You may know something about the neighborhoods of Rome, but it also may surprise you that these aren’t official. The city is, in fact, split into a number of different numbered districts called rioni (rione is the singular form). The term has been utilized since the 14th century, and the Rioni of Rome system is actually used in several other Italian cities.
Rione as a word actually derives from the Latin word regiones – meaning “region” in English – which were the 14 sub-divisions of Rome created by Emperor Augustus in 7 BC. The system was not political but was used for administrative purposes.
When the Renaissance rolled around, Rome underwent much reorganization including that of the rioni of Rome system, which was to be more stringently outlined with official borders for each one. Over the following years different rioni of Rome came and went; various Popes had their say, while even Napoleon had an impact, splitting the city into eight parts.
When Rome became the capital of the newly united Italy in the late 19th-century, the city became even more urbanized. The population boomed. In the early 20th-century, Rome expanded beyond the old Aurelian Walls, with new rioni added and others being split up. There currently are 22 rioni of Rome, each with its own name and with a Roman number to refer to them.
Seeing Rome via its rioni rather than the usual “traditional” neighborhoods can offer a different insight into the city. Here are all the rioni in Rome for you to explore, all in order, from I to XXII.
You should also read my post The Most Charming Neighborhoods Of Rome.
The Rioni Of Rome
Rione I Monti
The first of the rioni of Rome is named Monti, meaning “mountains” in English. That’s because the rione actually encompasses the Esquiline Hill, the Viminal Hills and the Quirinal Hill – three of the Seven Hills of Rome. Here you’ll find narrow, winding streets that are perfect for exploring on foot, as well as a hunger inducing food scene.
There’s also a long list of historic sights to see in Monti, some of them veritable icons of Rome. These include the Domus Aurea (Nero’s former palace), the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, the Church of St Peter in Chains and the Arch of Gallieno.
Head over to my post A Guide To Rione Monti, Rome: 9 Best Places To Visit.
You should also read my posts A Guide To The Quirinal Hill, Rome and Rome’s Viminal Hill: 7 Best Places To Visit On The Viminale.
Rione II Trevi
Bordering Monti is Rione II Trevi. While the origin of the name is unknown, it’s thought that an ancient intersection of three streets gives Trevi – both the rione and the fountain – its name. Of course, it’s here that you’ll find the famed Trevi fountain, which brings daily crowds to throw coins in its storied waters.
But away from the tourist hotspots, there are some great wanderings to be had. Sights here include the art-filled Palazzo Barberini, Piazza Barberini (where you’ll find fountains by master architect and sculptor Bernini) and the Palazzo del Quirinale, which is the official residence of Italy’s president.
You may want to read my post What You Need to Know About The Trevi Fountain, Rome.
Rione III Colonna
The third rione, Colonna, takes up much of the historic center of Rome and takes its name from the towering column dedicated to Marcus Aurelius, still standing after almost two millennia. It’s just one of the numerous historic sites and institutions to be found in Colonna, namely Palazzo Chigi, Piazza Colonna and Galleria Alberto Sordi.
The district, divided in two by the upscale Via del Corso, exudes an elegant air, and has many easily walkable streets and ample shopping opportunities. It’s a good place to base yourself if you want to be in a particularly bustling and high-end part of the city.
Rione IV Campo Marzio
This Rome district was known as Campo Marzo until Napoleon actually changed its name to Campo Marzio in the early 19th century. Already in the early Middle Ages, this was one of the most densely populated rioni of Rome. During the Renaissance, however, it underwent a transformation with churches and noble palaces being built in the district.
Rione IV features a number of interesting monuments and buildings, and chances are you’ll find yourself in Campo Marzio at some point during your trip. It’s home to the Trinità dei Monti and Piazza di Spagna (which foreigners refer to as the Spanish Steps), the Keats-Shelley Museum, the Ara Pacis, as well as many shopping streets.
For more information, read my post A Short Guide To The Spanish Steps, Rome.
