Beyond the historic centre: Six other parts of Rome you must visit

Travel News from Stuff - 25-09-2023

The name literally means “across the Tiber” – and in many ways Trastevere is a world away from Rome’s Centro Storico. With picturesque cobblestone streets lined with kerbside bars and restaurants, every picture you take here looks like a postcard of la dolce vita.

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Piazza di Santa Maria is the centre of the neighbourhood, with its gloriously baroque church and a fountain that acts as the local meeting place. Nearby Bar San Calisto is a sleepy coffee hang-out in the morning, pumping bar by night. And on Sundays, the place to be is Porta Portese, where clothes, shoes, jewellery, knick-knacks and more are on sale at a huge outdoor market.

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Street art rules in Ostiense, with building-sized murals everywhere, from the “wall of fame” featuring Barack Obama, Stevie Wonder, Spike Lee and more, to a striking eco-mural of a heron, created using pollution-eating paint.

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They blend their industrial past and arty present well here – at the museum, over 400 ancient sculptures are displayed against the machinery of the old power plant. And when it’s time to re-fuel there’s no shortage of options, from cute cat café , where you’ll share your breakfast or lunch with half-a-dozen furry friends, to the five-floor Italian food mecca that is .

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It’s hard to believe this neighbourhood abutting the Forum and the Colosseum, with its apricot and ochre-hued buildings draped in ivy and jasmine, used to be the down at heel red-light district. It’s now decidedly well-heeled, a vibrant area filled with vintage stores (, Pulp), popular eateries (, ) and buzzy bars (, Al Vino Al Vino).

The square where it’s hip to hang out is Piazza della Madonna dei Monti – during the day it’s a fine spot for dolce far niente (pleasant idleness), and as the sun sinks, and the evening passeggiata (a leisurely stroll with no particular place to go) begins, Monti comes alive as a night-time destination.

In the 1993 film Caro Diarioas writer/director Nanni Moretti rides around Rome on his Vespa, he says “My favourite neighbourhood above all is Garbatella.” It’s easy to see why.

It’s a quiet, residential pocket that was only established in 1920, and is filled with “lotti” – clusters of apartments built around lovely internal courtyards where you can wander and lose yourself in the village-like atmosphere.

In Piazza Bartolomeo Romano is Bar Foschi, a bar and café straight out of an old Italian film, with to-die-for biscotti (biscuits) and torte (cakes). Nearby is a huge mural by Italian duo Solo & Diamond, of the woman who gave the neighbourhood its name, tavern owner Clementina “Garbatella” Eusibi.

Testaccio is sometimes referred to as the heart of Rome – it’s also the meat and vegetables because this neighbourhood is a go-to spot for food. Locals and tourists flock to , a buzzing hub for fresh produce and prepared meals – hugely popular stall Mordi E Vai creates hearty Italian sandwiches filled with everything from meatballs to tripe.

Renowned restaurants such as and are here, but so is , the home of the modern Roman snack that is a crunchy triangular pizza pocket with mouth-watering fillings. The area is also home to a 36-metre Egyptian pyramid, the tomb of Roman magistrate Gaius Cestius.

They call Pigneto the Brooklyn of Rome. A hot-bed of left-wing activism in the 60s, these days the hipsters have moved in. Vestiges of the past remain – you can see a mural of maverick writer and film-maker Pier Paolo Pasolini on Via Fanfulla da Lodi and drink nearby at his favourite watering hole, .

On a stretch of Via del Pigneto christened the “isola pedonale”, a pedestrian-only area is packed with cafes, bars and restaurants, including feminist bookshop cafe and local favourite bar Cargo. Whether you’re sipping craft beers at Birra+ or flicking through the crates of vinyl at , Pigneto is Italian for coolsville.

There are a variety of flight options from New Zealand into Rome-Fiumicino International Airport with stops. The central city is around 30 minutes by train or 40 minutes by car or taxi.

Flying generates carbon emissions. To reduce your impact, consider other ways of travelling, amalgamate your trips, and when you need to fly, consider offsetting emissions.

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