An Insider’s Guide to Rome’s Monti Neighborhood

written by Dajana 7. February 2019
An Insider’s Guide to Rome’s Monti Neighborhood

Back in the old Roman days, Monti was a crowded inner-city district right next to the Empire’s centre of power and divided from it by a long wall to protect the Forum from the fires that would break out regularly. Today, Monti still manages to retain its bohemian spirit! It has become one of the city’s best areas for alternative and vintage fashion, design, street food and coffee culture.

A Quiet Treasure

The best thing about Monti? It is near to everything but at the same time a world of its own. While many Rome newbies tend to ignore what lies between the famous Santa Maria Maggiore Church near Termini, the Colosseo and Quirinal Hill, make sure not to miss one of the city’s most charming old neighborhoods. Monti became more popular in the last years but is still not as well known to tourists as the Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Navona neighborhoods. It is one of these areas in Rome that still has this genuine bohemian atmosphere even though it’s very close to some of the city’s main tourist sites.

Monti is more Roman! Knife sharpeners, butchers, artisans, young entrepreneurs and artists have their coffee at the same little bar. They buy their food at the same market and have a glass of wine or beer in the area’s central hub, Piazza della Madonna dei Monti. This is probably the most popular meeting point in Monti and especially crowded in the evenings when groups of locals enjoy some drinks with their friends on the fountains marble steps.

Just like a movie set

When I left my heart in Rome, I must have left a big piece of it in Monti. And who wouldn’t if the streets look like in a movie set, and if walking down Via dei Serpenti that turns into Via degli Annibaldi guides you directly to the Colosseum? Of course gentrification also brought problems and Monti has changed a lot, but is still a village with a very special spirit. It is exactly this spirit you can also find in the bars and restaurants around.

It’s Rome’s hip quarter

From breakfast to lunch, dinner and drinks with your friends: Monti has it all! Enjoy your breakfast and coffee in a relaxed setting, check out the artisan and vintage shops, have a classic Roman lunch or try some of the cool lunch spots that opened recently. With aperitivo time approaching,  Monti is the place to be and there are numerous great bars you could check out. Here’s a selection of some of the best spots in Monti.

1. Ai Tre Scalini

Via Panisperna 251, open daily from 12:00 – 1am

If you are looking for an authentic place for your aperitivo in the early evening, head for Ai Tre Scalini in Via Panisperna. This bottiglieria opened in 1895 and has only changed little since then. The ivy-draped building also makes a great photo backdrop for your pictures of Monti. They also offer a variety of options for dinner – make sure not to order dinner too early, though. Italians usually do not have dinner before at least 8pm in the evening.

2. Ami Pokè

Via della Madonna dei Monti 38, open daily from 12:00 – 4pm & from 4pm – 6pm 

Hailed as the first Hawaiian bar in Italy, Ami Poké opened its doors in spring 2018 in the heart of Monti, serving healthy poké bowls and some other healthy Hawaiian dishes. The interior is Hawaii inspired and modern. Nice little eatery for a healthy lunch in Monti.

3. Analemma Cafe

Via Leonina 77, open Monday – Thursday from 8am – 1am, Friday – Saturday from 8am – 2am 

Funky furniture, colorful murals and unexpected spaces: Analemma is a laid-back bar offering coffee, pastries, lunch, aperitivo and drinks in the evening. Open all day long and nice place to hang out on colder days in Rome, too. Make sure to check out the King Size Vintage Shop right next to Analemma, too!

4. Avocado Bar

Via della Madonna dei Monti 103, open Monday – Sunday from 11:30am – 3pm & from 6:30pm – 11pm

There was probably no better place to open Italy’s first ever Avocado Bar than the hip Monti neighborhood! Stylish interior design, fresh and healthy food and of course the bar’s main act: avocado. Go there for a healthy avocado toast in the morning, if you’re craving for guacamole, want to mix up the pasta game with a healthy salad bowl or funky burger with avocado!

