Rome’s peak neighborhood



Monteverde Vecchio, perched atop Rome’s Gianicolo Hill, regally surveys the world over which it presides.

In the city of Seven Hills, Gianicolo (the English spelling is Janiculum) lays claim to No. 8. (Although it’s Rome’s second-tallest hill, it fell outside the boundaries of the ancient city when the seven were named.)

Enclosed by an ancient stone wall, the hill in general—and Monteverde Vecchio in particular—offers “the best views of Rome,” says Barbara Alessio, senior sales manager for Italy Sotheby’s International Realty. There’s much to see and do in the area, which, in a quaint tradition dating to the 19th century, salutes the arrival of noon each day with the firing of a cannon.

Villas With Views

Monteverde Vecchio, which Alessio says is “one of the most elegant residential areas of Rome,” is bordered on the north by the ancient Aurelian Way, on the west by Via Portuense, on the east by the ancient Gianicolensi walls, and on the south by Viale Trastere.

Its large, luxurious villas, built in the 1910s through the 1930s, are set among manicured gardens and are reached by sloping, winding roads shaded by trees.

There is a wide price range, Alessio says, with villas commanding about €7,000 per square meter. One of her current listings, a 1930s traditional-style villa that’s 865 square meters (9,310 square feet), is on the market for €5.9 million.

There are also some apartment buildings from the same period. A medium-size apartment in good condition in a nice building on a desirable street can bring €5,000 per square meter, Alessio says, adding that a penthouse would be in the same price range as a villa. “If it has a spectacular view, the price can go up 30% beyond that,” she says.

She adds that “there are lots of old-money and old-name families, and many of them have owned their villas for a hundred years.”

Monteverde Vecchio’s large, luxurious homes are set amid manicured gardens
Monteverde Vecchio’s large, luxurious homes are set amid manicured gardens.

What Makes It Unique

Small and unsung, Monteverde Vecchio offers the perfect balance of city and suburban living. “You have to be a native Roman to even know this neighborhood exists,” Alessio says. “It’s a beautiful, quiet place that’s five minutes from all the amenities—shops, restaurants, and nightlife—of Rome.”

On the dining scene, locals favor Antico Arco, an Italian restaurant whose wine cellar, located in one of the city’s ancient catacombs, contains some 20,000 bottles representing 1,200 labels from around the world.

Caffe Fiorini, open from breakfast to after-dinner cocktails, is “the kind of place you can stay all day,” Alessio says.

The unpretentious Bar Gianicolo, in the Piazzale Aurelio, attracts students and teachers from the nearby American Academy of Rome.

Next to it is Piazza Garibaldi, a square that appeals to tourists who gaze at its breathtaking views of the Eternal City. “People park and look at the views and sunsets,” Alessio says. “For couples, it’s a romantic spot.”

Monteverde Vecchio’s Homebaked coffee shop and eatery, owned by Americans, sells treats popular in the U.S., including brownies and bagels. “It’s the only place where you can get cinnamon rolls and pumpkin pie,” Alessio says.

In Trastevere, a 10-minute drive away, Pasticceria Valzani, established in 1925, sells chocolates and desserts; Pandora Della Malva offers contemporary jewelry and art; Joseph Debach creates handmade shoes; and Polvere Di Tempo sells hourglasses, compasses, and other time-related antiques.

Monteverde Vecchio has two parks. The 454-acre Villa Doria Pamphili, the largest public landscaped park in Rome, is home to a 17th-century villa and Vivi Bistrot, a restaurant with a healthy, organic menu; Villa Sciarra, named for the villa on the property, became a public park in 1932.

But the neighborhood’s most prominent landmark is the Garibaldi Monument, a larger-than-life bronze statue of the statesman riding a horse into battle, commemorating the French army’s 1849 assault on Rome.

Cultural life in Monteverde Vecchio is centered on the American Academy in Rome, a research and arts institution. “It brings in artists, events, concerts, and cultural discussions,” Alessio says.

Residents send children primarily to local state schools. Two well-known private international schools provide alternatives: Ambrit International School, a kindergarten-through-middle school that’s less than three miles from Monteverde Vecchio; and St. Stephen’s, a coeducational, nondenominational day and boarding school for students in grades nine through 12, two miles away.

The American University of Rome is also in the area. And John Cabot, a 10-minute drive away in Trastevere, is an American liberal arts university.

With all its amenities, Alessio says Monteverde Vecchio is Rome’s hidden treasure. “Once people discover it,” she says, “they never want to leave.”

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Italy Sotheby’s International Realty

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