Rione V Ponte
Ponte, the fifth rione, is named after the Ponte Sant’Angelo, the famous bridge covered in angel statues that connects Rome to the Vatican City. There’s a lot of history in this Rione, but because of a population boom in the Middle Ages, many of its ancient structures disappeared (or were recycled).
Due to its location close to Vatican City, it has historically been a district busy with pilgrims. That can still be seen to this day, thanks to the number of inns and restaurants, and religious iconography, associated with the route through Ponte to the Vatican. In fact, the Via dei Coronari has many old shops, some dating back to the 16th century.
Rione VI Parione
Most famous, perhaps, for being home to the storied Piazza Navona, Rione VI Parione is also simply a crucial historic segment of Rome. Among the many sights here, you’ll find the bustling Campo de’ Fiori, with its market and nightlife, as well as the fun “talking statue” of Pasquino, situated in a piazza of the same name.
Piazza Navona is the destination for many travelers who find themselves in Parione. As well as being a beautiful Renaissance-era square, it’s also the location of Bernini’s famed Fountain of the Four Rivers.
Head over to my post A Short Guide To Piazza Navona, Rome.
Rione VII Regola
The laid-back district of Regola is a very local slice of Rome. Here you can wander cobbled streets edged by centuries-old buildings, decorated with flower boxes and trailing greenery. It’s a pretty, lesser-explored portion of the city that definitely deserves a wander.
Tucked along the Tiber, it’s here that you’ll find the Renaissance-era street Via Giulia, home to numerous noble palaces, including Palazzo Farnese and Galleria Spada, where you’ll find Borromini’s famous forced perspective arcade.
Via Giulia, however, is better known for its various antique shops (and for being impossibly picturesque, too). Shopping opportunities continue along Via dei Cappellari, with artisanal boutiques, vintage stores and antique shops.
Check out my post A Quick Guide To Palazzo Spada, Rome.
Rione VIII Sant’Eustachio
Rione VIII is a long slither of a district that’s wedged between Ponte, Pigna, Colonna and Regola – all of which are stacked with historic monuments and tourist sights. Sant’Eustachio, as the eighth rione is called, doesn’t necessarily have a lot in the way of sights, but it’s still worth a wander.
For one thing, there’s the eponymous Church of Sant’Eustachio, designed by Borromini between 1642 and 1660, and which is part of La Sapienza (one of the Universities of Rome). The Palazzo Madama – today the seat of the Italian Senate – was built in 1505 on the orders of the Medici family. There’s also the Church of Sant’Andrea della Valle with its ornate frescoes and impressive dome.
Rione IX Pigna
Rome’s ninth rione, dubbed Pigna, is a picturesque part of the city. Its name means “pine cone” in English, and you’ll see evidence of its use as a symbol of the district in the form of a giant bronze pine cone that overlooks the Fontana della Pigna.
But it’s certainly not a pinecone that Pigna is most famous for. Not at all. Pigna is the location of the Pantheon, making it arguably one of the most visited rioni of Rome. Once a temple to Roman gods (nobody is quite sure which ones), today the ancient Pantheon is actually a Catholic Church. The square in which the Pantheon is located, the Piazza della Rotonda, is a vibrant hang-out for tourists and locals alike.
Elsewhere you’ll find the Galleria Doria Pamphilj and the Piazza della Minerva, home to the Santa Maria Sopra Minerva church.
You should also read my post A Guide To Visiting The Pantheon, Rome.
Rione X Campitelli
You’ve probably never heard of Campitelli, but you’ve definitely heard of some of the ancient monuments that it hosts across the Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum and the Capitoline Hill. Numerous Roman-era palaces and temples dot the area, making it a fascinating district for history buffs.
But the 10th rione saw much change between the 19th and 20th century, with reconstruction under the Fascist government – particularly in regards to creating the controversial Altar of the Fatherland, the monument to Vittorio Emanuele II.
Make sure to also read my post A Guide To Visiting The Roman Forum, Rome.
Rione XI Sant’Angelo
Sant’Angelo is the smallest of all of the Rioni of Rome. Lying along the course of the River Tiber, near Tiber Island, it’s a flat, low-lying district that has historically seen frequent flooding from Rome’s great river.
