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Rome’s Historic Center Neighborhoods: 22 Rioni

Wandering Rome Street Map
The Colosseum photo by Davi Pimentel

Welcome to Rome’s historic center, one of the most culturally and historically rich neighborhoods in the world. As you walk through the narrow streets of the Centro Storico, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported back in time to the days of the Roman Empire.

This area is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in the city, including the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Pantheon. The historic center of Rome is divided into 22 Rioni, each with its own unique character and charm. From the working-class district of San Lorenzo to the upscale neighborhood of Villa Borghese, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city center.

Whether you’re interested in ancient history, fine dining, or modern architecture, you’ll find it all in Rome’s historic center. In this article, we’ll have an amazing investigation of the neighborhoods that make up this fascinating area and explore the major sites that you won’t want to miss.

Trevi Fountain Roma
Trevi Fountain, Rome Photo By NikonZ7II

1. Monti

Roman Forum in Rome
Roman Forum By Modussiccandi

You’ll find Monti, the oldest rione in Rome, a charming neighborhood famous for its narrow cobbled streets and ancient houses. Here lies the Roman Forum, the heart of ancient Rome, surrounded by a labyrinth of alleyways filled with boutiques and trattorias. Its name encompasses three of Rome’s iconic hills: the Esquiline, the Viminale, and part of the Quirinale.

From Trajan’s Column to the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, visitors explore sites like the Archaeological Area of the Imperial Fora and Trajan’s Markets. Immersive experiences await at the Baths of Titus, while iconic structures such as the Palazzo delle Esposizioni add to the district’s allure.

Basilica di San Giovanni Laterano
Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran By MrPanyGoff

2. Trevi

Fontana di Trevi
Trevi fountain at night Photo by John Samuel

Trevi, a vibrant district in Rome, is renowned for the iconic Trevi Fountain, symbolizing the city’s charm. Its name, potentially derived from “trivium,” suggests a convergence of three streets near the main square.

Notable landmarks include Palazzo Poli, adorned with Nicola Salvi’s masterpiece fountain, Barberini Palace housing the National Gallery of Ancient Art, and the historic Quirinal Palace. Cultural events at the Scuderie del Quirinale and Bernini’s Fountain of the Triton add to the neighborhood’s charm.

The Dante Room in Palazzo Poli hosts concerts and lectures on the Divine Comedy, where Franz Liszt premiered his Dante Symphony. Additionally, Trevi is associated with Michelangelo‘s final years, commemorated by a plaque at Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali.

3. Colonna

Rome Historic centers
Photo by DellaGherardesca

The Colonna district, deriving its name from the Column of Marcus Aurelius, an ancient Roman monument commemorating the Emperor’s triumph in the Marcomannic Wars, holds a prominent position in Rome’s political and social landscape.

Alongside the renowned Column of Marcus Aurelius, the district features notable landmarks such as Palazzo Montecitorio, serving as the seat of the Italian Parliament, and the charming Piazza Colonna, embellished with an exquisite fountain and historic edifices.

Additionally, visitors can explore the vibrant atmosphere of the district’s main thoroughfares, including Via del Corso and Via Frattina, renowned shopping destinations catering to various budgets, as well as Via Sistina, a historic route linking the Pincio to the Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme.

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4. Campo Marzio

Twin churches and obelisk of Piazza dell Popolo, Rome
Twin churches and obelisk of Piazza dell Popolo photo by Neil Gilmour

Campo Marzio, nestled in one of Rome’s oldest areas, boasts a rich history dating back to ancient times, dedicated to the God Mars and military activities. Today, it exudes a lively and sophisticated ambiance, primarily renowned for its upscale shopping and leisure opportunities. Visitors can indulge in luxury shopping along elegant streets like Via dei Condotti and Via Margutta or unwind with cocktails at luxurious hotels in the heart of the historic center.

Amidst its refined atmosphere, Campo Marzio encompasses renowned landmarks such as Piazza del Popolo, Piazza di Spagna, and the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo, where masterpieces by esteemed artists like Raffaello and Caravaggio await exploration.

Additionally, the neighborhood boasts cultural treasures like the Ara Pacis Museum and the Mausoleum of Augustus, offering glimpses into the city’s illustrious past and architectural marvels from the Antonine period.

