Unexpectedly for many tourists, Rome covers quite a large area which is divided into 22 districts. This city has a long unique history and, mind you, so does every district of Rome. Each one is varied due to the time of construction and, consequently, the atmosphere of the place. It’s recommended to explore the characteristics of the district you are going to stay in beforehand in order to plan your trip in the right way and have an idea what ambience is going to surround you, because Roman districts can be dramatically different. It’s especially important for the tourists who are going to visit Rome for the first time. Let us avoid any unnecessary surprises and make it smooth! So, here they are the pros and cons of every part of the city.
Campo Marzio and Ludovisi are the northern districts of the historical center. There are three main streets: Via di Ripetta, Via del Corso and Via del Babuino. Locals sometimes call this area “Tridente” because these streets start from Piazza del Popolo and look like a trident. The most recognizable sites are the Spanish Steps on Piazza di Spagna and the Villa Borghese.
The streets are quite wide and mostly pedestrian that makes this place ideal for walking around. Fortunately, many most significant tourist spots are located in the vicinity, so it’s also an advantage. Another good piece of news is that Campo Marzio is considered one of the safest districts in Rome.
Tridente isn’t the cheapest place and is targeted at wealthy visitors. There are lots of fashionable boutiques, exquisite restaurants and 5-star hotels. It’s a great place to stay if you only have a couple of days and want to see more.
These three central districts are the favorite touristic areas, where thousands of people run between cafes, shops and amazing spots for photos. The best attraction is Piazza Navona. However, consider to observe it from above and have a dinner on the Terrazza Borromini instead of getting through the crowds. Parione is famous for the outdoor food and its flower market. It is placed near Campo di’ Fiori. As for Pigna it’s famous for its streets, all of which will definitely bring you to the heart of Rome - the Pantheon.
On the one hand, less than in half an hour you can get everywhere from here on foot starting from the Vatican City and ending with the Colosseum. On the other hand, because of the excellent location the historical center is the most expensive and a densely populated place: if you somehow find a free table in a restaurant, you will pay a double price.
The quiet and cozy narrow streets of Ponte, Sant’Angelo and Regola connect the noisy historical center with the riverfront of the Tiber. They are truly underestimated, because there are lots of hidden restaurants and cafes with a wide range of cuisines from Italian pizzas to hummus and plenty of affordable apartments as well. Moreover, many locals live in these districts and that allows tourists experience the ordinary life of a Roman citizen. The developed infrastructure and the good location make this calm area a wonderful option for families to stay.
Trevi is a district, called in honor of the most famous fountain of Rome. Every tourist dreams about visiting this sight. Therefore, you can expect crowds visitors in the streets between the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. This area is also one of the most expensive ones due to its location, so you’d better step several quarters aside and pay two or even three times less. For instance, you can go north and reach another district which is called Colonna. It’s the political center of Rome, where the Parliament and the Prime Minister’s residence are located. Colonna offers a good choice of affordable hotels, but not during the important summits as all places become sold out.
Borgo and Prati are the north-west parts of the historical center which are separated by the river. They border with the Vatican City, which is surrounded by a high brick wall all around it. The major sights of this bank of the Tiber are St. Peter’s Basilica and Castel Sant’Angelo. In spite of the similar location, Borgo and Prati are significantly different. Borgo is a busy district with a lot of souvenir shops and loud tour guides, while Prati offers wide boulevards and many buildings in the “Art Nouveau” style. The modern hotels in these areas will be a great option, if you are going to spend a couple of days in the Vatican Museum.
Trastevere is a district to the south of Borgo. It has a unique atmosphere. The walls covered with ivy give a special romantic ambience to the place. The Italian colour is shown here at its best. Here you will find delicious cuisine, loud talks and Italian meetings in the cozy pavement cafes and restaurants. Trastevere is also a bohemian part of Rome with trendy bars and private parties. The best audience for this district is a tourist who visits the city of seven hills not for the first time and who likes the lively vibes with a truly Italian atmosphere. This area provides the balance between the price and the quality of goods and services, but it is situated just a bit further from the center as compared to the previously mentioned districts. This district is also full of sightseeing. Here you can find the oldest basilica in Rome - Santa Maria in Trastevere built in 221.
A district in the area of Piramide metro station is Testaccio. This place, like so many others in Rome, has its roots in the antique times and is famous for its unique artificial hill made of ancient crocks and, of course, for its Egyptian pyramid. In the 20th century this place became a working district, but today due to gentrification it has become a charming and vibrant area famous for its eateries and nightlife. Testaccio is known for its resemblance with Trastevere. However, it is less crowded and less expensive, which makes it a very friendly zone for tourists.
One of the areas of Rome in the south-east is Tuscolano. It is relatively far away from the center, but easy to visit via underground (Linea A, Colli Albani station). Due to the vicinity of the Appian Way, there are plenty of antique landmarks here, including the majestic aqueducts, which are still in use and provide water to the citizens who live in this area. Also, Tuscolano is full of fountains, ancient thermas and amphitheaters. Many people gather here to meet the sunset, and others do so walking on top of the aqueduct. The latter is an experience of a lifetime! If you have a chance, do not miss on an opportunity to visit Tuscolano!
Campitelli and Celio are the ancient center of Rome. Each building here has its own historical value. The legendary Colosseum and the enormous Roman Forum stand out among these quarters as they are surrounded by the different parks. Small gardens hide behind the turns, so this area is supposed to be the greenest one in the city. During the day the district is quite bustling because of tourists and street vendors. However, in the evening you can easily enjoy the absolute harmony due to the relaxing silence. Despite the romance of the evening walks, I won’t recommend Campitelli or Celio for tourists who get irritable and tired because of crowds and noise.
The district Eustuccio is better known as Termini owing to the central railway station of Rome. The surrounding quarters are always busy with travelers and local residents. However, many students lurk through the traffic in order to get to lectures as the university La Sapienza is situated nearby. It’s hard to say that Termini is a prosperous area. Still tourists may save some money since there are lots of cheap hotels and hostels around this neighborhood. Besides, Termini can be suitable if you have a short stopover. You can easily get to any Roman district and suburb by metro, or even travel to other cities by train.
Monti is the area north-east from the Colosseum. It is an extremely interesting and versatile place. The oldest high-ranking Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano stands side by side with the night clubs and bars. The traditional Roman architecture is contrasted by the boutiques of experimental local designers. By the way, the regular weekend vintage market Mercato Ponti is a must-place for every sharp dresser. The charming streets and the small gardens make Monti a lovely place for any tourist, while the vicinity to the Termini station helps to travel around the city.
Pigneto lies in the east of Rome and attracts all young people from miles around. It is a hipster’s district which is covered with graffiti. Even Pasolini wrote odes to this area, persuading every visitor to go around this working-class suburb at least once. Pigneto is the heart of Roman nightlife, where open-minded and creative people spend hours in bars and discuss urgent problems of humanity. The atmosphere of freedom encompasses all the streets. In Pigneto you can take a break from exploring the ancient Rome and plunge into the modern side of the city.