5. Barzilai Bistrot

Via Panisperna 44, open Monday – Sunday from 8am – 1am

Barzilai is one of my favorite little hidden gems in Monti. Hidden amongst the hilly streets of this bohemian neighborhood, Barzilai is a little bistrot and wine bar. Its name is actually Roman dialect meaning “2 litres of wine”. Its characteristics: rustic interior design, wooden tables, a small bar with fresh salumi and cheese, and bottles of wine all over. This bistrot has the perfect size for a cozy evening with friends, great food and a lot of wine. The menu includes favorites like pasta, lasagna, meat dishes and home-made desserts such as tiramisù and crostata. Ask the friendly staff which wine goes best with your food. They are always happy to help.

6. Blackmarket Monti 

Via Panisperna 101, open Sunday – Friday from 6pm – 2:15am & Saturday from 6pm – 2:30am  

We spent uncountable evenings at Blackmarket Monti when I was studying in Rome, and still I love coming back to this place. The venue is great! Once you go through the relatively small entrance, you’ll be guided to a beautifully designed vintage basement bar where you might feel more like in a stylish living room from the 1950’s! Dim lightning, second hand vintage furniture, old sofas and interesting artwork are all over. The multiple little rooms as well as the mix of furniture make it an intimate and warm setting for numerous cool events.

Every week Blackmarket hosts numerous cultural events, ranging from intimate Indie gigs, to book presentations, art exhibitions and live Dj sets. They became famous for the Unplugged in Monti music sessions. Follow them on Facebook to stay tuned about their next events. And don’t worry, there’s also food! At Black Market you can also have some snacks for an aperitivo or choose some of their options from the menu.

7. La Casetta a Monti 

Via della Madonna dei Monti 62, open Monday – Thursday from 8:30am – 8pm, Friday – Saturday from 8:30am – 10:30pm, Sunday from 9:30am – 9:30pm 

La Casetta is a real Monti gem and one of these bars you will always come back to. This ivy-covered old house is one of the most photographed houses in the neighborhood. Come here for a coffee break and homemade cake or have a healthy lunch. Perfect starting point for your artisan and vintage shopping tour in Monti. P.s.: La Casetta is also a great place for breakfast in Rome.

8. Urbana 47

Via Urbana 47, open Monday – Sunday from 8am – midnight 

You won’t have any problems remembering the address of this restaurant as it is its name. Urbana 47 is a cafe, cocktail bar and restaurant using local organic ingredients to prepare fresh handmade specialties. The location includes a small cinema with regular screenings and a film-matched food and wine concept. There is also a street food corner, bar and restaurant. You can hang out here for breakfast, lunch, dinner or special events. It’s usually most crowded in the evenings, which makes it a nice place for short working sessions, too. Perfect place to check your mails or write your next bestseller.

9. Vodoo Bar

Via delle Terme di Traiano 4a, Thursday – Sunday from 5pm – 3am 

When entering the Voodoo Bar in spring and summer, you might wonder if you are still in Rome. Yes, you definitely are, even though it looks more like a beautiful retreat somewhere in Bali. The Voodoo Bar is a 2,000 sqm park and unlike anything you’ll see in Rome. Discover the entirely open air area and check out the tropical restaurant, live art performances, a healing area where you can get a massage. Voodoo Bar is definitely the go-to-place for a hot summer night in Rome and will be a unique experience.

Monti’s Vintage Gem: PIFEBO

Via dei Serpenti 135 & 141, open Monday to Saturday from 11am – 8pm

This Monti gem is a must for vintage lovers! Pifebo should definitely be on your list if you are into vintage clothing, leather bags and funky vintage sunglasses. I discovered them many years ago when they only had one shop in the university district San Lorenzo. The Pifebo team opened their first shop back in 2007. Today they run multiple stores in Rome offering a unique selection of vintage clothing in every single one. All pieces are hand-selected by the three friends and founders Elisa, Francesco e Cristiano. Go there to find the one specific item of clothing or funky sunglasses you were looking for everywhere. Perfect place to get yourself a unique souvenir from Rome. Also, check out their Instagram account and recently launched online shop and discover their vintage collection now.

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