Four Roman Neighborhoods to Experience Authentic Italian Life

“Blog Post Type: Cities Less Traveled”

The Eternal City of Rome is internationally recognized by millions. Known for tourist attractions such as Vatican City, The Colosseum, The Spanish Steps, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Trevi Fountain, Rome always ranks high on travelers’ must-see destinations. What about the lesser-known attractions and local hot spots in the districts that make up Rome? Here are four districts/neighborhoods that answer the question: Where do the locals go?


Photo by Irene Wamala via


Nomentano has many local businesses. This may not sound exciting, but it’s a wonderful opportunity for visitors to practice their Italian with the locals. Walk the well-known shopping streets of Via Nomentano, Via Salaria, and Via Regina Margherita and engage a local with a buongiorno (good morning/afternoon). This well-received gesture may lead to a local showing you the Villa Torlonia complex that was once home to Benito Mussolini. If turn-of-the-century nouveau architecture entices you, Quartiere Coppede is a small district nearby, home to eccentric buildings worthy of storytelling.


Once a working-class neighborhood populated by immigrants, Trastevere’s central part is now a hub for socializing and entertainment. Bars, wine houses, pubs, trattorias, and restaurants dominate the narrow streets. The northern part of the neighborhood has a lot of parkland and monuments depicting 19th-century Rome. The south section, rich with art, is quiet with old-style allure around every corner. The highlight for many visitors to Trastevere is touring the churches to see mosaics, with the Villa Farnesina and the Santa Cecilia being the most compelling.

Esquilino-San Giovanni

Named after Esquline Hill (Esquilino) and the Basilica (San Giovanni), these adjacent neighborhoods have an eclectic mix of native Italians and a sizeable Chinese and Indian immigrant community. Although there are many Chinese and Indian restaurants in the area, traditional trattorias serve authentic Italian seafood, pasta, and antipasto. These healthy dishes give plenty of fuel for touring the Museo della Liberazione — a museum dedicated to telling the story of liberating Rome from German occupying forces in WWII. The area also boasts a vast number of churches to explore that are rich in history.

Rome Sweet Rome

Photo by Artur Mantura via


Testaccio is the southernmost neighborhood in the heart of Rome. A 20-minute walk from Trastevere along the Tiber River, Testaccio doesn’t have many high-traffic tourist attractions making it a traveler’s delight. Visitors will experience authentic Italian living, and it’s home to an impressive food scene. Testaccio Market is one of Rome’s oldest markets housing food stalls offering fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, and bread. Generations of families have owned many stalls, and they take tremendous pride in their high-quality food. Immerse yourself in Testaccio and you won’t regret it.

Staying in the center of Rome allows for easy access to the Modern Center and surrounding neighborhoods by foot or public transportation. There are many hotels in Rome to choose from but The De La Ville Roma atop the Spanish Steps will start your historic visit in true Italian style. Like many monuments and buildings around Rome, The De La Ville Roma has a beautiful history and it’s a great place to start your Roman adventure.

About the Writer

Tony is a freelance travel writer and photographer, roller coaster enthusiast and self-proclaimed Sudoku master. He is based in the Midwest U.S. and blogs at The Walking Traveler. He is working with Hipmunk on their #HipmunkCityLove Project.

Feature Photo by Tom Cregan via

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