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Rione Monti is the oldest district in Rome and the reason why its name means “mountains” is that 4 ouf of 7 Roman hills (Quirinale, Viminale, Esquilino and a part of Celio) are in this area.
If you reach this fascinating district by subway (LINE B) getting off at CAVOUR station, you will be attracted by the several wine bars, vintage markets and old workshops scattered in Rione Monti. This area is well known by young people for its nightlife. In Piazza Madonna dei Monti it is very common to find boys and girls from all corners of the world having a beer around the fountain. It’s without a doubt one of the most cosmopolitan areas in Rome and it is very close to the city center.
In the past the area was called “Suburra” and it was considered a poor and dangerous area, full of disreputable locals and brothels. It was densely populated and Julius Caesar, who wasn’t a member of a noble family, was born here. The area was divided from the Roman Forum through a high wall, whose parts are nowadays visible from the Forum of Augustus.
Walking along via Cavour you can find a mysterious staircase that leads to the Church of Saint Peter in Chains. The staircase was the stage of many different political murders in history, like the sixth king of Rome, Servius Tullius, who was killed by his daughter in 535 BF. The only ivy-covered balcony which protrudes over the staircase belonged to the house where Alexander VI Pope’s lover lived with their sons in the 17th century.
On the top of the stairs in the Church of Saint Peter in Chains you can admire “the Moses”, the huge sculptured tomb commissioned to Michelangelo by Pope Julius II. Legend says that Michelangelo, after completing the sculpture, asked Moses the reason why it didn’t speak, hitting the statue’s knee with his chisel.
“The Moses” started shining again since January thanks to the last restoration that introduced a new light system which makes the statue appear more natural and realistic.
So what are you waiting for? Have a break listening to live music in a bohemian wine bar and let yourself be seduced by centuries-old history in Rione Monti!