What if we told you that at the very heart of Rome’s chaotic streets and frenetic energy lies a bohemian neighborhood with a more serene buzz in the air? Within a 15-minute walk of the Colosseum, the district of Monti is a residential community with an up-and-coming artist scene and some of the city’s most local hangouts. Here, time-worn trattorias mix with modern mixology bars, and high-end shops abut vintage boutiques. At the very least, Monti’s streets are worth an afternoon —but give the neighborhood your full attention, and you may never want to leave. Here are our favorite spots to linger, shop, drink, and dine in Rome’s best-kept secret.
Monti’s central hub buzzes with life from the morning hours until post-dinner passeggiata. Neighborhood kids kick footballs around while their grandparents look on. Experience the square at its height during aperitivo hour: grab a drink at any of the surrounding bars and mix with the locals at a fountain-side seat.
Every weekend from September through June, a curated crew of emerging designers, artisans, and collectors set up for an urban market unlike anywhere else in the city. You won’t find cheap tchotchkes or ceramic Colosseums—souvenirs here come in the form of vintage accessories, handcrafted housewares, distinctive jewelry, and more.
In an Instagrammable ivy-covered building with an airy guesthouse upstairs, La Casetta (“the cottage”) is a petit cafe where owner Domenico serves homemade pastries and aromatic coffee. For breakfast, make like an Italian with a cappuccino and cornetto, or settle in for a more American-style plate with eggs.
Part home gardening shop, part slow-food eatery, Aromaticus makes a charming lunch stop in an urban farmhouse setting. The menu ranges from light Italian salads to Mediterranean staples (try the panzanella bread salad with anchovies), served with organic wines and pressed juices.
Spread across two storefronts, LOL is a high-end boutique stocking stylish Italian fashions and modern European womenswear. Many pieces are small-run or one-of-a-kind, with gleaming racks sorted by color. Don’t miss the artisan shoe collection or delicate lingerie displays.
With antique decor and beautifully stocked bar, Sacripante melds art gallery and cocktail haunt inside a former convent. The peaceful space hosts rotating shows, with the occasional reading or DJ set. Be patient when it comes to drinks; cocktails are carefully concocted to mirror the theme of slowing down.
Surrounded by Monti’s many vintage shops (also not to be missed), Kokoro is a women’s “clothing laboratory” selling a well-priced selection of original designs in rich Italian textiles. See a style you like but prefer a different fabric? The in-house designers will whip one up in the material of your choice. Prices are color coded, and tailoring is also available.
Italian fare doesn’t get more authentic than when served from a 120-year-old wine bar. The strictly Italian wine list here boasts over 100 bottles across all budgets. For dinner, the restaurant’s Roman specialties include melanzane rollatini (battered eggplant rolled with ricotta and tomato sauce) and a traditional veal saltimbocca. Reservations are smart.
Rome certainly has no shortage of gelato shops, but those serving banana sesame or honey/chestnut/ginger flavors? There’s only one. Fatamorgana scoops up all-natural, seasonal flavors in inventive combos and sweet classics thought up by famed gelato maker Maria Agnese. Pick up her cookbook to make your own back home.
If you don’t end up in one of Monti’s many AirBnbs, Nerva Boutique Hotel is the neighborhood’s most charismatic and well-located spot. Mixing contemporary styling with historic Roman architecture, the hotel’s 19 rooms sit across the street from the ancient Imperial Forums.