The Monti district is one of Rome’s oldest neighborhoods, and with its mix of tradition and originality, it’s an ideal spot to go for a relaxing walk and sample the delights of fine art, high fashion, and good food. It lies within easy reach of many of Rome’s main attractions, including the majestic Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, the imposing Colosseum, and the statue of Moses in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli. But the best way to see this authentic, yet trendy area is to wander without a map. Only then can you be truly amazed at the sudden glimpses of the Forum or blindly find yourself in the middle of a courtyard surrounded by walls lined with climbing plants. The best experience is to simply let this bubbling district’s creativity really wash over you.
Let curiosity be your guide and you will discover a blend of old shop signs, colored walls, and workshops of ideas, where retro elements stand alongside the best of modern taste. Among the ateliers, where modern art is king, and the shops selling the most innovative designs, you will also find the church of Madonna dei Monti, a gem of renaissance architecture. Walk inside and enjoy a moment’s respite from the chaos of Via dei Serpenti, stopping to admire Giacomo della Porta’s altar and the fresco of the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus. In the mid-16th century, a group of workmen stumbled upon the latter while dismantling a hayloft. The story of their discovery soon spread and was considered so extraordinary that many people treated it as a shrine and prayed for miracles.
Above all, the Monti district is famous for its shopping, which should come at no surprise, given that everything here shouts style and individuality. Discover your own style in one of the many stores offering unique items with designs that nod to the past. Le Gallinelle, with its unplastered walls, wooden beams, and antique mirrors, creates a welcoming atmosphere, both shabby and chic. The store specializes in imaginative pieces for men and women, and also offers a selection of vintage clothes. At Sufir, in Via Boschetto, you can browse the collection, created by a group of young designers, against the background hum of sewing machines. How many times have you seen a suit created from scratch before your own eyes? Sufir does not conform to the dictates of the fashion world, but places a high level of importance on the cloth itself, made in Italy, which is created from unusual materials, like lino or acetate. To finish off your handmade outfit, you need the perfect craft accessory. At Neò, the artisans work neoprene rubber with knitting and crochet needles to create necklaces and bags with complex and playful textures. And you thought neoprene was just for scuba divers!
Walking up and down the cobbled streets, you will work up an appetite, but thankfully, there’s something for everyone in this district, from bakeries to wine bars. But when the sun’s out, it’s best to grab something to take away, so you can find yourself a place to sit near the fountain in Piazza della Madonna dei Monti and relax in the warm breeze. One of the best places to go for a quick snack is Zia Rosetta, a small sandwich shop serving traditional Roman rolls with original fillings that even come in mini versions. And if you have a sweet tooth, there is nowhere better than Ciuri Ciuri to try delicious Sicilian specialties like the cannoli or cassata—and don’t miss their wonderful pistachio ice cream.
When you take a walk around this district of contrasts, you rub shoulders with trendy designers and genuine Roman ladies, with civil servants from the nearby offices and tourists. You will feel your batteries charging with inspiration. And, who knows? You may even get in touch with your own inner creative side.