Piazza di Spagna and Trinità dei Monti
Piazza di Spagna and Trinità dei Monti photo by Paolo Margari

5. Ponte

PonteSantAngeloRom
Tiber River photo by Rabax63

Ponte, a luxurious neighborhood in Rome, derives its name from the famous Ponte Sant’Angelo, which connects it to the Vatican City across the Tiber River. Rooted in ancient history as part of the Campus Martius, Ponte boasts a rich heritage dating back to Roman times, characterized by military training grounds and public gatherings. It is renowned for its stunning architecture, high-end boutiques, fine dining restaurants, and vibrant nightlife.

Ponte district boasts a wealth of landmarks, including Palazzo Altemps, now a part of the National Roman Museum, known for its ancient sculpture collection. The Church of Santa Maria della Pace is revered for its Gothic architecture and magnificent frescoes by Raphael, Peruzzi, and Gentileschi.

Other highlights include Palazzo Milesi’s intricate facade depicting myths and virtues, the House of Fiammetta, attributed to the courtesan Fiammetta Michaelis, the quirky Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo, and the charming Via dei Coronari, renowned for its antique shops.

6. Parione

Piazza Navona Landmark
Rome’s River Statues

Parione in Rome’s historic center is cherished by locals and tourists alike. Highlights include the vibrant Campo de’ Fiori market, the iconic Piazza Navona with Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers, and cultural sites like Palazzo Braschi and the Giovanni Barracco Museum of Ancient Sculpture.

The district’s name comes from a massive ancient wall, possibly part of the Stadium of Domitian. Its streets, such as Via dei Balestrari and Via dei Chiavari, echo its commercial past. Piazza Navona, once a venue for agonal games, also housed Donna Olimpia Maidalchini, known as Pimpaccia, adding to its rich history.

Campo de' Fiori Rome
Campo de’ Fiori at night photo by JoCaDa

7. Regola

Palazzo Farnese in Rome
Photo by Myrabella

Regola, nestled in Rome’s historic center, boasts over 2,000 years of history. Originally part of the Campo Marzio, it was home to the Trigarium, an ancient hippodrome where charioteers trained for competitions. The district’s name stems from the “arenula,” soft sand deposited by the Tiber during floods.

Some notable landmarks in the district include Palazzo Cenci, known for its association with the tragic story of Beatrice Cenci and her family; Palazzo Farnese, serving as the French Embassy; Palazzo and Galleria Spada, featuring Borromini’s remarkable forced perspective; Via de’ Giubbonari, renowned as one of Rome’s top shopping streets.

Photo by Sonse

8. Sant’Eustachio

Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, Photo by Nicholas Gemini

Sant’Eustachio, situated in Rome’s Centro Storico between Piazza Navona and the Pantheon, is a district known for its high-end hotels and authentic Roman trattorias.

Among its notable attractions are Palazzo Madama, and the splendid Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, adorned with Caravaggio’s renowned masterpieces. The Basilica of Sant’Eustachio, featuring the emblematic stag’s head, stands as a Renaissance gem.

Visitors can also marvel at Caravaggio’s Madonna dei Pellegrini in the Basilica of Sant’Agostino and admire Borromini’s innovative spiral lantern at the Church of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza. Not far away stands the talking statue of Abate Luigi, offering a glimpse into Rome’s historical intrigue. Lastly, dei Redentoristi 13 commemorates the birthplace of renowned poet Giuseppe Gioachino Belli with a dedicated plaque.

Madonna_of_Loreto
Madonna of Loreto, Photo by TrevorFisher

9. Pigna

Pantheon Rome
Pantheon photo by Gabriella Clare Marino

Pigna, the 9th rione of Rome, is an ancient neighborhood situated in the city’s historic center. Its name, meaning “pine cone” in Italian, is symbolized by the colossal bronze pine cone at the center of the homonymous fountain.

The Pantheon, located in the vibrant Rione Pigna, stands as one of Rome’s most renowned tourist attractions. Home to the final resting place of illustrious figures like Raphael Sanzio, Annibale Carracci, and Baldassarre Peruzzi, as well as Italian monarchs Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I, the Pantheon holds immense historical significance.

The neighborhood is a popular destination for tourists and boasts architectural marvels like Palazzo Bonaparte and Palazzo Doria-Pamphili, as well as cultural gems such as the Church of Sant’Ignazio di Loyola, adorned with captivating optical illusions by Andrea Pozzo.

