Monti | a guide to an urban outpost in the midst of Rome

April 16, 2018

Monti is a bohemian quarter of Rome, tucked between the frantic Via Cavour and Via Nazionale, it is the city’s most alluring old neighbourhood.

Long before this area was enchanted with really good gourmet street food, creative and unique shops it was a busy inner-city district made to protect the Forum from the frequent fires and then it got inhabited by craftsmen, chancers and sex workers. Yet, today it is a mix of modernity and historical appeal, a place for prime real-estate, home to many creative people and to up-and-coming artisans. 

Young and trendy people mainly adorn the cobblestone streets of Monti and although the neighbourhood has been somewhat gentrified it managed to retain a bohemian demeanour. It is a place that still holds the street corners where grandmas would sit for immersed in conversation while overlooking the children playing in the streets. Here is a small and much less touristy neighbourhood, a one that has a focus on community and those that visit practically feel like they would move to Rome right away. This is our guide to Monti with touches a local experience. 

Starting your day the Monti way 

A beautiful ivy covered cafe in Monti neighborhood, Rome

Begin your day like a true local with a cappuccino in La Casetta a Monti, a charming ivy-covered house where you can enjoy a delicious breakfast and have a handmade dessert with your morning coffee, or try a local treat latte di mandorla- an almond based refreshment. Either way, you will definitely be in for a treat. At Antico Forno Serpenti, a modern cafe which offers traditional Italian delicacies, the ritual of a good heartwarming morning coffee comes with freshly made pastry. Try their flaky pastry filled with cinnamon covered apples, people rave about it. An afternoon special is their slice of pizza, stop by here and try some Roman pizza delicacies.

 The perfect aperitivo

People walking around Piazza della Madonna dei Monti, Rome

In order to experience and sense Rome in a truly authentic way, aperitivo is an unavoidable tradition that should not slip away.  

Ai Tre Scalini is a crowded place with a lot of soulful energy and a rough wooden bar that holds a wide range of wines and locally crafted beers, it is here you will find authenticity and a perfect spot for your afternoon aperitivo together with some delicious snacks. A comfortable place is never to be avoided in situations of intense city explorations and Civico 4 is just a place in which you can feel all the comfort of a charming place in which you can have a glass of a fine prosecco and relax while watching the people proceeding on the cobbled streets. A friendly staff and plenty of locals make an aperitivo here feel as if you are at home. Bar Monti is a special place that on Fridays and Saturdays brings you the pleasure of enjoying aperitivo, tasty nibbles with an atmosphere filled with live jazz music. On other days, you can amuse yourself with a wide range of drinks and a cool atmosphere filled with pleasant music.   

Fontana di Piazza della Madonna dei Monti calls on to all those that take pleasure in mingling around the local gathering spots. Young Romans as they are sprinkled around the piazza indulge in some street food delicacies be it day or night, but in the evening time, they’ll be sharing drinks while sitting on the marble steps. The fountain in the middle adorns this piazza all the while it serves as a perfect spot to relax in the sunlight and enjoy a cold, refreshing drink. 

Refuelling and refreshing food

Delicious appetizers served in a restaurant in Monti, Rome

There are so many places to enjoy a good meal when in Monti, that it is no surprise that visiting Monti once isn't really quite enough, however, if you have only a day anyone from the following selection will be a definite success. Zia Rosetta is what you would call a really hip place. Famous for its rose shaped rolls which can be made into 20 different delicious variations with various fillings at an offer. A golden crust with the softness of the dough and a rich filling inside make this a real treat. The space is rather small and with a pleasant decor, it is an ideal spot for a quick lunch.

If you are craving to experience traditional Italian food that is good, fresh and served on a checked tablecloth with the friendliest service, then the authentic trattoria La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali is a must-visit! Make sure you reserve beforehand and try their renowned fresh pasta dishes. Away from the traditional Italian dishes is a sushi place that is worth a try, especially if you are looking for a change of cuisine. Temakinho is a restaurant which blends Japanese and Brazilian cuisine which can offer creative and delicious menu and an always friendly personnel. Maharaja is also another exotic option, a northern Indian restaurant in the centre of Monti, where you can indulge in many specialities composed of vegetarian and non-vegetarian ingredients and the finest Italian wine to accompany your meal.      

