Prati stands for meadows, fields. For centuries this area of Rome was intentionally kept like this because it made the defence from external attacks of S.Angelo Castle, and hence of the Vatican, easier.
But after Rome became Italy’s capital in 1870, these strategic needs faded away and urbanization sprawled west of the Tiber. It was a slow process, I remember my grandmother saying that when she was a child, at the start of the 20th century, there were only fields in the Prati area.
But the name remained, despite the fact that the area has nearly no parks, but just small gardens.
There are no big landmarks to visit in Prati. It’s an area to have a walk around to enjoy the atmosphere of one of Rome’s richest parts with nice solid well built palaces, modern roads, nice shops and good restaurants.
OK, if you really can’t avoid arts and culture along your strolls there is something you can see. In the main square of the borough, Piazza Cavour, you have the Justice Palace, the huge, white marbled heavy compound – which I personally don’t like but some others do – expression of the monumental style of the early 20th century that you can also (in this case) admire in the Monument of Piazza Venezia. And you also have the Waldensian Church, with beautiful decorations and glass-windows by Paschetto. Another outstanding church, which you can best admire from the opposite bank of the river, is the Neogothic Church of the Sacro Cuore del Suffragio, finished in 1917. there is nothing like this in Rome. Gothic or neogothic styles really don’t belong to Rome!
Another interesting building is the liberty style building of the Mamiani high school, a national monument with a science museum, often vandalized by its unruly students.
In general, the fascination of this borough draws from its liberty style villas and the deco palaces of the 1920-30s. One of these buildings hosts the Polish Culture Institute which often has interesting, free, art exhibits.
There are also a couple of nice markets. One is a wholesale flower market open to the public on Tuesday mornings from 10 to 1pm. The other is a huge second-hand books market for students that takes place from August to late October every year in Lungotevere Oberdan.
But if you want to concentrate on lighter things here are some tips. After a day spent in the Vatican you may want to do some shopping, for instance.
When I was kid my favorite toy shop was Giorni, in one of the quiet streets of Prati.
The borough also boasts very good clothing shops also because it hosts many law firms as most of the Courts in Rome are in the area.
In terms of quality/price ratio Franceschini, in Via Cola di Rienzo, is one of our favorite for men’s clothing.
For shoes, a very high-end and expensive option is Boccanera in via Vittoria Colonna, the same of the Polish Cultural Institute. An historical name is Trancanelli with two shops, one in Piazza Cola di Rienzo the other in Via Sabotino. A cheaper one, with good quality stuff, is the factory store of Via Carso, Glen.
In Via Sabotino you also have Antonini, of the most famous cafes of Rome, where many famous people go for a drink or a canape. Its rival is Vanni, in the nearby via col di Lana. The perfect place for an aperitivo is Settembrini (high VIP attendance) while the ideal escape to chill out is Fabrica.
After walking in Prati you may get hungry. Here are some of our favorite restaurants.
If you’re after simple, traditional Roman cuisine you’ve got two options: Berninetta and Cacio e Pepe. For other Italian regional cuisines (read our three stories here), you have Barchetta (Neapolitan), Dal Toscano (Tuscan) and La Tavernetta Umbra (Umbria).
photo by pariolifotografia.it