Introducing Monti, Esquilino & San Lorenzo
Esquilino is one of Rome's seven hills, and the area encompasses the sometimes scruffy area around Stazione Termini and Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II. It is also home to some fantastic sights, including some of Rome's finest medieval churches, and the Museo Nazionale Romano: Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, which displays stunning classical art.
Heading downhill, Monti was the ancient city’s notorious Suburra slum – a red-light district and the childhood home of Julius Caesar – but is now a charming neighbourhood of inviting eateries, shops and enoteche (wine bars). You could say Monti is Rome’s Greenwich Village, and, as if to put the seal on its accelerating gentrification, Woody Allen filmed parts of To Rome with Love here in 2011.
San Lorenzo is a lively student quarter east of Termini, home to a beautiful, little-visited patriarchal basilica. It was the area most damaged by Allied bombing during WWII, ironic given the area’s vehemently anti-Fascist politics. By day the area feels hungover, a grid of graffitied streets that nonetheless harbour some gemlike boutiques, but after dark it shows its true colours as a student nightlife haunt; it’s also home to some excellent restaurants.
A quick tram ride southeast, Pigneto is even more bohemian, the Roman equivalent of London’s Shoreditch. House prices are rising and its bars and funky offbeat shops attract a regular crowd of artists and fashion-conscious urbanites.