What to do & where to eat in Rione Monti: Save this list for your foodie experience
Monti district, also known as la Suburra, is one of the most fascinating quarters of Rome. Preferred destination for the Happy-hour tribe, this quarter lived an incredible life through centuries and deserves a visit.The Rione n° 1 , Monti, is a foodie destination. Offering several restaurants serving traditional roman food as well as fusion, ethnic foods, pizza and the biggest number of organic oriented shops. No matter if summer or winter, the area is lively at night, while, during the day is full of shops, vintage stores, and artisans studios.
Where to drink in Monti district.
What to eat in Monti? Two of the best gelato shops in Rome are located here: Fatamorgana and Grezzo. With the incredible roman temperatures of the summer, is always better to know where to take some refreshment. Gelato during the day is definitely a great choice, but at sunset an amazing Aperol spritz or a glass of wine, or a beer why not could be a social must. Here you can find the amazing Ai tre scalini, a lovely place that serve food and drinks. That is always busy, but if you’re not in a hurry you can relax outside with your first glass of wine and wait your turn to be seated.
Vino al vino is another of our favourites, here no frills, just wine and few appetizers, but a real local atmosphere.
For wine and food stop at the Fafiuchè, good wines and quality are guaranteed. Drinks and cocktails in a unusual place visit the Blackmarket hall is a as well as the Drink Kong.
Where to eat in Monti district.
For a good pasta dish, there is a little place named Al42 Pasta chef where to taste your carbonara and cacio e pepe, gricia, amatriciana and all the other delicious courses it in a very casual style. For a classic restaurant Le Tavernelle. On via Baccina there is a nice market too: Mercato rionale, for your grocery shopping.
For Pizza lovers this district is a Must.
Here you can find the biggest variety for pizza styles. From the napolitan fried one at Ce stamo a Pensà to the classic pizzetta at Trieste, to the tiella Gaetana at Mizio, and the classic Romana style at the Boccaccia.
Japanese, Indian, chinese, Hawaian, Irish pubs, Piadineria, surely you will not die for hunger in this district…
A little bit of history about Monti district
Did you know Caio Giulio Cesare was born in Monti district, at the time called Suburra, on the 12 July 100 BC?
Descending from an important family, the gens Iulia, not wealthy though. The story of Caesar, therefore, begins in this suburb of Rome full of insulae, the ancient Roman council houses, built in wood. He found the way to directly face the dictator Silla, supporting the people’s party. Giulio Cesare is gifted with a certain pragmatism and luck. From a modest house to the edge of the world: military tribune in 72, quaestor in 69, magistrate in 65. Cesare left the Suburra only in 63, when he was appointed pontiff maximum, moving to the domus publica, in the Roman forum. His career up to the bloody killing in Pompeo‘s theatre on the ides of March 44, will be an unstoppable rise.
The ruins of the tall wall that divides Monti from the forum are still there. The wall had been erected to defend the noble part of the city, to stop the fury of the flames that often flared up in the Suburra. The insulae were built abundantly with wood and fires were frequently broking out indeed. But 64 A.D. in the night between 18 and 19 July the flames burst from the northern side of the Circus Maximus. That is the biggest fire in history, burning 1/3 of the city of Rome.
After the martyrdom of Peter and Paul, surrounded by his enemies in 68 AD, Nero kills himself. Together with Nero, the Julio-Claudian dynasty, that of Augustus, ends.
The Flavian dynasty begins while in Rome the civil war for the succession to power.
Vespasian comes victorious and he starts to restyle the area with grandiose architectural projects, including the Flavian amphitheatre. The largest stadium of the antiquity, that we know as the Colosseum, was erected in record time.
But the one to give a new life to the Suburra will be the Emperor Traiano.
The Trajan’s forum is the largest of all the forums, raising adjacent to the administrative and commercial offices. Not far away, on the remains of Nero’s domus aurea, Trajan builds the largest thermal building in the world.
The area of Monti district, therefore, begins to enjoy the popularity of a “gentrified” district.
After the Edict of Constantine everything changes.
With the division of the Empire, the excessive power of the army, corruption, Rome begins its decline. Conventionally, the deposition of Romulus Augustulus from the throne by the barbarian Odoacer marks the end of the Western Roman Empire and the beginning of the Middle Ages.