Most infamously, however, Sant’Angelo was once home to the Roman Ghetto. The Jewish ghetto was established here in 1555, and was where Rome’s Jewish population were forcibly moved. There were walls and gates locked up at night in order to control the Jewish population of Rome, which is thought to be one of the oldest in the world outside of the Middle East.
The district still has a strong Jewish identity. It’s here that you’ll find the Great Synagogue of Rome, and a handful of eateries serving traditional Roman Kosher fare. Other sights in the area include the Roman-era Portico of Octavia, Piazza Morgana and Piazza Mattei, the location of Bernini’s Fontana delle Tartarughe.
Head over to my post A Curated Guide To The Jewish Ghetto Rome.
Rione XII Ripa
Rione XII Ripa is bordered on one side by the River Tiber, and it’s the river that makes up a large portion of this rione’s personality. It encompasses Tiber Island, and the bridges connecting to it, one of which is Rome’s oldest bridge – Pons Fabricius – built in 62 BC and still standing after more than 2,000 years.
Sitting between the Aventine and Palatine Hills, the district of Ripa also plays host to one of Rome’s most iconic sights: the Circus Maximus. Once a venue for chariot racing and festivals, little remains of the oldest and largest of Rome’s ancient arenas, but today it still plays host to summer festivals. Oh, and something else located in Ripa is the famed Mouth of Truth.
Don’t forget to read my post A Guide To The Tiber Island / Isola Tiberina, Rome.
Rione XIII Trastevere
Trastevere is Rome’s 13th rione and well known for its working class roots. Today it’s a popular night spot, strewn with cool bars, bohemian eateries and old-school trattorie – all tucked away down cobbled lanes and in ivy-clad buildings. With a name translating to “Across the Tiber”, there is certainly a different feeling on this side of the river.
The main attractions here are the churches of Santa Maria in Trastevere and Santa Cecilia in Trastevere.
One of the plus sides of this fashionable area is the historic areas where you’ll be wandering around are mainly car free. That means the people are free to enjoy strolling around, soaking up the ambience, without having to worry about Rome’s otherwise hectic traffic.
You should also read my post A Short Guide To Trastevere, Rome.
Rione XIV Borgo
Situated between the Vatican and the River Tiber, Borgo – the 14th Rione – is a neighbor to the microstate of the Vatican City itself. It’s here that you’ll find the Castel Sant’Angelo: the ancient tomb of Emperor Hadrian turned Renaissance fortress.
The district’s connection to the Vatican has shaped its streets. The Passetto, a secret passageway leading from the Castel Sant’Angelo to the Vatican City, passes through Borgo. Many people who go on pilgrimage to the Vatican travel through here, and many church officials reside in the area. This makes Borgo a quiet but interesting district.
You should also read my post A Guide To Visiting Castel Sant’Angelo Rome.
Rione XV Esquilino
Rome’s 15th Rione is one you may have heard of. Esquilino is one of the largest rioni of Rome, and is richly diverse in terms of history, shopping, residential streets and transport; after all, Rome Termini station is situated here. It’s also a cosmopolitan district, and home to many of Rome’s immigrant communities.
Things to see in Esquilino include sights such as Piazza Vittorio, featuring the ruins of a monumental fountain, and the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. There’s also modern shopping to be done in the contemporary mall situated underneath Termini station (great if you want to escape the heat of summer!).
Rione XVI Ludovisi
Ludovisi is known for being home to one of Rome’s most famous (and most expensive) streets, Via Veneto. It was made famous by the glitterati of the 1950s and 1960s, and featured heavily in Fellini’s well known 1960 film La Dolce Vita. The glamor of the street’s heyday may have faded slightly, but the district as a whole remains elegant and luxurious.
Here you’ll find 5-star hotels, glitzy cocktail bars and tree-lined streets. It’s not particularly known for its historic sights, but the Piazza Barberini is found on its borders with the rione of Trevi; the Bernini fountains, Fontana del Tritone and Fontana delle Api, are situated in this storied piazza.
