Thinking local: The Aventine neighborhood


Claudia Smithie, Reporter, What's on in Rome section editor

A trendy get-away from the touristy streets of Rome, the Aventine neighborhood (the southernmost of Rome’s seven hills) boasts tasty restaurants, chic hotels, some lesser-known churches and absolutely stunning gardens. Italian cuisine can get repetitive, but luckily, in the Aventine, one can find a wide selection of Asian restaurants (including two Brazilian sushi places), a Gelateria with exotic flavors (among these are matcha tea and chocolate with pink Himalayan salt), and a fancy cafe with yummy French pastries. In regard to hotels, there is a boutique hotel called “The Corner” with a hipster bar on the terrace with fun cocktails and luxury rooms to stay in. A couple must-see sights are the famous Giardino Degli Aranci and the Basilica di Santa Sabina. The Orange Garden offers breathtaking views of the city, and if you go in the evening, you can take some artsy photos of the sunset – with almost everyone else in Rome doing the same thing! Just a few minutes away is the Keyhole of the Knights of Malta, in which you can see the three cities: Malta, Rome, and the Vatican’s St Peter Basilica. The line is long no matter when you visit, but it is definitely well worth the wait. Built around 425 A.D., the Basilica of Santa Sabina is one of Rome’s earliest churches; however, the interior is Renaissance, by the artist Borromini. Nearby are the renowned Circus Maximus and a magical rose garden that was established in 1931. Over 1000 varieties of roses grow there, constituting a wonderful selection of gifts from countries around the world. There is also the famous “Bocca della Verita”, or Mouth of Truth, that was featured in the everyone’s favourite – Roman Holiday – in the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, where you can take a picture of sticking your hand in the mouth! Last but not least, the Baths of Caracalla that are also located in the Aventine are considered the largest archeological ruin left in Rome, and the least visited. In the summer months, they host operas and ballets outside. The Aventine today is an elegant, stylish neighborhood which is gaining in popularity, even though in the Roman times it was considered the neighborhood of the plebeians. If you go visit the Aventine now, you will feel exactly like a local.