Best places to stay in Rome’s Historic Center

by Amy Knauff

If you ask a Roman to explain the different neighborhoods of the city, you will probably get a lecture about rioni and municipi, which are the administrative divisions of the city. Basically, Rome has 15 different municipi that make up the city: the historic center is contained within Municipio I. Within Municipio I, there are different rioni, neighborhoods. The term rione evolved over time from the Latin regio, and the exact names and boundaries of the different rioni have changed slightly over time as well. Today, there are 22 different rioni, each with its own coat-of-arms. For example, the 2nd rione of Rome is Trevi, and is, of course, the area around the Trevi Fountain.

Now that the mini geography lesson is over… nobody (not even most Romans) really follows the names or exact geographical boundaries of the rioni to a T these days – they simplify things by referring to a neighborhood as the area around a well-known monument or square. For our purposes, the main neighborhoods of the historic center are: Piazza del Popolo/Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Campo de’ Fiori, and Piazza Venezia/Jewish Ghetto.

The Piazza del Popolo/Spanish Steps are grouped together because they’re so close and the area where any accommodations might be is basically between the two (bordered by Villa Borghese to the northeast and the big shopping street that runs down the middle of the historic center, Via del Corso, to the southwest). This area is upscale with a lot of fancy stores and restaurants, and the Italian families that live around here tend to be on the wealthy side. That means the apartments available for rent are usually (but not always) on the upper end of the price range, but they’re also really beautiful and well-maintained – in other words, worth it!

Appartamento Capo le Case – this is a really reasonably priced option in the Spanish Steps neighborhood, especially for the area and quality of the apartment, that sleeps 2-4 people, ranging from €125-145 per night.

We don’t have many properties in the Trevi Fountain area, and I couldn’t really tell you why – perhaps it just so happens that most of the apartment owners there prefer to live in the neighborhood instead of turning their apartment into a private rental; perhaps it’s a somewhat less residential area in general (as it’s now full of shops, restaurants, hotels, etc). Either way, on Cross-pollinate we have relatively few apartments in that area, but since it’s a sought-after neighborhood, the ones we do have get snapped up right away.

Appartamento Rasella – just a few minutes from the Trevi Fountain, this 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom apartment sleeps up to 4 people and costs €136-159.

The next neighborhood, the Pantheon area, is right in between the Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona. The area comprises the streets directly around the Pantheon and also those directly to the north (most Romans know it as the Campo Marzio area, and the area also includes one of the Italian Parliament buildings, the Chamber of Deputies). The streets around here are mostly small, winding, and cobblestoned – typical of what you’d imagine when you think of Rome. The Pantheon is of course the centerpiece of the neighborhood, but the nearby square with Hadrian’s Temple (now the home of the Italian stock market) is also impressive.

Appartamento Oblò – this is a sweet little find for a couple or a family, ranging from €90-110. It’s small but nicely set up and tucked just behind the Pantheon on a quiet, narrow street.

Continuing to the west, there’s the Piazza Navona area. The streets around this area are, much like the Pantheon area, small, winding, cobblestoned, picturesque. Besides the usual collection of restaurants, shops, and hotels, there are also a few streets in this neighborhood that are particularly known for antique shops (Via dei Coronari) and vintage/secondhand clothing shops (Via del Governo Vecchio). These streets are great for wandering around and getting lost.

Appartamento Minerva 2 – on one of the most picturesque streets around Piazza Navona, Via dei Banchi Vecchi. A 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom apartment sleeping up to 4 people for €137-159.

A short walk from Piazza Navona (crossing the main thoroughfare Corso Vittorio Emanuele II) is Campo de’ Fiori. This square is famous for its fruit/vegetable/flower market during the day, and its nightlife at night. The streets in this area are, again, picturesque, historic, and great for getting lost.

Appartamento Sant’Andrea - about halfway between Campo de’ Fiori and Largo Argentina, and close to the ruins of the Teatro di Pompeo, this is a bigger apartment with a picturesque balcony that can sleep up to 6 people, ranging from €142-165.

And finally, the Piazza Venezia/Jewish Ghetto area – grouped into one neighborhood because of their proximity. Accommodations could be just around Piazza Venezia (on the side opposite the Roman Forum), around Largo Argentina (a square with ancient ruins where Caesar was murdered – which, by the way, is now a cat sanctuary), and the Jewish Ghetto, the neighborhood just to the south of Piazza Venezia and bordered by the river on the south. Accommodations very close to Largo Argentina and Piazza Venezia could be on busy, trafficked street, but ones in the Jewish Ghetto – which was, of course, once the ghetto where Jews were forced to live, and is today still the home of a large Jewish community – are on more picturesque, cobblestoned streets. The area is actually very quiet compared to the rest of the historic center and although it gets busy at mealtimes because there are excellent restaurants, there’s no real nightlife (that’s across the river in Trastevere, or over by Campo de’ Fiori) so it’s a great area to stay in.

La Casa al Portico – this is right next to the impressive Portico d’Ottavia, an ancient monument in the Jewish Ghetto, and also less than a block from the synagogue. It sleeps up to 4 people for €165 per night.

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