Set between two main thoroughfares, Via Cavour and Via Nazionale, Monti is in part composed of Suburra, the ancient “Sub Urbe” quarter – i.e., under the city – the nether parts of which give out onto the boulevard passing the Colosseum. The neighborhood’s uneven roads are paved with cobblestones (sanpietrini in Italian); at night, a stroll over them is a spectacle in itself. The entire zone revolve around the little piazza Madonna dei Monti, with its characteristic Catecumeni Fountain, designed by Giacomo della Porta.
Among the area’s pizzerias, try Le Carrette. If it’s authentic Roman cuisine you’re after, Da Valentino on Via Urbana offers delicious dishes of pasta, grilled mushrooms, and stewed snails.
The bakery (Forno) on Via dei Serpenti is appreciated by Romans throughout the city, particularly during breakfast hours, while the perpendicular road, Via Panisperna, hosts restaurants whose fame dates back to the days of Dolce Vita. The street, taking its name from Panis et perna, Latin for bread and prosciutto, was once the location for the Institute of Physics, where Enrico Fermi and his brilliant contemporaries collaborated in the 1930s.
A network of small-time merchants and artisans have still managed to hang on to their businesses in Monti, thus lending to the scene a look of the antique, taking us back into the Rome of yesteryear. Typical gilders’ shops and carpentry workshops, blacksmiths and junk dealers embellish these small streets, along with temporary vintage/consignment markets and art galleries.