Drinking wine and having food go hand in hand in Italy, and so no wonder that a wine bar such as La Barrique adorns its long wine list with delicious and original dishes. If what you are seeking is good hearty food together with fine wine this is a place!  

Sightseeing in Monti 

The stairs of Scalinata dei Borgi, Rome
Scalinata dei Borgia

After the substantial amount of indulgence in food and drinks, you may want to take a stroll down the charming narrow streets of Monti and explore cultural and historical spots. A prime example of Europe Baroque architecture and a church built to accommodate a painting which is quite unusual is the Church of Santa Maria ai Monti. The church from the inside is adorned with lavishing frescos of the four Evangelists on the dome painted by Cristoforo Casolani together with an astounding painting at the altar, the painting representing the Virgin Mary with a child and Saints. Palazzo delle Esposizioni stands for the largest interdisciplinary exhibition and cultural centre of Rome. It's worth paying it a visit due to its up-to-date cultural display inside and its marvellous neoclassical architecture outside. Read here about the current exhibitions. While sauntering around these sites, make sure you also pass and have a glare at Scalinata dei Borgia, one of the most vivid and majestic places in Rome, a stairway leading through a passage of a building that is covered with lush ivy.  

Head down to Piazza degli Zingari also known as the gipsy square, a place with the charm of past times and delightfully quiet. It has a resemblance to a southern Italian place with its vibrant plants, which makes it a great place to make a stop, relax and unwind for a little while. One of the things you simply must try before going on any further into your Monti adventure is an homemade ice cream at Fatamorgana. This place is fantastic because not only does it offer the best original ice cream flavours but also a very wide range of unique and creative flavours such as pear and gorgonzola, ginger and pineapple… Creamy and rich are most of the ice creams here, and those lighter versions in a form of sorbet are as equally delicious. Grezzo Raw Chocolate is another interesting fusion of traditional and modern, having its focus placed on chocolate and all the little chocolate treats for a true indulgence, about which you can read more on here.

Shopping time

Inside of a chic clothing store in Monti, Rome

It's a real pity to miss out on the up-and-coming artisanal shops with handmade products and young designer’s boutiques that have bloomed in the Monti neighbourhood. Mercato Monti is a marketplace open on Sundays, showcasing young designers that create unique pieces with a touch of vintage feel. It's also a place where you can find various vintage items all the while enjoying a vibrant atmosphere while the DJ spins the records in the corner. Pifebo is a boutique to come to if looking for vintage shoes, bags, belts, dresses, hats and above all leather garments- their secret gems. Fancy having something tailor-made just for you? Head out to Tina Sondergaard for superb and somewhat mischievous designs which are all handcrafted and can be tailored specifically to your taste. Among the finer choices is a designer boutique LOL, a trendy concept store with a very bright and pleasant interior and a collection of Italian brands as well as some independent international names, making it an ultimate shopping experience for women of all ages. Not to be missed is a perfume boutique Alè Parfums, which holds a kingdom of scents all coming from the finest perfumers in the world, about whose story you can find out on here

Nightlife in Monti 

Charming and narrow cobble street of Monti, Rome

The true energy of the city comes out at night and it has a very authentic note in the Monti area. Chattering groups of people surround the area making their way to tiny bars and restaurants around. Black Market is a place that gathers those who enjoy live music, cocktails and the atmosphere of the 1920s. Dim lighting and bold colours of vintage furniture and wall decor, which embellish the space make up an array perfect for a nightly entertainment. With a menu that offers plenty of guilty-pleasure treats and a dynamic selection of live music bands, this is a place that guarantees a night to remember. And only a few blocks away is a sister venue BlackMarket Hall, similar in style to the Black Market but with an addition of separate rooms, each different in its theme and design. An extensive list of drinks together with a good choice of burgers as well as vegan burger options and different fish dishes makes this a delightful night out, especially because it all goes together with a band of live music.    

Interior of BlackMarket Hall bar

 

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