It is the oldest residential neighbourhood of the city, a small district set between the two wide roads of Via Cavour and Via Nazionale, and defined by the Forum of Augustus and the church of Santa Maria Maggiore.
One of the most popular and beautiful areas of Rome, Monti retains a bohemian edge, and has become a rewarding neighbourhood for alternative fashion, gourmet and street food.
The quarter, located in the very centre of the city, dates back to the ancient time of Forum Romanum. Back then, it was a densely populated region where the poorest citizens lived.
The history of the district
In Ancient Roman times, Monti was called Suburra - “Sub Urbe”, i.e. under the city – and was where the not-so reputable characters lived. During that time a huge wall was built to block the sight of the slums from the Forum, and a large chunk of this wall still exists behind the Forum of Augustus.
In medieval times, Monti was densely populated, and earned the name Monti for being the spot where three hills of Rome converge: the Esquiline, Quirinal and Viminal.
The Imperial Forum
It represents Rome's first major urban expansion of public areas beyond the Forum - most importantly the Forum of Caesar, Forum of Augustus, and Forum of Trajan.
As Imperial Rome began outgrowing its Roman Forum core, the Imperial Forums were built by a succession of emperors (starting with Julius Caesar) in ambitious bouts of urban expansion that provided for the populace, curried favour with the elite, and improved the city infrastructure all at the same time.
Among the historical treasures of this quarter, the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, founded in the 4th century, is one of the five great ancient basilicas of Rome. Its 18th-century exterior conceals one of the best-preserved Byzantine interiors in the city.
In the quaint church of San Pietro in Vincoli, there is one of the greatest masterpieces of Italian art, Michelangelo's Moses, an example of superb craftsmanship and incomparable beauty.
Piazza della Madonna dei Monti
With its beautiful fountain that dates back to the 16th century, it is the heart of the Monti area.
As you walk, stunning views of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore burst out at you from Via Panisperna, and endless ivy walls and ancient relics reflect a Rome from long ago, but never lost.
Monti’s character shines from every street, a trendy village, old and new, both classic and chic at once. If you walk around the streets at night, the mixture of peace, vibrancy and history make this place truly magical.
RESTAURANTS & SHOPS
This charming quarter is frequented by locals who mill the streets and the sidewalks; they fill the piazzas, the gourmet food shops and slow food restaurants that line the same streets.
At night, excellent wine bars throng with customers enjoying their cosy and welcoming atmospheres.
A network of small merchants and artisans have still managed to keep their businesses here, thus lending the scene a sense of history, taking us back into the Rome of the past.
Typical gilders' shops and carpentry workshops, blacksmiths and junk dealers embellish these small streets, along with temporary vintage markets and art galleries.