This is the time when the district changes its name from Suburra to Monti. Due to the fact that the district includes three of the hills of Rome Esquilino, Viminale and Quirinale. After the invasions and the interruption of the outdoor aqueducts, life in Monti quarter turns hard. The main reason why Monti resisted is due to the role of the important churches that are located in the area: San Giovanni in Laterano, Santa Maria Maggiore, San Pietro in Vincoli and many others.
Illustrious visitors, aristocrats, and plebeians loving the Suburra.
Back to the ancient times.
The streets of the Suburra travelled by a multitude of people from various social backgrounds. Poor and rich,aristocrats and plebeians, for one reason or another, strolled the neighbourhood in search of something.
The area, in fact, was dotted with shops, artisans, booksellers and even brothels.
It would not have been difficult to find Cicero, Orazio and Seneca in the area, looking for books to buy or publishers to get published.
The wife of Emperor Claudius, Messalina, apparently went there in incognito, disguised as a prostitute for personal pleasure, not need for sure.
The Emperor Nero apparently wandered around the Suburra disguised as a plebeian to eavesdrop on the people hidden in the crowd.
Back to the Renaissance time.
During the renaissance time, Monti district will be the place to be for may artitst, including Michelangelo Buonarroti. Unfortunately, his house-studio is not existing anymore, lost in the restyling of the area at the beginning of the 19th century. Anyway from his studio the great Michelangelo sculpted the imposing Moses for the Tomb of the Pope Giulio II. You will find in San Pietro in Vincoli.
Another family of artists will choose Monti district to settle their bottega: the Bernini’s.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini created here some of its masterpieces such as the Ratto di Proserpina, the David, Apollo and Dafne. Those marvellous works are displayed in the not far Galleria Borghese.
The controversial Borgia family also frequented the district.
Especially the palace where Vannozza lived, lover of Pope Rodrigo Borgia and mother of his three children, Giovanni, Lucrezia and Cesare. Right on the part that connects Monti to the opium hill, with the Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli. The staircase takes the name of Salita dei Borgia – the Borgia’s cliff and rises on the vicus Sceleratus – road of madness. Here, ceenturies before, the youngest daughter of Servio Tullio had killed her father. Hitting him several times with her chariot. Parricides at the time were one of the worst crimes and the Romans remebers this in the name of the place.
Monti district is so popular for Cinema’s lovers.
One of the most famous citizens was the Marquis del Grillo is one of the best-known characters. Immortalized in the famous film of the same name by Mario Monicelli. an important Italian director, much loved by the public, who lived in Monti until his tragic death.
In the movie the excellent Italian actor Alberto Sordi plays the role of the Marquis (and not only). The film sets in during the Napoleonic occupation, while the real Marquis del Grillo lived a few centuries earlier. However, this fictionalized story brings us back to a Rome of the past that deserves to be remembered.
A Unique nature
The natives of Monti still consider themselves, a little unique compared to others. At one time the inhabitants of the neighbourhood spoke, even a different and recognizable dialect. In eternal competition with Trastevere district, they seem to have an eternal regret for the good old days. The neighbourhood has in fact changed a lot from the 1960s to today. Many of the artisan shops are not anymore, new bistros and aperitif bars replacing the old bars or grocery stores. The vicinity lifestyle has changed dramatically so many inhabitants left. Surely enticed by the growing value of the real estate market. Monti is, indeed, one of the most expensive areas of Rome.
When to go
All year around Monti area is busy, especially at sunset. This is one of the preferred areas to enjoy the Happy hour ritual. In the daytime, there are amazing churches to visit. For shopping lovers, hundreds of shops for bargains and unique vintage stuff. On Sundays (except August) visit the weekly artisan Market close to via Leonina 46.
The night of San Giovanni (29th June) is obviously one of the most important popular festival nights in the district. Saint John is, indeed, the protector of the area. Traditionally on this day you can eat snails. Snails wee loved by the ancient Romans, especially when seasoned with abundant garum, the obsession sauce of the time.
In October is the place to be. In fact, Monti area still celebrate a a local festival with shows, music and stands called “Ottobrata Romana”. October is the best month to visit Rome.
How to reach it
If you are close to a subway station, the quickest way to arrive at Monti is to take the B line (the blue one) stopping at Cavour. Otherwise from termini station, outside the Bus stall you can take Bus 75 (3 stops) or bus 64, 40 for a couple of stops.
Would you like to visit this area and eat like a local one?
Book our Pizza street food tour or write an email to Daniela at love@ gourmetaly.com.
Daniela is a local foodie and insider, she studied International Politics and History and she is the founder of Gourmetaly.com.