crustaceans.
Sunday at the market
S is for Sunday and Shopping at the Mercato Monti. Every Sunday, the market, on Via Leonina, attracts crowds of local, and not-so-local, lovers of vintage clothing, art and accessories to the district of Monti.
You'll find everything from antique silverware to designer handbags in this "urban market", which provides the perfect hunting ground for anyone searching for a unique souvenir of the Eternal city.
Our Insider is Mara
A budding journalist, born in Rome on 29 November 1986, Mara is well on her way to transforming her passion for writing into her profession.
Fueled by her love of words and travel, in 2011, together with her friend Stefano, she created Mind the Trip.
There's nothing Mara enjoys more than scouting the bookshops for the latest travel guides, packing her suitcase, and setting off for another unforgettable adventure...
Could you be our next Insider? Share your love of Italy by contributing to ItalyTraveller! See how!
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