Piazza Vittorio, south of Rome’s main train station, Stazione Termini, is an area that is often scoffed at by Romans and regarded as dangerous by tourists. The area has been called Rome’s Chinatown, and reviewed on travel forums and in guidebooks as the “seedy and dangerous” side of the city. In our opinion, these views are oversimplifications. True, many of the streets are gritty — especially via Giolitti as you head toward Santa Maria Maggiore from Termini and via Gioberti which runs parallel to the station, but apart from some bruttezza (ugliness), nothing threatening. Yes, there are many Chinese, Indian and other Asian and African immigrants in the area — Rome needed a break-up to its homogeneity. On the flip side, and not as noticed by visitors, are residents in the area such as musicians like the amazing Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio and many Italian yuppies: professional architects, designers and artists. Piazza Vittorio is a convenient area for tourists with a subway stop on the red line/Line A metro, close proximity to Termini station and with lots of accommodation options – most of which are easier on the budget than the historic center. As with anywhere, if you know where to look, there are gems. Here are a few well-known food gems that are guaranteed to improve your perception of the area.
The original Roscioli bakery dates back to at least 1824 (cited by a census conducted by the Vatican) on via dei Chiavari, 34 near Campo dei Fiori and is still within the Roscioli family. In the center they have a few other locations — a restaurant and a salumeria. There is another Roscioli on via Buonarotti, 48, just south of piazza Vittorio heading toward via Merulana. I’ve heard it’s no longer owned by the Roscioli family anymore, but whatever connection they had to the original has made its mark. They make amazing bread and pizza, have a coffee bar, and a cafeteria-style food bar. The staff is super nice and friendly.
Located just off piazza Vittorio on via Principe Eugenio, 65, is one of the oldest gelaterie in Rome, the Palazzo del Freddo Giovanni Fassi. Founded by Giacomo Fassi in 1880 as a little kiosk that sold ice and beer, it was turned into a gelateria by his son Giovanni in the 1920s and is no longer run by his children, instead having grown into a kind of franchise with their famous “san pietrini”. www.palazzodelfreddo.it
One of our favorite restaurants in Rome is Trattoria Monti, owned and run by the Camerucci family from Le Marche and brothers Daniele and Enrico can often be found in the front room as the head waiters. A small, intimate place located on via di San Vito, 13 between piazza Vittorio and piazza Santa Maria Maggiore. You will find them in just about every reputable guide or blog ever published on Rome.
With a modern, contemporary feel to it, it’s enough to make it a special night out, but not too pricey to break the bank. They have a great wine list, and will make spot-on suggestions for you if need be. They always have seasonal specials off the menu, and in the years we’ve been going there we’ve never had a bad meal. This place is always full so you’ll definitely need to reserve for both lunch and dinner times. Make sure to order one of the flan/tortino antipasti to start, and end with the amaretto semifreddo for dessert. Tel. 064466573.