Explore the other side of the eternal city with Elisa Colarossi’s top tips on what to eat, where to stay, and how to spend your time in suburban Rome.
Suburban Rome travel guide
As you walk these suburban streets, you’ll get to meet very unusual but adorable Roman citizens: the cats. In these residential areas away from the centre you’ll have the chance to encounter plenty!
But rest assured, in Rome, cats are well taken care of, thanks to volunteers (called ‘gattari’) who take care of their food and health needs.
Some of the cats have owners and just love to browse around; others are part of colonies. Either way, they won’t say no to a cuddle or two.
Largo Preneste’ Votive Wall
In the very midst of one of the beating hearts of Roman traffic, at the corner of Via Prenestina and Via di Portonaccio, sits the Votive Wall (Ex-Voto) of Largo Preneste, a particular curiosity.
Faithfuls commemorated their answered prayers (since 1910) with marble plaques which life to a unique memorial, located right where you would least expect it, granting everyone passing by something truly unique to gaze at.
‘Antichi Sapori’ in Centocelle
One of the best delis in Rome can be found in the heart of Centocelle and for a midmorning Roman panino there’s nothing better. With fresh bread, regional cheeses, cold cuts, olives and a lovely atmosphere, Antichi Sapori is the alimentario of everyone’s dreams. The owners are incredibly kind and fun plus the iconic boar statue placed outside facing their entrance is an amusing feature that has been there since I was a kid. Via delle Acacie, 41A
What to see and do in suburban Rome
PARCO DI TOR FISCALE | Via dell’Acquedotto Felice, 120
See Roman aqueducts, sepulchres, remains of Roman villas from the Imperial era and the imposing 30-metre high eponymous tower.
To cover more ground in less time, consider renting a bike. Grab a coffee or an aperitivo at Ristoro del Casale.
MERCATO TUSCOLANO III | Viale Spartaco, 45
One of my favourite markets in Rome! Big, loud and offering everything from produce to homeware.
A market where you’ll be able to experience a true Roma, buying regional delicacies such as freshly grated pecorino cheese and warm porchetta di Ariccia sliced on the spot.
MANDRIONE | Via del Mandrione
Right behind Pigneto sits Casilina Vecchia. Its peaceful atmosphere, eye-catching features and the aqueduct overlooking like a gentle giant makes these streets perfect for a stroll.
The name of the area (and the street of the same name) comes from ‘mandria’ (herd), which refers to when, back in the day, shepherds used to bring herds to graze on these very streets (once fields).
CATACOMBE DEI SANTI MARCELLINO E PIETRO | Via Casilina, 641
Situated on the busy Via Casilina, these catacombs represent a true treasure of Roman Christianity with wonderful frescoes. Excavated between the 3rd and 5th century AD, the Catacombs of are an iconic must-see, as is the Mausoleo di Sant’Elena, where Emperor Constantine’s mother was buried. (Closed on Thursdays and during the whole month of August.)
VILLA GORDIANI | Via Prenestina, 325
Rome is home to wonderful historical parks and Villa Gordiani is no exception.
Built during the 3rd century AD and owned by the Imperial Gordian family, the complex is divided by one of the busiest streets of Rome (Via Prenestina) and is a concoction of interesting ruins, but what strikes you most about it is the size of the Mausoleum and the remains of its vaulted dome that puts you in mind of the Pantheon.
Where to stay in suburban Rome
ABBRACCIA MORFEO B&B | Via Capua, 24
Local accommodation at its best. Located on the first floor of a Roman-style villino of the early 1900s, on a tranquil street in between Tor Pignattara and Pigneto, this is genuinely your home away from home.
The Metro C Malatesta around the corner and the lovely terrace make Abbraccia Morfeo a true jewel.
SWEET HOME PIGNETO GUEST HOUSE | Via L’Aquila, 29
Contemporary staying with a touch of that good old Roman fashion. Located right in the heart of Pigneto, this stylish yet authentic guest house will make you feel right at home.
It stands conveniently close to shops, restaurants and all the hip places of the neighbourhood – plus Metro C Pigneto is just a five-minute walk away if you ever decide you wish to venture further afield.
L’OASI AL PIGNETO | Via del Pigneto, 227
Enjoy Pigneto and its wondrous gardens, staying at one of the cutest places in town.
Surrounded by lemon trees and a one of a kind chill atmosphere (only 300 metres from the metro), this charming and peaceful location will let you breathe a new side of Rome, while being incredibly close to the lively part of it.
APPIA ANTICA RESORT | Via Appia Pignatelli, 368
Add some ‘Roman posh vibes’ to your stay by spending your fabulous days in the heart of the Appia Antica, famous for being the oldest road in the world.
You are still incredibly close to the city, yet perfectly balancing that countryside feeling, thanks to unbelievable gardens and scenery.
B&B GLICINI | Via dei Glicini, 125
Simple, tranquil and efficient, this bed and breakfast only five minutes from the Metro C Mirti station has everything you could ever need for an easy and hassle-free stay. The area it’s in is one of the most peaceful of Centocelle.
Via Dei Castani, the main street of the neighbourhood with all the shops and bars plus restaurants and pizzerias, are just at a hand’s reach.
Where to eat in suburban Rome
KEY TO RESTAURANT PRICES (full meal per person, not including wine):
- €:Up to €25
- € €: €26-€50
- € € €: More than €50
OSTERIA DEGLI UBERTINI | Via Guglielmo degli Ubertini, 77
Surrounded by residential buildings and locals running their errands, Osteria degli Ubertini is an extraordinary traditional osteria where you’ll get to enjoy the true Roman meal experience. Busy and lively, it can’t get any more Roman than this.
L’OMBRALONGA | Via Federico Delpino, 110
Grab a Spritz and a scrumptious tagliere to nibble on and go with the flow. Venetian-themed with their Romaninspired cicchetti and many refreshing kinds of Spritz, L’Ombralonga is one of the most famous places for aperitivo in the whole of Rome.
OSTERIA QUI SE MAGNA | Via del Pigneto, 307A
Unpretentious, easy-going and fun, exactly like eating with your family. As their names states “qui se magna” (here one eats). Far from the crowded part of Pigneto, this osteria is the perfect location for a special Roman dinner, amid lively locals
HOSTARIA 100CELLE | Via delle Acacie, 122
Tucked away in the quieter part of Centocelle, this osteria is my go-to. Everything is freshly made and the host is a delight. Their menu offers some of the most traditional Roman specialties, including tongue, tripe and beans with pork rinds. Their home-made tiramisù, though, takes the crown.
BUONE MANIERE | Via Torde’Schiavi, 77
A local favourite where ingredients and good manners (as their name states) stand out brilliantly. Order the ‘fritto Italia’ for the best fried sage and seasonal vegetables you’ll ever try. Then the main protagonist: pizza. Their selection is huge, but go for the ‘Campione’, which won first place in the Campionato di Pizza Italiana.
Fly to Rome Fiumicino (more central) or Ciampino (favoured by the budget airlines), or travel by train from London St Pancras.
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