Alternative things to do in Rome
When in Rome, do as the Romans do…or so the saying goes. Beyond the ancient Roman sights of The Colosseum and the Pantheon, you’ll encounter a sea of quirky neighbourhoods, trendy boutiques and intriguing markets offering visitors a more modern Roman experience. Follow in the footsteps of the city’s in-the-know locals with this two-day alternative itinerary and discover another side to the Eternal City.
Begin your day with a 20-minute drive into the heart of Via del Pigneto.
Via del Pigneto
Innovative eats, live music, street art; all this and more can be found in Via del Pigneto, a stylish enclave to the south-east of the city centre. Dubbed the ‘Brooklyn of Rome’, the former working-class suburb has been gentrified with hip bars, trendy cafés and quirky boutiques. When in Rome, it’s certainly worth exploring, even just for the window shopping.
Stay in Via del Pigneto to seek out Birra Più.
Birra Più (or Beer +) is a craft beer shop and bar set up by local beer enthusiasts to bring craft brews to the capital from across Europe (predominantly Germany, Italy and the UK). Pick up a few bottles to take home or sample a selection of draft beers and ales on tap in the bar. For those who prefer something a little stronger, the store also stocks a variety of whiskies.
Then, take a 15-minute drive to meet your tour guide in Quadraro.
Famous for its striking graffiti murals, Rome’s Quadraro neighbourhood attracts art lovers from far and wide. Get the most out of it on a walking tour with MURo (The Museum of Urban Art of Rome) and discover the stories behind the often-provocative works painted by artists from around the world, such as Zelda Bomba from France, Malo Farfan from Mexico, Dilkabear from Kazakhstan, and Rome native Diavù.
To reach the next destination, take a 20-minute drive.
While Rome is full of restaurants, get an alternative view of the Roman food scene at Testaccio Market. The popular indoor market, open Monday to Saturday until 3.30pm, sells everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to meats and cheeses, with stalls serving up local delicacies to sample as you shop.
Hail a taxi for the 10-minute ride to the final stop of the day, Garbatella.
A maze of courtyards, piazzas and hidden gardens, Garbatella is one of Rome’s most unique and intriguing neighbourhoods. Explore the picturesque suburb to discover charming architecture that hasn’t been touched in years, inspiring street art, and a popular farmers’ market. Dine in one of the neighbourly, shabby-chic trattorias serving family recipes passed down through the generations.
Finish the day with a 20-minute drive back to the hotel.
Start the day with a 10-minute drive to Sciascia Caffè.
For a morning pick-me-up, head straight to Sciascia Caffè, an elegant café specialising in artisan coffee. A local institution, stop by for a quick espresso or sit back and relax with a foamy cappuccino and soak up the atmosphere. With no obvious signage outside, look for the ‘Negozio Storico’ (historic shop) sign in the window.
Next, take a 20-minute drive back into the city centre.
A stone’s throw from the Colosseum is the bohemian neighbourhood of Monti. A prime alternative shopping destination, Monti is home to countless vintage clothing boutiques and multi-brand concept stores filled with the creations of local designers. There are also a number of homely enotecas (wine bars) and hip cafés where you can rest your feet before continuing your explorations.
To reach the next location, take a 10-minute drive.
Max & Jò Barber Shop
Prepare for a night on the town with a shave or cut at Max & Jò Barber Shop, a local favourite since opening in 1990. Maintaining the ambience of a classic barbershop that’s so on-trend in the ‘hipster’ community, the shop’s hair and beard treatments are performed by suited-and-booted barbers wearing waistcoats and bow ties.
Take a short five-minute walk to Cantina e Cucina.
Cantina e Cucina
Located on a quaint side street around the corner from the famous Piazza Navona, Cantina e Cucina is a local culinary delight, popular with both residents and visitors to Rome. Unlike its neighbours, many of which offer al fresco pavement dining and upscale décor, this traditional pizzeria lets the food do the talking. Enjoy a flavoursome selection of fresh pasta, pizza and Italian wine in a charming, rustic atmosphere that’s ideal for a romantic dinner.
Walk for five minutes to reach the final stop.
Jerry Thomas Speakeasy
Walk down the inconspicuous Via Cellini and you probably won’t realise you’ve passed one of Rome’s best bars. Jerry Thomas Speakeasy is the brainchild of mixology legend Jerry Thomas, and is reminiscent of a prohibition era speakeasy with expertly crafted cocktails, a cosy ambience and a notoriously difficult entry policy. Bookings are essential – find the password by answering a question hidden on the website homepage.
To get back to the hotel, it’s a 15-minute drive.
All journey times are approximate and subject to variation.