Visiting the Vatican: Book Tickets & Tours

Places to see

Prati, an elegant district beside the Vatican


A full guide to Prati

Visiting the Vatican City allows the visitor to discover not only this marvellous Pontifical city but also other neighbouring districts of Rome. Prati is one of them. Stately, elegant and with a certain hint of expansive Barcelonese or Parisian style. A Rome where chaos is put aside and the chicest of fashionable establishments are dotted along the streets.

Prati has a very intriguing past. It could be named as one of the youngest areas of central Rome, as construction didn’t begin there until 1883. Up to then, as the name suggests, the area housed fields. In fact, in centurion times this area housed the vine and cane plantations belonging to Dominizia, Emperor Domiziano’s wife. As was the case with many cities in the rest of Europe, Rome underwent an expansion process and Prati was the place chosen for this expansion. If visitors carefully study the urban layout they will see that it is very different to that of the rest of the city. Here, the avenues are wide and the streets all have broad pavements and chamfered corners on Liberty-style buildings with plenty of shopfronts.

What to see in Prati

Next to the Castel San’tAngelo there is a building that catches everyone’s attention. Grandiose, imposing and extravagantly adorned, it is the Palazzo di Giustizia, home to the Court of cassation. It was one of the most grandiose constructions following Rome’s proclamation as capital city of the Italian kingdom at the beginning of the 20th century. The colossal building occupies almost two blocks or isole of the Prati district. The main façade is overlooks the Tiber river and the back faces Piazza Cavour, another of the area’s places of interest. In its central garden, designed by Nicodemo Severini in 1895, there is a statue of Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, an important politician in the complicated times of pre-Unification in Italy who held the post of president of the council of ministers in 1852.

Life is calm on this square, it’s an ideal place to take a seat on a bench and simply watch the world go by. Around it, we find the Waldesian Evangelical Church, the Adriano movie theatre and other less important buildings that lend a provincial air to this pretty square.

What to do in Prati

There are a number of streets branching out from Piazza Cavour that lead directly to the heart of this district on which the vertiginous pace of Roman life is put aside. Taking Vía Cicerone and walking for 7 minutes we reach Via Cola di Rienzo, one of the most commercial streets in Rome where, however, there are few tourists and a pleasant morning’s shopping is guaranteed. The street houses a few members of large chains but is also home to traditional local Prati businesses such as bookshops, linen shops or tobacconists where the scent of menthol tobacco will take you back to another time.

One of the best ice-cream parlours in Rome is at the end of this street closest to the Tiber. La Romana (Via Cola Di Rienzo, 2) is a paradise full of sweet treats and anyone with a sweet tooth really must pay a visit.

Where to eat

Prati has plenty of trattorias and elegant restaurants serving varied gastronomy. Along its streets there are very fashionable places where, for example, the best sushi can be found to make a change from the usual type of meal. If, however, what you want is traditional Italian cuisine then you must definitely visit the Osteria Centouno (Via Fabio Massimo, 101) or il Palazzacio (Via Ennio Quirino Visconti, 66). If, meanwhile, you would like to enjoy the best aperitifs in the city in sophisticated surroundings with chandeliers and spacious lounges, the Antico caffe Ruschena (Lungotevere dei Mellini, 1) is ideal. Italian movie directors such as Fellini, Mastroiani and Sordi have all sat its tables.

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