Our Favorite Neighborhoods to Stay in Rome and Milan

Written by Rem Malloy, since 1995 Rem has been guiding and designing trips to Italy and all of Western Europe and is considered an expert in his field for over 30 years.

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Best neighborhoods in Rome and Milan

Which are your favorite best neighborhoods to stay when visiting Rome and Milan? Both cities offer beautiful sights, historical attractions, incredible shopping, amazing food and so much more, but the neighborhoods are what truly define them.

Location is everything. Getting yourself familiar with the different areas of each city will help you in planning your trip. If you need help with this, here’s a list of some of our favorite neighborhoods to stay in two of Italy’s most popular destinations.  

Rome: The Eternal City 

Rome is one of the most beautiful places in all of Italy. No other part of the country is such a unique mismatch of ancient history and architectural styles, and every street has its own story no matter where you are in The Eternal City.

There are eighteen different districts in Rome, and each of these has its own unique character and attractions. Whether you’re looking for a place to stay or just want to find somewhere beautiful to take some unforgettable holiday photos, finding the most scenic neighborhood in Rome is a priority for many travelers. 

Here’s our list of 5 scenic and unique neighborhoods to visit, stay and admire.

TRASTEVERE

When searching for the best districts of Rome, Trastevere is a neighborhood that you might hear recommended most of all. Historically, a primarily working-class neighborhood, more recently Trastevere has become one of the trendier, more bohemian districts. It’s definitely one of the most scenic, with historic architecture and an authentic atmosphere. 

You’ll find plenty of nightlife, with bars that are open until the early hours of the evening. During the day, you’ll find it to be a quiet and beautiful part of Rome that is always bustling with as many locals as tourists.

MONTI

Monti is one of the oldest residential neighborhoods in Rome. You’ll find winding cobblestone streets, classic orange buildings and the Colosseum is only a short walk away, providing tons of opportunities to take some seriously stunning photos.

There’s quite a young crowd enjoying the restaurants, cafes and shopping in the range of boutiques nestled amidst the narrow streets. If you’re looking for somewhere to experience authentic Italian cafe culture, this is the ideal place. 

If you’re after an arty and bohemian atmosphere then Monti is one of the best districts, with its quaint little streets and close-knit local community. 

Best neighborhoods to stay in Rome

PIGNETO

The trendy neighborhood of Pigneto is full of scenic spots. While there is a mix of old and new architecture, more places are being converted into everything from cafes to co-working spaces to appeal to the younger crowd. 

In Pigneto, you’ll find many ‘Instagrammable’ places to dine, whether you’re looking for authentic Italian cuisine or something a bit different. The nightlife is also great, with a mixture of quirky little bars and live music venues offering a truly unforgettable experience.

Sometimes referred to as the ‘Brooklyn of Rome, Pigneto has inspired plenty of creatives who have visited and it is the perfect place to enjoy a different side of Rome from the classic, tourist-dominated neighborhoods.

TRIDENTE

Tridente is one of Rome’s most scenic neighborhoods because of the range of famous tourist attractions and sightseeing destinations, such as the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps.

This is also a brilliant neighborhood if you’re a fan of shopping, as most of Rome’s designer boutiques can be found in Tridente. Whether you’re after a Gucci handbag, a pair of Prada sunglasses or are just doing some window shopping, it’s the place to be if you’re seeking glamorous holiday souvenirs.

Tourists tend to flock to Tridente because of its proximity to popular sites in Rome, which means that the range of accommodation options and restaurants is brilliant. Even if the atmosphere isn’t as authentic as some of the other places around the city, the nearby attractions make it an ideal area if it’s your first time in this part of Italy.

PARIOLI

If natural beauty and a peaceful, romantic atmosphere is your kind of thing, Parioli might just be your top choice. This district is home to the iconic Villa Borghese park; the best place in the city to enjoy a pleasant stroll or a picnic when the weather is sunny.

Parioli has been considered a pretty affluent part of the city and remains a largely picturesque district that offers a quieter alternative to some areas in the middle of the city. Parioli is also an up-and-coming gastronomic destination for top-rated, independent restaurants and artisanal food shops.

The Parioli neighborhood  is home to the iconic Villa Borghese park.

Milan: Italy’s Most Sophisticated City

As one of the world’s fashion capitals, Milan is home to some of the best shopping destinations in Europe. It also has some of the world’s best museums, historical attractions, and so much more!

The city spreads outward in concentric circles, with the Piazza Duomo and its imposing cathedral and historic shopping galleria in the middle. Most of the touristic activities, along with some museums and art galleries, are also found nearby. Getting around Milan on foot is easy, as the city is mostly flat and of manageable size.

Here’s a list of some of neighborhoods you might want to consider. 

NAVIGLI

The bustling Navigli district is the best area of Milan if you are here for the nightlife. Located close to two canals and a dock, Navigli is usually quiet during the day but can get very busy at night after the sun goes down. 

