Located about three miles south of the Colosseum, the Garbatella district is a hip oasis inside Rome. It constantly garners comparisons to the famed Montmartre district in Paris’s 18th arrondissement. Just like Montmartre, Garbatella has many hot performance venues, a vibrant arts scene and an eclectic array of restaurants. And like Montmartre, it feels like its own village even though it’s adjacent to the city center. Thankfully, Garbatella isn’t as popular as Montmartre, so you can enjoy this area without dealing with hordes of foreigners. At least for now… To experience contemporary Rome just far enough away from its touristy center, consider staying in this neighborhood.
A Bit of Wee Britain in La Bella Roma?
Interestingly, the UK had a great deal to do with Garbatella’s original design. During the 1920s, many Italian urban planners were inspired by Britain’s “Garden City” movement, which focused on creating livable, nature-filled areas for working-class people. For this reason, you’ll find many wonderful interconnected garden areas and courtyards sprinkled throughout the neighborhood. Even the district’s historic architecture, which is mostly based on the Baroque style, boasts charming details from the natural world.
Top Sights in Garbatella
As an up-in-coming center for the contemporary arts, Garbatella has some of Rome’s most dynamic street art and theaters. You’re bound to come across marvelous street murals that will stop you in your tracks. The most famous theater in this district is the Palladium Theatre, which hosts many film festivals, contemporary plays and live music events throughout the year. Although not as popular as the Palladium, the Ambra alla Garbatella is another vibrant performing-arts venue.
But Garbatella isn’t all about the contemporary arts. Indeed, there are major historical attractions here worthy of a visit. In fact, this area plays host to two extremely important sites in Christian history: the Catacombs of Commodilla (which has one of the first depictions of a bearded Christ) and the Basilica of St. Paul. If you want to see Roman antiquities here, then take a stroll through the Centrale Montemartini. Once a regional power plant, the Centrale Montemartini now houses glorious ancient statues, mosaics, and sarcophagi.
And if you came with an appetite, boy are you in luck. Rivaling perhaps only Trastevere in terms of foodie cachet, trendy, authentic and affordable eateries abound. Indeed, with few tourist traps, you’re almost guaranteed a good, honest meal here.
How to Find the Garbatella
Unsurprisingly, the closest metro stop to Garbatella is…Garbatella! A few local bus stops in the neighborhood include Carcereri, C.ne Ostiense/S. Galla, and Padre Giuliani.