- If the Pope had a front yard, it would be Prati - but don’t tell that to its residents! Developed at the turn of the 20th century with the fall of the Papal Dominion, Prati was planned as a residential neighbourhood with wide and linear streets and pavements made to accommodate lots of pedestrian traffic. On the shop-lined streets and piazzas, you will find grandparents proudly pushing strollers and teenagers hanging out. Its familial atmosphere is always inviting.
The Pope's front yard
The large Prati area can best be defined as the pocket neighbourhood east of the Vatican and its Renaissance wall, and west of the Tiber River. The rectilinear streets lead from Piazza Risorgimento (Vatican area) to the river, with via Cola di Rienzo as the main point of reference. The straight and wide Viale delle Milizie acts as both northern border and point of reference.
Bordering the Prati is the Vatican, home to the Pope and noted by the large dome of St. Peter's cathedral. To its north and northwest are the eponymous neighbourhoods, which are primarily residential. To its south is Trastevere, a vivacious hangout with Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere as its centre. Though Prati often feels a bit distant from the activity of the centre of Rome, it is actually a simple walk across a bridge to Campo Marzio and Centro.
Know your neighbours
Prati may be your best neighbourhood for getting to know Roman residents. The area is primarily residential with many local shops, businesses and schools. In general, there is limited tourist traffic to the neighbourhood as there are few, if any, historic monuments here. Pick any outdoor or covered market on any morning, you'll find yourself swapping hand gestures and chatting about the current political climate.
Prati has several niche shopping areas. Via Cola di Rienzo is always associated with big brands for clothing and house wares, though towards Piazza Risorgimento is a lovely Fascist-era covered food market. Via Candia has local shops for inexpensive shoes, undergarments, supermarkets and hardware stores. The large and very popular food market Trionfale is on Via Andrea Doria and is very popular with foodies. Via Giuseppe Ferrari and Piazza Mazzini have beautiful local shops for clothing and interior design as well as a selection of supermarkets, boutique food shops and cafés.
Prati may be on the ‘other side’ of the river, but it is this niche location that makes it efficiently linked to all areas of Rome, whether by foot, tram, bus or metro. From Prati, you can easily walk to the Vatican, Piazza del Popolo and historic centre. ATAC, Rome’s public transportation system, has extensive bus, tram and metro connections.
Buses 23, 81, 280, 271, 490, 492 connect to the Stadium, Ponte Milvio, Monte Mario, Centre, Testaccio, Janiculum, Piazza Venezia, Villa Borghese, and Tiburtina and Termini stations. Bus hubs can be found at Piazza Risorgimento and Piazza Cavour. Tram 19 in Piazza Risorgimento brings passengers to Villa Borghese and Nomentano, with links to Auditorium and San Lorenzo. Rome's metro Linea A (red line) has two stops in the Prati neighbourhood: Lepanto and Ottaviano - and is a direct line to Piazza di Spagna and Termini.
- With its reputation as a residential area, some are quick to write Prati off as anything but a local shopping destination. However, the neighbourhood has a cache of several very interesting museums, cafes and music clubs worth exploring.
Along the Tiber the Church of Sacro Cuore del Suffraggio has a very tiny "Museum of the Souls of Purgatory” where photos and handkerchiefs among other things are displayed with ‘signs’ from those in purgatory. Near Piazza Risorgimento is Profondo Rosso, shock director Dario Argento's Horror Museum. In that same area is the Historic Museum of the Arms of the Carabinieri – devoted to the military police’s munitions throughout its over 150 year history.
One of the best-kept secrets is that Prati is an enclave of amazing restaurants - traditional Roman and nouvelle cuisine alike.Near Piazza Cavour, there are several traditional restaurants like Pizzeria San Marco as well as l’Arcangelo, which puts a modern spin on Roman cuisine. The neighbourhood boasts three wonderful gelaterie (ice cream shops): Fatamorgana, Gracchi and Al Settimo Gelo. You will never be hungry again.
Depending on what time you’re going out, Prati has a busy nightlife and music scene. Early evening means aperitivi (cocktails) with buffet style antipasti at cafés like Mazzini and Antonini. Afterwards, most Romans usually head out for long dinners. Post dinner, you’ll find the scene moving to local pubs or jazz clubs. Bar Bar, The Place, Alexanderplatz and Fonclea all have live music evenings featuring all jazz genres.
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