Welcome back to The Neighborhoods of Rome series. We first began breaking down the Eternal City by exploring the Monti quarter in Rome. Today we’re putting the magnifying lens on a quartiere popolare, a working class neighborhood in the periphery of the city. Come with us across the tracks to Pigneto.
Pigneto is a vibrant mix of living history, cool nightlife, street-art, great food and a fiercely independent spirit. Taking its name from the long line of maritime pine trees planted along the wall of 18th-century Villa Serventi, gritty Pigneto has undergone a remarkable evolution over the past few decades, becoming a culturally and artistically gentrified hipster enclave, and shaking off its shady reputation associated with drugs and violence.
History of Pigneto
Shaped like an isosceles triangle, Pigneto is wedged between two of the city’s most important ancient consular roads––Via Prenestina and Via Casilina––and can be also accessed through the spectacular ancient Roman gate called Porta Maggiore.
The area’s rollercoaster history began in the 19th century, when it quickly became an industrial hub and housing development for the growing city. Like nearby San Lorenzo, Pigneto was severely bombed during World War II, displayed strong anti-Fascism spirit and remained a hotbed of left-wing activism through the 1960s.
Pigneto was also the chosen location for many Italian films: a neo-realist portrait of the war-torn city in Roberto Rossellini’s Rome Open City and Vittorio De Sica’s Il Tetto; and the expression of the decay of the industrialized capital in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Accattone (above). Pigneto also served as the setting for a satire of the film industry, Luchino Visconti’s Bellissima.
What to see in Pigneto
Porta Maggiore marks the western corner of Pigneto. This monumental gate dating back to the year 52AD, marked the intersection of eight of the original eleven aqueducts of ancient Rome. The gate was later included in the 3rd-century Aurelian Walls. The curious Tomb of the Baker, Marcus Virgilius Eurysaces, that faces the gate was however built around 30 BCE. The modern-looking circular openings on the side are commonly thought to be stylized renditions of the grain measures which were the tools of Eurysaces’ breadmaking trade.
Not far from here, the gorgeous 1st century BC Basilica di Porta Maggiore lies seven meters underground. The arches of the Acquedotto Claudio (aqueduct) running harmoniously along Via Casilina, and 1st century BC Torrione Prenestino mausoleum, provide further archaeological evidence to the greatness of the ancient city.
Continuing to a much more recent era, yet living side by side the area’s ancient remains, are numerous buildings decorated with huge, very characteristic street art murals, particularly on Via del Pigneto, in Via Fanfulla da Lodi or in Via Prenestina, just to mention a few.
Located in Pigneto is also a unique little gem: the historical museum of early 20th century games, toys and memorabilia, La Memoria Giocosa.
Where to eat in Pigneto
In order to experience Pigneto at its authentic best, it’s important to sample its vibrant nightlife and eclectic food scene. Here is where we like to eat in Pigneto.
Interested in a personalized food walk around Pigneto, snacking on typical treats in the company of a local food expert? Email us!
Where to drink in Pigneto
Pigneto is all about authenticity, affordable hangouts and clinking glasses. Our favorite watering holes in the Pigneto neighborhood are:
Would you like us to arrange a custom beer, wine or cocktail tasting in one or more Pigneto bars? Email us!
Where to shop in Pigneto
The Monday-to-Saturday produce market on Via del Pigneto has stalls selling fresh produce and flowers. This is the best place to grasp the true neighborhood vibe, and to people-watch.
On Sunday there’s a mercatino dell’usato thrift market for vintage finds.
With its young and trendy reputation, Pigneto boasts a number of places to hunt for vinyl records––a big trend right now. Ghost Record Store and Radiation Records deal wide-ranging genres, and Blutopia on Via del Pigneto is a real musical haven, straight out of a movie. Don’t miss the second-hand bookstore upstairs!
Looking for a personal shopper to take you around Rome? Email us!
How to Reach Pigneto
Linea C (green) Pigneto and Malatesta stops
5 – 14 – 19
Roma-Giardinetti line, Sant’Elena; Villini; Alessi stops
Photo credits – Eleonora Baldwin – Necci – Alberto Blasetti – Roger Ulrich