10. Campitelli

Palazzo Senatorio Photo by Alvesgaspar

Located between the Roman Forum and the iconic Campidoglio Hill, Campitelli is Rome’s 10th rione, teeming with historical significance and cultural treasures. Renowned for its wealth of archaeological and museum sites, encompassing over 60% of its expanse, the district attracts countless tourists annually. Visitors flock here to explore Michelangelo’s masterpiece, Piazza del Campidoglio, home to Palazzo Senatorio and the Capitoline Museums.

Other notable landmarks include the majestic Vittoriano monument, the medieval gem Piazza Margana, and the iconic Via dei Fori Imperiali, flanked by the monumental remnants of Caesar, Augustus, and Trajan’s forums. The district’s name, stemming from Campus Telluris or Capitolium, harkens back to its ancient roots.

With sites like the Mamertine Prison and the Ara Coeli Insula, Campitelli offers an amazing picture of Rome’s storied past.

The Via dei Fori Imperiali street in Rome
Via dei Fori Imperiali photo by Estormiz

11. Sant’Angelo

The Turtle Fountain Photo by Lalupa

Sant’Angelo, Rome’s smallest rione, sits on the Tiber’s left bank opposite Tiber Island, boasting the world’s second-oldest Jewish Ghetto from 1555. It’s a beloved spot for locals and tourists alike, drawn to its renowned traditional Jewish-Roman cuisine and historic sites like the Tempio Maggiore, an impressive Synagogue with original Assyrian-Babylonian style.

The district’s name comes from the church of Sant’Angelo in Pescheria, once near the ancient fish market, now commemorated by a marble slab regulating fish size.

The area also hosts significant landmarks such as the ancient Theater of Marcellus from 11 BC, a possible model for the Colosseum, and the Crypta Balbi, part of the National Roman Museum. Visitors can explore the Portico of Octavia, dedicated by Emperor Augustus, and marvel at the Turtle Fountain, one of Rome’s most beautiful fountains with its own fascinating story.

Tempio Maggiore, Photo by Mister No

12. Ripa

cloaca maxima
Cloaca Maxima Painting by Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg  

Ripa, a neighborhood in Rome, beckons visitors with its intriguing blend of history, culinary delights, and vibrant nightlife. Its central location allows for easy access via metro stops and leisurely strolls to major attractions. Ripa’s storied past, dating back to the Roman Empire, is evident in its labyrinthine streets and ancient edifices.

Stepping into Ripa unveils a treasure trove of iconic landmarks and archaeological wonders. Among these, the legendary Circus Maximus stands as a testament to ancient Roman spectacles, while the Cloaca Maxima, one of the world’s oldest sewer systems, narrates tales of engineering prowess from antiquity.

The district also hosts religious sites like the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, renowned for housing the enigmatic Mouth of Truth, adding an air of mystery and intrigue to Ripa’s allure.

mouth-of-truth
Mouth of Truth, Photo by Jorge Franganillo

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13. Trastevere

beautiful interior of Santa-Maria
Santa Maria in Trastevere

Trastevere stands out as Rome’s largest and most beloved district, representing the essence of the city’s bygone era. Its name is derived from the Latin trans Tiberim, meaning “beyond the Tiber.” This vibrant neighborhood boasts a plethora of monuments, churches, and cultural landmarks, including Palazzo Corsini alla Lungara, housing the National Museum of Ancient Art, and Villa Farnesina, renowned for its exquisite Renaissance frescoes by Raphael and his school.

Among its treasures are the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, the Basilica of Santa Cecilia, and Ponte Sisto, a historic bridge spanning the Tiber River, linking Trastevere with the Campo de Fiori area.

The district also encompasses the Museum of Roma in Trastevere, the fountain monument to Giuseppe Gioachino Belli, and the Museum of the Roman Republic and Garibaldi Remembrance.

Additionally, visitors can enjoy breathtaking views from the Janiculum hill, where the daily cannon firing tradition originated in 1847 under Pope Pius IX. A must-see attraction is the Tempietto del Bramante within the San Pietro in Montorio complex, believed to mark the site of St. Peter’s crucifixion.

Piazza di Santa Maria Italy
Architecture of Piazza di Santa Maria

14. Borgo

Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano
St. Peter’s Basilica photo by Alvesgaspar

Nestled between the Tiber River and Vatican City, the Borgo district serves as a gateway to iconic landmarks like St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, forming a natural precursor to these revered sites.

