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More Districts In Rome, Italy That You Should Visit

There are 22 districts in Rome, Italy and each of these are unique and interesting. This second half of the list will show you why you need to visit each one.

districts in rome italy - the pyramid

The Pyramid In Testaccio

As mentioned in the first part of this series on the Districts of Rome, that Rome is made up of 22 districts (rioni), but this was not always the case. In the sixth century B.C. there were only 4 regions that surrounded the historical center (centro storico). As the city expanded and more people moved to Rome, this grew to 14 districts under Augustus but then collapsed after the fall of the Roman Empire. In the 12th century, 12 subdivisions were created and continued to grow until reaching the twenty two rioni that Rome has today.

Each of these districts is diverse and interesting, each with its own neighborhoods and attractions which I will encourage everyone to visit to get a real sense of the diversity of Rome. These 22 districts are: Monti, Trevi, Colonna, Campo Marzio, Ponte, Parione, Regola, Sant’Eustachio, Pigna, Campitelli, Sant’Angelo, Ripa, Trastevere, Borgo, Esquilino, Ludovisi, Sallustiano, Castro Pretorio, Celio, Testaccio, San Saba, Prati.

The first half of these districts was covered in Part 1, so here is Part II:

The Districts In Rome, Italy (Part 2)

Ripa – District XII

districts in rome italy - Keyhole Looking At Vatican City

Three Countries at Once

Ripa has some really interesting sites, but I’m going to start with my only major disappointment in Rome, Circus Maximus. Many years ago on a second trip to Rome we searched for hours, before Google Maps, to find what appeared in different renderings to be a full chariot track. Imagine my surprise and disappointment to find what is basically an oval shaped grass field. However, it is important for one thing. Because it is such a large open space, it is the location for concerts, protests, road races and all kinds of celebrations, so I’m glad I know where it is.

Two of my favorite spots in Ripa are the beautiful orange garden (Giardino degli Aranci) on Aventine Hill, which is a well maintained space with a path running from the street to the west end of the park and has a walled terrace with an amazing view of the Tiber and the City in all directions. The birds love this park and if you are paying close enough attention, you might actually see the green parakeets, which seem strangely out of place in Rome.

Not far from the Giardino degli Aranci in the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta is the Villa of the Sovereign Order of Malta. Because this is a sovereign building, it is considered part of Malta, like an embassy of another country. When you approach the door, you will need to look through it at the level of the keyhole for best viewing. When you are there, you will see a dark hole with a light on the other side of it. You are looking at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. The keyhole perfectly frames the garden, the surrounding city and the dome. The other interesting part is that at one time you are simultaneously looking at three different countries, Rome, Malta and Vatican City.

Trastevere – District XIII

While this used to be home to the artist community, it is now one of the most desirable and expensive parts of Rome. There is a lot to do in Trastevere, including wandering around, going into shops and eating at any of the fantastic restaurants on the tiny side-streets with its narrow cobbled streets lined by ancient houses.

One of my favorite things to do in Trastevere is to climb up Janiculum Hill and see La Fontana dell’Acqua Paola. If you are planning on visiting this fountain, don’t confuse it with La Fontana dell’Acqua Paola in Piazza Trilussa. The fountain in Trilussa is quite a bit smaller, not nearly as impressive and is more of a hangout for college students. The better fountain on via Garibaldi is worth the hike and might be familiar to you if you saw The Great Beauty by Paolo Sorrentino (La Grande Bellezza).

Borgo – District XIV

This district is mostly focused on the Vatican, although obviously part of Rome and not Vatican City.

districts in rome italy - Angels Guarding the Bridge

Angels Guarding the Bridge

Crossing the Tiber on the beautifully statue lined Ponte Sant’Angelo, you stare at the imposing Castel Sant’Angelo, but before you get there you need to stop and notice the ten statues of angels by various artists. My favorite is Angel with the Garment and Dice because you don’t usually combine angels and dice.

The Castel Sant’Angelo more recently was used by the popes as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum. The structure was once the tallest building in Rome. It also is connected to St Peter’s Basilica by a covered fortified corridor called the Passetto di Borgo. The idea here was if the Pope needed to flee the Basilica, he would be safer in this castle.

Esquilino – District XV

The most important thing in Esquilino for any traveler to know is that it is the home of the Roma Termini railway station.

districts in rome italy - Termini Station

Termini Station in Rome

If you are coming or going in Rome, you will probably be transiting through Termini. The station has regular train services to all major Italian cities, as well as daily international services to Munich, Geneva, and Vienna.

On a more local note, if you are looking for fresh fruits or vegetables, you should check out the Esquilino Market on Via Filippo Turati near the garden of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II. It has a great selection and is very fresh.