Historically, canals around Navigli were used for trade but today they are lined with restaurants and bars that spill out onto the pavements. There’s also a weekend market every Saturday known as the Fiera di Senigallia flea market, which is a great place to experience the local way of living while also checking out the various stalls selling everything from antiques to bikes and second-hand items.

Navigli has a casual and relaxed vibe. Here, you will find cozy cafes tucked in hidden corners, artsy boutiques, and some lovely bookshops. It’s also close to IULM and the Catholic University, which explains why this district is often filled with students. 

Aside from the affordable rental prices, the area has various public transportation options and vintage clothing stores selling cheap clothes. If you want to experience the authentic Milanese way of life while also enjoying the nightlife of the Milan suburbs, Navigli is a great place to base yourself.

Best neighborhoods to stay in Milan.

PORTA VENEZIA

Porta Venezia is a famous hangout spot for the artistic community and one of Milan’s best places to stay. You will find several art galleries and museums here, including the Galleria d’Arte Moderna and Padiglione D’Arte Contemporanea.

Surrounded by a beautiful park, the Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli, Porta Venezia has a pretty romantic vibe. Despite its proximity to the Duomo, Porta Venezia is not too crowded, since most tourists often bypass this neighborhood. Therefore, if you choose to stay in this area, you can expect peace and quiet, despite being close to the city centre.

The area is also home to beautiful churches and parks and some of Milan’s best gelato shops. If you are looking for affordable places to stay while being close to the top attractions in the city, Porta Venezia is a great neighborhood to consider. And since it has several parks and open spaces, this neighborhood is also an excellent choice for families

PORTA ROMANA

Porta Romana is a beautiful residential area that’s only a few public transport stops away from the city centre. It’s also right beside Navigli, giving you easy access to Milan’s best nightlife spots. 

This neighborhood stands out because of its immaculately kept avenues lined with fashion showrooms, fancy restaurants, and prominent residential buildings. The other side of the neighborhood is home to crafty markets and bars and a favourite hangout spot of the yuppie crowd.

Compared to other Milan districts, Porta Romana is cheaper to live in and is perfect for those travelling on a budget. There’s a thriving community of young professionals here, as it is close to several co-working spaces. Since it’s in proximity to Bocconi University and Catholic University, the place is also often filled with university students. 

The neighborhood is divided into two, with the upscale apartments concentrated on one side and affordable residential housing on the other side. There are also several boutique hotels in this neighborhood, which offer the best accommodation options for tourists of all kinds. Here, you will be close to the Duomo and other famous attractions in Milan.

Since it’s considered a university neighborhood, you can expect a young hipster element in this district. When staying in Porta Romana, check out the art displays at Fondazione Prada and grab a few drinks at the Plastic Nightclub. 

CENTRO STORICO

If you want to be in the middle of the action, Centro Storico is the best place to stay. Although the neighborhood is often crowded with tourists, if you have limited time in Milan and want to stay in a place where you will have easy access to the best attractions in the city, then Centro Storico is the best place to stay. 

Aside from the Duomo, Palazzo Reale and the Museo del Novecento are both also located nearby. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, another popular attraction in the city, is right next to this neighborhood.

If you are coming to Milan for fashion week, this is the perfect place to base yourself. The area hosts several fashion shows and catwalks during fashion week, and the streets are often packed with models and celebrities. But, as expected, prices here are a bit steep.

SAN LORENZO

Located south of Duomo Cathedral, San Lorenzo is a small, quiet neighborhood within the city center offering easy access to the Duomo and other famous attractions, such as the ancient columns of Piazza San Lorenzo. If you want to be close to the historic center of Milan and are willing to pay a premium price, this neighborhood would be ideal. 

Dubbed the most romantic neighborhood of Milan, San Lorenzo is a popular gathering place for lovers on a date and those out to meet with some friends. You will find a small number of hostels and boutique hotels in this area, especially along Corso di Porta Ticinese. This lovely street is lined with several local shops, impressive street arts, and some of the city’s best restaurants serving top-notch Milanese cuisines.

Rome and Milan are both cities with so much to discover and it is well worth taking the time to visit some of the less-talked about neighborhoods to enjoy the beautiful architecture, incredible sights and unique character.

If you’re planning a trip to Rome and/or Milan and would like expert advice on where to stay and what to do, Italy4Real can help you plan an unforgettable experience. We look forward to hearing from you.

About the Author

Rem Malloy started Italy4real back in 1995 with his mother, Deborah de Maio.

He specialises in Italian tours as well as customised tours to France, England, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Greece and Spain. He was also featured in the Travel Channel show Mysteries at The Museum in 2016.

Rem has family in Italy and his mothers home town is Cava di Terrani, near the Amalfi Coast. The family has a street named after them in Sorrento, Via Luigi de Maio; a relative who was mayor of Sorrento.

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