This charming area boasts a plethora of eateries, hotels, quaint souvenir shops, and historic vestment stores, contributing to its vibrant atmosphere. Its name, derived from the Saxon term “Burg,” reflects its origins as a small fortified village separate from the main city.

Borgo boasts historical landmarks like Castel Sant’Angelo, once Emperor Hadrian’s mausoleum and now a museum, and the Sant’Angelo Bridge adorned with angelic sculptures. Other highlights include the Passetto di Borgo, a fortified passageway linking the Vatican Palaces to the castle, and the Monumental Complex of Santo Spirito in Sassia, preserving remnants of ancient imperial gardens.

Borgo’s heritage includes Roman funerary pyramids and unique engravings like the “bread circle,” showcasing its intriguing past. Despite the demolition of the Spina di Borgo in the 1930s, Borgo remains captivating, offering views of Bernini’s Colonnade and St. Peter’s Basilica.

Castel Sant'Angelo: The Heart of Borgo's Heritage
The Beating Heart of Borgo’s Heritage

15. Esquilino

Perched atop the Esquiline Hill, the tallest among Rome’s foundational hills, Rione XV – Esquilino embodies a wonderful picture of multiculturalism and diverse traditions. The modern layout of the area, centered around Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, emerged in the late 19th century under the architectural vision of Gaetano Koch, creating a picturesque urban landscape.

Notable landmarks include Porta Maggiore, the Trophies of Mario Fountain, the enigmatic Magic Door, Santa Bibiana church, Ambra Jovinelli theater, and the Roman Aquarium, among others. Despite its once-perceived cursed status due to marshy conditions, Esquilino flourishes today as a dynamic cultural enclave and a testament to Rome’s rich historical background.

porta maggiore
Porta Maggiore Photo by NikonZ7II

16. Ludovisi

fountain-of-the-bees
Fountain of the Bees, Photo by Girolamo Cannatà

Ludovisi, the 16th rione of Rome, is renowned for Via Vittorio Veneto, epitomizing the glamorous Dolce Vita. Established after Italy’s unification, the rione arose from an agreement in 1886 between Rome’s Municipality and the Boncompagni family, successors to the Ludovisi, necessitating the allocation of Villa Ludovisi and its park for subdivision.

Formerly adorned with patrician villas in the late Republican era, it became home to Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi’s opulent villa, a hub for artists and scholars. Spacious streets like Via Vittorio Veneto symbolized luxury with its upscale hotels like the Excelsior. Notable landmarks include the Casino dell’Aurora Ludovisi, Palazzo Margherita, Fountain of the Bees, and the evocative Church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini, featuring a crypt adorned with the bones of 4000 friars.

Santa_Maria_della_Concezione_dei_Cappuccini
Church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini, Photo by
TrevorFisher

17. Sallustiano

Located between Via XX Settembre, Via Boncompagni, and Corso d’Italia, the refined Rione Sallustiano derives its name from the Horti Sallustiani, an opulent villa of Ancient Rome that once occupied its grounds.

The district boasts several notable landmarks, including the charming Villino Boncompagni Ludovisi, which houses the Boncompagni Ludovisi Museum for Decorative Arts, Costume, and Fashion, the exquisite Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, featuring Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s stunning sculptural group depicting the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa of Avila, and the ancient Horti Sallustiani dating back to the Republican era.

Adjacent to the ancient Porta Collina, the notorious Campus Sceleratus was known for its grim reputation as the burial site for Vestal Virgins who broke their vow of chastity, as chronicled by Plutarch, Phaedrus, and Pomponio Leto.

Santa Teresa in estasi
Ecstasy of Saint Teresa Photo by Alvesgaspar

18. Castro Pretorio

National Roman Museum
National Roman Museum, Photo by Carole Raddato

Rione Castro Pretorio, named after the Castra Praetoria built in 23 AD, still houses the world’s oldest barracks, now occupied by the Italian Army. Emperor Maximian’s 3rd-century Baths of Diocletian, later adapted by Michelangelo into the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, stand as testaments to ancient grandeur.

Notable landmarks include the National Roman Museum of the Baths of Diocletian and Palazzo Massimo, the monumental fountain marking the Felix Aqueduct’s terminus, Porta Pia, Via Nazionale, Piazza della Repubblica with its Fontana delle Naiadi, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, and the Bersaglieri Historical Museum, preserving the legacy of this revered military corps.

