Editor’s Note: Travel might be complicated right now, but use our inspirational trip ideas to plan ahead for your next bucket list adventure.
Like many districts centered around transportation hubs, Esquilino — the quartiere surrounding Rome’s Termini train station — has never been much of a tourist draw, mostly home to taxi stands, drab business hotels, and fast-food joints catering to hungry commuters.
Now, that’s starting to change. The station shelters the buzziest food hall in the city. Boutique inns and design-oriented properties are offering a chic alternative to vacationers and business travelers alike. And the blocks south of Termini blend seamlessly into the heart of Monti, a quiet gem of a neighborhood with an outsize number of cool boutiques and phenomenal ristoranti.
Here are our favorite stops in the area.
Part bottle shop, part bistro, the walls of Amodei are lined with cases of Italian products and D.O.C. specialty foods: dried pasta, truffles, olive oils, tinned fish, local beers, and over 250 Italian wines. Buy some souvenirs and sit down for dinner or an aperitivo at the communal table, where you can order platters organized geographically — including the Lazio, featuring capocollo and fiocco cheese, or the Parma, with pecorino, mortadella, and ham — and fresh pizza bianca stuffed with burrata or chicory.
Bettoja Hotel Mediterraneo
Built in 1938, the family-owned Mediterraneo is an Art Deco monument designed by the noted architect Mario Loreti. A $22 million renovation project recently upgraded 70 rooms and suites and restored the 1940s-era furniture and priceless art in the public spaces (including many mosaics and wood inlays by Achille Capizzano, all protected by Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage). The rooftop restaurant has an unmatched view; this is the tallest building on the highest hill in Rome.
Madre is the eclectic restaurant at Roma Luxus, a design-forward boutique hotel inside a former convent. Here, in a colorful, indoor-outdoor space full of plush couches and hanging plants, you’ll find tapas and sharing plates that reflect a mix of influences, including Iberian, South American, and regional Italian: ceviches, Serrano ham and pan con tomate, and the specialty, a sweet Roman bun called maritozzo, with nontraditional fillings like vitello tonnato (veal with tuna sauce) or burrata with Cantabrian anchovies.
Mercato Centrale Roma
The Mercato Centrale group is a network of community-focused food halls with an ambitious goal: to bring back the hum and conviviality of Italy’s traditional central market. The Rome location, located inside a Fascist-era building attached to Termini, houses Scabeat, a restaurant from chef Davide Scabin, and 20 stalls from some of the city’s favorite food figures and artisans. Grab a trapizzino, the famous sandwich invented by pizzaiolo Stefano Callegari.
The hype-y sneaker store Suede has been a fixture in Monti since it opened seven years ago, and its presence is only growing. Last year, the menswear-focused flagship — part of the coveted Adidas Consortium, wherein influential retailers work on custom footwear collaborations with the brand — relocated to a modern new space with shoes as far as the eye can see. And Suede has now branched out into womenswear, opening a new women’s boutique just down the street that stocks street styles from brands like Sergio Tacchini — and, of course, the freshest kicks.
No visit to the area would be complete without a stop at this beloved trattoria — but you’ll need to plan ahead. Reservations are basically required at this tiny restaurant, long considered one of the best old-school spots in Rome. It feels like a slice of Monti history; before the vintage stores and cocktail bars, this rione functioned for a long time like a village within the city, and locals reminisce about the days of accordion music and Catholic processions. The tortello d’uovo — a giant pasta pocket sheathing a gooey egg yolk — is Trattoria Monti's signature dish.
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