Rione XVII Sallustiano
The name of Rome’s quiet Rione XVII is taken from the Gardens of Sallust, part of an ancient Roman estate created by the historian Sallust in the 1st century BC. Today those gardens may no longer exist, but many timeworn monuments were uncovered during urbanization of the 20th century.
Historically, Sallustiano was part of Trevi and was sparsely populated, owing to its collection of many large villas. It still retains much of that leafy, affluent charm today, and features sights such as the Santa Maria della Vittoria church, home to Bernini’s impressive sculpture the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, and the Fontana dell’acqua Felice, fed by an ancient aqueduct.
Rione XVIII Castro Pretorio
Rione XVIII (18th) is Castro Pretorio. This northeastern slice of the city is a busy, tourist-heavy area. It’s also something of a multicultural hub where you’ll find lots of different languages and cultures living side by side.
The district actually takes its name from an ancient Roman barrack (castra) called the Castra Praetoria. There’s a number of cultural sites and museums to explore here, including the Museo Nazionale Romano, the Baths of Diocletian, Piazza della Repubblica, Via Nazionale and the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (designed by Michelangelo).
Rione XIX Celio
Rome’s 19th rione is one of the oldest districts of Rome, but the rione itself wasn’t created until 1921, taking in part Monti and Campitelli. Although it boasts sites of historic significance, the Colosseum among them, the borough was scarcely inhabited since antiquity and has more recent roots as a working-class area.
Celio is also known for its nightlife, not to mention Rome’s LGBTQ+ scene, as well as its culinary credentials. It’s also a popular place for tourists to base themselves due to its proximity to the Colosseum and a number of other historic sights including the Basilica di San Clemente, Arch of Dolabella and Silanus, and the ancient houses of Roman houses of the Caelian Hill.
Don’t forget to read my post A Guide To The Caelian Hill, Rome.
Rione XX Testaccio
Testaccio is historically one of the working class districts of Rome that continues to stay true to its roots. Taking its name from the Monte Testaccio, in antiquity what is now the 20th rione is where trade from the River Tiber took place.
The evidence of this historic trade can be seen to this day in what remains of the innumerable broken clay amphorae that make up the artificial (but ancient) Monte Testaccio, which even features restaurants and bars embedded in it.
The district underwent much industrial urbanization in the 1870s. Previous to that, it was mainly home to lower class farmers and shepherds. Testaccio has a strong identity that remains to this day, even with gastronomic gentrification and increased popularity among tourists.
Things to see in this fun part of the city are the Protestant Cemetery, the Pyramid of Cestius and the hill itself, more popularly known as Monte dei Cocci.
Make sure to also read my post The Best Guide To Testaccio, Rome.
Rione XXI San Saba
The 21st of the Rioni of Rome, San Saba is named after the Basilica of San Saba (located in the district itself, of course). The church and its connecting buildings were, for many centuries, the only populated part of this once-rural district. Urbanization took place in the early 20th century, with public housing complexes and clerical buildings constructed.
San Saba can be found atop Aventine Hill, meaning it’s quite hilly, an undulating part of the city. At its center you’ll find Piazza Gian Lorenzo Bernini, named after the Baroque sculptor himself and boasting a village-like atmosphere thanks to its church, market, schools and local shops.
Historic sights include the Baths of Caracalla, which were built in 212 AD and were in operation until the 530s, when they fell into disuse. Today the Baths play host to open-air concerts in the summer.
Head over to my post A Short Guide To Visiting The Baths Of Caracalla, Rome.
Rione XXII Prati
Unlike Borgo and Ponte, which have a connection to the Vatican due to the pilgrims passing through the districts, Prati – not being on the pilgrim trail – has a distinct upscale, playful atmosphere despite being so close to the Vatican. It was added to the Rioni of Rome’s roster in 1921.
Prati is a high-end part of the city. Here you’ll find designer stores and sprawling piazzas. At the same time, however, you’ll also find a number of down-to-earth eateries and cafes to sample during your exploration of the district. Sights to see here include Via Cola di Rienzo, famous for its shopping, and Piazza Cavour (home to Italy’s Supreme Court).