Fontana_delle_Naiadi
Fontana delle Naiadi, Photo by Maksym Kozlenko

19. Celio

Arco di Costantino
Arch of Constantine at Night photo by Livioandronico2013

Established in 1921 from the subdivision of Rione Campitelli, Rione XIX Celio derives its name from Cælius Vibenna, an Etruscan leader who settled in Rome in the 6th century BC. Once dense with oak forests, the Caelian Hill evolved into a residential area adorned with luxurious villas, retaining its charm today with bustling streets, eateries, and cafes amidst green spaces.

Celio boasts significant landmarks such as the Flavian Amphitheatre, Arch of Constantine, Museum of the Forma Urbis, and the Archaeological Park of the Caelian Hill, alongside religious sites like the Basilica of Saints John and Paul, Roman Houses of the Celio Hill, and the Basilica of the Santi Quattro Coronati.

Central to Celio’s identity is the iconic Colosseum, a colossal structure hosting various spectacles that amazed thousands of spectators with its intricate stage machinery.

20. Testaccio

Testaccio
Piazza Testaccio

Established in 1921, Rione Testaccio, situated on the Tiber’s left bank, epitomizes the genuine essence of Rome. The name “Testaccio” stems from Mons Testaceus, the “Mount of Shards,” a hill formed by discarded amphorae, remnants of Rome’s ancient port. Once a landfill, Testaccio evolved into a cultural hub, hosting events like the Ludus Testacie and the “Roman October” harvest festivities.

Noteworthy landmarks include the Non-Catholic Cemetery, where illustrious figures like John Keats rest, the monumental Monte dei Cocci, and the ancient Pyramid of Cestius. The area also houses the Mattatoio, an industrial relic now dedicated to contemporary art, the Emporium archaeological site, and Porta San Paolo, a grand and well-preserved gateway in the Aurelian Walls, dating back to the 3rd century AD.

Testaccio photos

21. San Saba

Colle Aventino
Aventine Hill Photo by Lalupa

Founded in 1921, Rione San Saba is a coveted residential enclave located amidst greenery in Rome’s city center. Notably, it hosts the evocative archaeological complex of the Baths of Caracalla, renowned as one of antiquity’s most impressive and well-preserved thermal baths.

Named after the Basilica of San Saba, constructed on the Aventine Hill, the district’s history intertwines with the legacy of San Saba, a Cappadocian monk pivotal in Eastern monasticism.

Notable landmarks in the area include the Basilica of Saints Nereo and Achilleo, revered for love vows, the Casina of Cardinal Bessarione, an extraordinary Renaissance villa, the Arch of Drusus, a relic of the Antoninian aqueduct.

22. Prati

Piazza Cavour
Piazza Cavour Prati

Rione Prati beckons visitors with its chic boutiques, gourmet eateries, and vibrant nightlife. Situated on the Tiber’s right bank, near the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica, Prati derives its name from the lush Castello meadows, once favored for leisurely picnics by Romans.

Following Italy’s unification and Rome’s designation as the capital, the district underwent rapid urbanization, characterized by the imposing Umbertino and delicate Art Nouveau architectural styles.

Key landmarks include Piazza Cavour, honoring statesman Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour, the intriguing Museo delle Anime del Purgatorio, and the stately Palace of Justice. Notably, the excavation near the Palace unearthed ancient sarcophagi and a remarkable ivory doll, showcasing exquisite craftsmanship from the 2nd century AD, now displayed at Centrale Montemartini.

Rome’s Historic Center Neighborhoods: A Recap

Rome’s historic center, known as Centro Storico, comprises twenty-two distinct neighborhoods, often referred to as ‘rioni.’ Each rione has its unique character and history, some of which you might be familiar with. Notable areas such as Monti (Rione I) captivate with ancient structures like Nero’s Domus Aurea and the Roman Forum. The Trevi district (Rione II) is home to the world-famous Trevi Fountain and a mosaic of charming streets and baroque architecture.

You can explore Rome, wandering through narrow cobbled streets lined with ancient houses and stumbling upon bustling piazzas such as Piazza Navona and Piazza Venezia. Historical landmarks abound, including the Spanish Steps at Piazza di Spagna, and grand religious edifices such as Santa Maria Maggiore and Santa Maria degli Angeli offer glimpses into Rome’s multi-layered past. Moreover, Campo Marzio (Rione IV) represents the city’s transition from medieval to modern with elegance, perfect for experiencing the blend of local life and history.