Hanging Out in San Lorenzo
The presence of the huge Sapienza University of Rome, founded way back in 1303, gives this area immediately southeast of Termini Station a lively feel, with bars, clubs and budget eateries solidly geared towards students. It's also popular with left-wing bohemian types, who patronise the art galleries, cultural centres and performance venues found on almost every graffiti-clad street.
Start Basilica di San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura
End Bar Celestino
Length 3km; six hours
Basilica di San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura
Standing on the site of St Lawrence's burial place, this basilica is a popular venue for local weddings and baptisms. It suffered bomb damage in WWII but retains a stunning Cosmati floor and 13th-century frescoed portico.
Explore the Cimitero di Campo Verano
Next door to the basilica, the Cimitero di Campo Verano is a strangely moving place. Avenues of grandiose tombs criss-cross the cemetery, Rome's largest, which dates to the Napoleonic occupation of Rome (1804–14).
Now that you've got your sightseeing out of the way, it's time to delve into the drinking and art scenes that San Lorenzo is known for. Start at stylish Said, a hybrid boutique cafe-bar and restaurant set in a cleverly reimagined 1920s factory. Order a hot chocolate, chocolate martini or other chocolatey temptation.
Pop in to visit the left-leaning artists and local residents who operate this hybrid arts space and neighbourhood centre. You're bound to find someone keen to brief you on the local visual art, literary and political scenes.
The friendly bar staff at hipster hot spot Artisan are always happy to recommend particular craft beers from its large range, which is sourced from across the globe.
Eat with the Beats
The book-lined walls and vintage furnishings at Officina Beat provide a suitably boho setting for a drink (craft beers and cocktails are the tipples of choice) or a simple meal.
Nuovo Cinema Palazzo
Now fully fuelled, head to this palace of alternative culture to experience one of the creative happenings that it hosts – everything from film screenings to theatre performances, jazz concerts to breakdance classes. The piazza out the front is popular with street artists.
Bring your day's exploration to a close at Bar Celestino, opened for business way back in 1904. If you can fight your way through the crowd and claim a seat inside, kudos to you. If not, join the grungy regulars drinking on the pavement and street.
- Alternative culture
- Craft beer
Walk It's a short walk from Termini Station.
Tram Catch tram 19 or 3.
Bars & Boutiques in Monti
The first residential rione (district) established beyond the walls of the Imperial city, Monti was once a working class area infamous for its brothels, seedy wine shops and general air of debauchery. These days, the brothels have been replaced by artisanal boutiques, the wine shops have morphed into bohemian bars and the ambience is local, arty and pretension-free.
Start La Bottega del Caffè
End Blackmarket Hall
Length 1.9km; one day
Set on the eastern edge of pocket-sized Piazza della Madonna dei Monti with its pretty Fontana dei Catecumeni, a fountain named for adults initiated to the Catholic Church, La Bottega del Caffè serves the best coffee in Monti, and also has the most alluring terrace. Colonise a table and watch local life unfold in front of you.
Via del Boschetto
Sauntering along this street proves that Monti's much-hyped reputation as an alternative fashion hub is fully justified. Clothing boutiques such as Tina Sondergaard have led the way, joined by vintage outlets, jewellery stores and other tempting businesses.
During the high season Monti can be a maelstrom of crowds, so it's a relief to know that there is a tranquil bolthole available just off traffic-choked Via Nazionale. This sculpture-dotted garden in front of a 16th-century villa has a scattering of benches beneath perfumed orange trees, where it's easy to catch one's breath.
Every neighbourhood needs a welcoming pizzeria, and Monti has one of the best in town. Alle Carrette serves up thin-crust, piping-hot pizza to a constant stream of locals and tourists, and is just as popular at lunch as it is later in the evening. Sit inside in winter and in the rear laneway during the warmer months.
Via dei Serpenti
Another excellent shopping street, Via dei Serpenti has a view of the Colosseum from its southern end and a garland of tempting boutiques stretching north on each side of the road, including one of the city's best vintage clothing shops, Pifebo.
Ai Tre Scalini
Into the Wee Hours
Monti has more than its fair share of bars, all with their own characters. Multi-roomed speakeasy Blackmarket Hall is popular with locals who want to enjoy a quiet drink and conversation rather than hang out in one of the noisy local wine bars. The volume picks up at weekends, though, when live music acts perform.
- Fashion boutiques
- Wine bars
Metro Cavour (line B)
Bus 75 & N2 (Via Cavour), multiple buses Via Nazionale