a Roman secret between hills

Eduardo Do Valle

Vito Arcomano Alamystockphoto, Publicity, Alessandra Cardinale

Learn about the neighborhood of Monti, where the traditional Roman lifestyle meets the new airs of youth


Going to the Colosseum, making wishes at the Fontana di Trevi, and enjoying Italian food are can’t-miss activities for anyone visiting Rome. However, while the maxim goes “Do as the Romans do,” it’s worth setting aside some time to explore Monti, the first and largest of Rome’s 22 rioni (districts). Still not part of the tourist circuit, the neighborhood offers a good opportunity to emulate the city’s unmistakable lifestyle.



Monti itself is a witness to time. Its name is a reference to four of Rome’s seven hills located in its territory. Chosen by Trajan as the setting for his Imperial Forum, the neighborhood is also home to ancient structures open to visitation. Marginalized in the past, the rione was revitalized with the arrival of the new millennium, when independent entrepreneurs settled there.


On Via Panisperna, for example, the wine bar Ai Tre Scalini prioritizes brands from the region of Lazio, whose capital is Rome. On the same street, galleries like the Black Market and Sacripante display the work of artists from the area.


All this movement called the attention of Ornella Cicchetti when she arrived there, in 2006. Shortly after, she opened her own establishment, MercatoMonti. Located on Via Leonina, it has albums, vintage clothes and accessories, and hosts concerts by local artists. Notice: it only opens on weekends.


Ai Tre Scalini - Via Panisperna, 251  •  Black Market Monti - Via Panisperna, 101  •  Sacripante - Via Panisperna, 59  •  ?MercatoMonti - Via Leonina, 46



Also, keep an eye on the events schedule of the Detour, a cinema club on Via Urbana. There, by paying a small fee, you’ll have access to movies, exhibits, and workshops. The prices at the neighboring restaurants are reasonable as well: at La Vacca M’briaca, Italian classics go for less than €10; meanwhile, at Urbana 47, the menu has Mediterranean touches (oftentimes, they have live jazz music).


All over the city, the streets get packed in the late afternoon. In Monti, the sunset attracts young people to Piazza della Madonna dei Monti, a 16th-century fountain in the heart of the rione. Unlike other piazzas, the mix of languages gives space to a clear Italian dialect. Away from the lines at the classic attractions, between laughter and sips of local beers, Rome takes on new colors and airs of youth – and finally you can experience the city like a Roman.


Detour - Via Urbana, 107  •  Hosteria La Vacca M'briaca - Via Urbana, 29  •  Urbana 47 - Via Urbana, 47