Piazza Farnese, Rome
Written by Erica Firpo
The side streets of Rome’s Piazza Farnese neighbourhood form the backbone of a charming local community of small businesses, boutiques, caffès, eateries, and history, all hiding in a busy metropolis.
Piazza Farnese has long been an oasis from the craziness of Campo de’ Fiori, its neighbouring square. “Piazza Farnese is the quintessential Renaissance palazzo – authentic and completely buffered from Campo,” explains archaeologist Darius Arya.
On Via di Monserrato, grab a window seat at Caffè Peru, a decades-old coffee bar where students, residents, shop owners, and neighbourhood clergy vie for the morning crema di caffè and a slice of homemade cake, then stop into the 17th-century church of San Girolamo della Carità for a peek at the Capella Spada’s gorgeous marble.
“There is so much art and history in this area – from the 3rd-century fountain basins in Piazza Farnese to Renaissance and baroque palaces – just walking it is incredible,” says Arya.
Via di Monserrato is also a gastronomic stroll. One of Rome’s best seafood restaurants, PierLuigi, with its innovative, fishy spin on Roman cuisine, is five minutes down the street in the charming Piazza de’ Ricci.
In another three minutes, you’re at a crossroads where the Mercantino Bio della Moretta, an organic market showcasing local produce and products, sets up every second and last Sunday of the month. An ancient Roman marker stone, pomerium cippus, marks the wall at no. 145.
Follow Via Banchi Vecchi and you’ll find Supplizio, a Roman street-food shop serving supplì (deep-fried rice balls) by noted chef Arcangelo Dandini, Enoteca Il Goccetto, a rustic neighbourhood wine bar that specialises in hard-to-find smaller labels, and Il Pagliaccio, the neighbourhood’s Michelin-starred restaurant.
The 500-year-old Via Banchi Vecchi was once Rome’s banking centre and is now home to several one-of-a-kind boutiques. Arya loves the intricate micro-mosaic cufflinks at Faraoni, can’t resist taking a photo of the detailed façade at Farmacia Celestina, and orders bespoke leather accessories at Cuoi e Pellami.
Darius Arya is a hands-on archaeologist and the Executive Director of Rome’s American Institute for Roman Culture, a not-for-profit organisation promoting Roman culture through heritage preservation, excavations, and academic programmes. Arya frequently appears as an expert presenter on documentary programmes, including the History Channel’s Ancient Impossible series and the Travel Channel’s upcoming Metropolis Rome episode.