An elegant enclave of cosmopolitan Rome, the Prati district east of the Vatican foregoes tourism in favour of an authentic, affluent Italian lifestyle. Business professionals and the Supreme Court building in Palazzo di Giustizia lend an aura of importance to Prati, but the real draw is high-end and chic shopping on Cola di Rienzo and Via Ottaviano.
Unlike central Rome, the sweeping boulevards of Prati are orderly and serene, even in popular gathering and dining spots along Viadei Gracchi. When the workday winds down, wine tasting and live music serenade the neighbourhood, along with lively trattorie, cosy pubs, and jazz and blues clubs. St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel are within walking distance, as is the extremely quirky Museo delle Anime dei Defunti along the riverfront.
Prati lies just north of the historical city centre of Rome, connected to all of the city’s convenient public transportation systems, including numerous bus routes and Metro subway system, which has several stops in Prati. Many tourists prefer renting a bicycle to explore the piazzas and tight alleyways connecting the main roads, as rentals are typically available near metro stations, including Stazione Termini, the main rail station in Rome. One of the region’s most prominent public markets, Mercato Trionfale, sits in the heart of Prati, within walking or cycling distance of most attractions.
In ancient Rome, the Prati district was far from urbanised, consisting of rolling meadows, vineyards and marshes extending for kilometres into the countryside. The vineyards were owned by Domizia, wife of Domiziano, and the area took the name of Prata Neronis, meaning Meadows of Nero. It eventually became the Prati of St. Peter in the Middle Ages and early hints of Prati’s current bourgeois tendencies emerged with the spread of opulent villas along the riverbanks, including the Villa Altoviti.