The cafe-lined Campo de' Fiori sees fewer tourists than the Pantheon and Piazza Navona area directly to its north. In place of tourists, Campo de' Fiori is a prime hang-out zone for Rome's young hipsters. Crowds (including more than a few foreign exchange students) spill out of bars onto the Piazza at night.
The Piazza centers around a statue of dissident Giordano Bruno, burned at the stake in 1600 for his heretical ways. During the day, the area's great restaurants, fab little shops, and a weekday morning market take over. Rome's Jewish Ghetto is a short stroll away, down Via Giubbonari.
The Monti neighborhood feature some of Rome's cutest winding, hilly streets. It's chockablock full of great little hidden-away bars and restaurants. In parts it's quite stylish, though the area is best known for its boho, artsy independent shops and galleries. The area's Via Serpenti is the best spot for ethnic cuisine. Cavour is the closest Metro station.
The neighborhood boasts some of Rome's most famous landmarks, churches and ruins, including the Colosseum, Trajan's Market and parts of the Roman Forum.
In its defense, the area north of Stazione Centrale Termini is both convenient and affordable. On the convenience front, trains heading to Fumincino airport and across Italy depart from this massive structure. The front of Termini is a tangle of bus stops, and Rome's two metro lines, as well as markets and shops.
That said, the area north of Termini is not the most picturesque area in central Rome by a long shot. The semi-circle of streets north of the station is bordered by the Piazza della Republica to the west and the Villa Borghese parkland to the north. In between are hundreds of hotels and very few tourist attractions. Although always crowded and sometimes a little seedy, there is an upside to this neighborhood. Lots of competition in every hotel budget category can make for good rates.
Everybody flocks to Piazza Navona for its three Bernini fountains and fancy schmancy bars and restaurants. Via del Governo Vecchio is one of Rome's best streets to explore wine bars, cafes, vintage clothes, new designer boutiques, and restaurants spanning the gamut from rustic to chic.
The area we designate as the Pantheon and Piazza Navona is located to the west of the train station and southwest of Piazza di Spagna. In addition to the busy Piazza Navona and the Pantheon, the neighborhood features innumerable old churches and pockets of great budget value, both in terms of hotels and restaurants.
Just south of the Villa Borghese and northwest of the train station, the Piazza di Spagna is home to the famous Spanish Steps, where hundreds gather to relax in the afternoon sun before strolling along the boutique- and café-lined Via dei Condotti.
The area is home to the Trevi Fountain, the lovely Villa Borghese Park, and loads and loads of stylish (and pricey) shops. Not surprisingly, the Piazza di Spagna area is considered to be a very desireable place to stay. This means that it's not exactly a bargain-hunter's paradise.
Five minutes south of the main train station, the area surrounding the glorious Santa Maria Maggiore church has a spirit of its own (thank Heavens!). Resting beneath the gold-vaulted ceilings of the church are various relics, including the tomb of St. Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin in the fourth century.
The area is home to numerous imposing government buildings, as well as twisting streets lined with small restaurants and bars. Close to Termini (but far enough away to feel safe) the Santa Maria Maggiore area is even relatively clean.
Perched on the western bank of the River Tiber just where it straddles Isola Tiberina, Trastevere ("across the Tevere," or Tiber) is known for its artsy demeanor and picturesque, winding streets. This historically working-class neighborhood is terribly cute, and hip to boot. It's characterized by earth-toned medieval buildings and stone walls just crawling with ivy. Plus, it offers easy access to the Centro Historico.
Just keep in mind that Trastevere has been "discovered." The neighborhood features loads of tourist traps. Think Boho gone Soho. And while much of its tough, "authentic" Roman character remains, Trastevere is also now home to numerous trendy and touristy bars, cafes, shops, and restaurants. Nighttime crowds can make these postcard-perfect streets downright noisy. Despite all this, we can't help it. We love Trastevere just the same.
Located across the Tiber River, west of much of Rome, the Vatican and Prati are unquestionably majestic. St. Peter's Basilica is the focal point of the Vatican. It took 150 years to complete and is Europe's largest (and, arguably, most important) church. The Vatican is the world's only neighborhood that's also a nation. Set apart from the Rome of ancient ruins and trendy stores, the Vatican and Prati area is pleasant but not exactly what we'd call exciting. Tree-lined streets, wide boulevards, and newer buildings with ornate, manicured courtyards are the rule.
In addition to St. Peter's Basilica, Piazza Risorgimento and Piazza Cavour are top attractions. The area is two stops on the subway from Piazza di Spagna and within a five-minute bus ride of Trastevere, a picturesque hip neighborhood to the south. This is a great area to stay. Hotel rates are often lower, hotel rooms bigger, and nights quieter than in other central Rome neighborhoods.