Ludovisi – District XVI

Nine times out of ten when I’m in this rioni I’m on a bus. The reason is because the #80 bus, which goes from Piazza Venezia to the Porta di Roma mall, goes down Via Vittorio Veneto. Beyond that, there are two important things to know about Ludovisi.

Number one is that this is where the U.S. Embassy is. If you run into any trouble while visiting the city, you should make a beeline to the embassy and expect you will get the help you need. I did learn one thing that made me laugh. If you are expecting an easier time at the U.S. Embassy due to the language barrier here in Rome, don’t bet on it. Until you reach the higher level, most of the people you will first encounter are local Italians, so it might continue to be a struggle.

The second place is if you really want to see some bones. It isn’t uncommon for some of the crypts in Italy to be empty, but leave it to the Capuchins. Il Museo e La Cripta Dei Frati Cappuccini has no shortage of bones and skulls and some are even arranged to make decorations. Enjoy!

Sallustiano – District XVII

This is a fairly small district along Via Venti Settembre. The two things I would recommend are walking to the Porta Pia Gate, which was designed by Michelangelo in the 1500s. If you are British, your embassy is right there.

The second site to see is the Santa Maria della Vittoria Catholic church and basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is best known, and the reason I went there, for the Bernini masterpiece, the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa.

Castro Pretorio – District XVIII

The Castro Pretorio, which translates to the barracks of the Praetorian Guard, is probably the first rioni you will see when you exit Termini. Walking around this area at night can be especially exciting. Seeing Piazza della Repubblica lit up is a lot of fun.

districts in rome italy - Hotel Marco Polo

Inexpensive Lodging at the Hotel Marco Polo

For us, this rioni signifies lodging. We have stayed in two very different hotels in this area and would definitely recommend one of them. The Residenza Cellini on via Modena is a fantastic place to stay. The rooms are classic in style, well maintained and clean and the staff goes out of their way to help you.

The other hotel we stayed in was the Hotel Marco Polo. We were there more than twenty years ago, so what can I say. It’s inexpensive and close to the train station. I’ll leave it there.

Celio – District XIX

This district begins and ends with the Colosseum. Not to be overly dramatic, but come on, where else are you going to go in Rome. As long as you’re in the neighborhood, you could also check out Villa Celimontana and Parco del Celio. They are tranquil places to get away from the crowds. You might also see those out of place green parakeets.

Testaccio – District XX

districts in rome italy - A Pyramid

A Pyramid in Rome

Testaccio was the home of A.S. Roma as the home stadium was there between 1929 and 1940. The area also became a center of activity for butchers. Testaccio was one of Rome’s traditional working-class neighborhoods, but gentrification has made it increasingly expensive.

Piazza Testaccio, the core of the rione, was the location of the local market until 2012, when it was moved to Via Luigi Galvani; Testaccio Market is popular with both locals and YouTubers alike. Everytime I see someone coming to Rome, Testaccio Market is one of their favorite places to visit. 

Pyramid of Cestius is a Roman Era pyramid which seems very out of place, but the pyramid was built during a period when Rome was going through a fad for all things Egyptian.

San Saba – District XXI

One of the main historical sites in San Saba is Caracalla, one of the ancient Roman baths in Rome. These were the city’s second largest Roman public baths and were in operation until the 530s. Today, however, they are a popular tourist attraction.

The FAO Building is the international headquarters of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). FAO helps governments and development agencies coordinate their activities to improve and develop agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and land and water resources. It also conducts research, provides technical assistance to projects, operates educational and training programs, and collects data on agricultural output, production, and development.

Prati – District XXII

Prati is a great place to eat and shop. It claims to be a bourgeois district, and its main street, Via Cola di Rienzo, is one of the most famous streets in Rome and consistently is ranked among the most important shopping streets in the city.

The other site I’ve enjoyed, but luckily only from the outside, is the Supreme Court of Cassation (Corte Suprema di Cassazione) which is the highest court of appeal, or court of last resort, in Italy. It is the equivalent of the U.S. Supreme Court. One the side away from the Tiber is the sprawling and relaxing Piazza Cavour, which I would heartily recommend if you need a break.

More Information On Neighborhoods And Districts In Rome, Italy

As you can see from this list of the districts in Rome, Italy, and part 1 of the Districts of Rome, there are lots of sites to see all around Rome and you shouldn’t feel like you have to see everything on your first trip to Italy, but it is helpful to know where you are, a little bit of the history and maybe some things you shouldn’t miss. Here are some posts that will give you more information on some of the popular districts and neighborhoods in Rome, Italy. Use these to plan your next visit:

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