At the ACCENT Rome Study Center, we always encourage the students to get out of their bubble and explore Rome beyond the most touristic spots. In a city as big as this, sometimes it is tempting to remain within the well-trodden neighborhoods surrounding the historical center, but you would be missing out on the real flavor of Rome, with all its beauty and surprises. Every neighborhood has its own unique character and atmosphere.
The origins of this diversity can be traced back to ancient times. The city has always been divided into administrative districts, or separated by social class. The boundaries and names reflect the urban history and expansion of Rome and are an interesting tool for reading the city. In the 1900s, each of the 22 different neighborhoods (or rioni) took their present shape. Each historical rione has a number and a coat of arms that usually features a symbol relating to the history of that part of town. For example, the symbol of the Testaccio neighborhood is an amphora, an ancient Roman jar used to transport goods, reminding us that the area was the first location of the Ancient port of Rome.
In the past, there was a strong sense of belonging and pride for the rione, as the district was the place where people would spend most of their lives. With increased mobility and greater ease of travel, however, that attitude has begun to fade.
The city has never stopped expanding, and to the 22 historical rioni were added new neighborhoods and new stories.
So where to start exploring? We’ve asked the ACCENT Rome team to suggest their personal favorites.
Monti is located on the hill above the Colosseum and Forum and still has a local vibe. In Ancient Rome this area was called “Suburra” and was a rough, poor neighborhood – difficult to imagine nowadays! It’s the perfect place to take a stroll through its hilly cobble-stone alleys, do some vintage shopping, and meet with friends at the fountain in the piazza as locals do.
The most multicultural neighborhood of Rome. Don’t miss the incredible covered market where you can find ingredients and products from all over the world. All languages and cultures are represented among its stalls! You will notice that the neighborhood’s achitecture resembles the city of Turin. This is because after the unification of Italy, the area was where wealthier classes lived, and they copied the style of Italy’s first capital.
Compared to the rest of the city, Garbatella is very young. It was built in the 1920s for working class families, based on the ideal of the British Garden City. If you take a stroll through the neighborhood, it looks frozen in time! It’s very quiet, even though it lies between two busy arteries of the city. The only time it’s noisy is when the AS Roma soccer team is playing, as Garbatella is full of Roma fans. It is also a foodie’s paradise, with very convenient prices. A must-try? Saltimbocca, bite-size pieces of veal wrapped in prosciutto and sage!
To visit this neighborhood, you will need to hop on a tram or bus and head north. But the short trip will definitely be worth it, there is nothing like Coppedè. The mix of architectural styles and influences– including Medieval, Ancient Greek, Art Nouveau, and Baroque– blend together to create a fairytale district.~ACCENT Rome Team
Did this post inspire you to visit Rome and discover your favorite rione? Research your study abroad options at http://accentintl.com/find-a-program/.