Do you like to experience the real Rome, to see an alternative area very close to the city centre? San Lorenzo is a good option. We would rather go to Pigneto, but having more than one option is always a sound rule.
NAME AND ORIGINS
Let’s be clear, San Lorenzo has no stunning landmarks, buildings, archaeological ruins or monuments except for the basilica of San Lorenzo – which gives the name to the neighborhood – one of the most important churches of Rome.
And why is that in such a beautiful city like Rome you may wonder? First of all because it was built as a residential area for factory and railways workers, second and most important because it was heavily damaged by a WWII bombing.
It was the heaviest bombing Rome suffered during WWII. 1,500 people died, 4,000 were injured. Most of the buildings were destroyed. Reconstruction had to be fast and cheap as it was the case all over Italy in the war aftermath.
SAN LORENZO’S SPIRIT
How did it become Rome’s student and young artist district? Easy answer, Rome’s Sapienza University (the third largest in the world, by far the biggest in Europe with its 200,000 students) is nearby, and students especially non Roman ones – have been choosing it for decades as their home. It is also very close to Rome’s main train station, Termini.
But now the main question follows: why should we go there? To know Rome’s creativity, see the city’s young talent and breath the Bohemian atmosphere; to pick a pub, to have some cheap drinks and good food in what is Rome’s Left Bank borough.
EAT & DRINK
Our favorite place for a drink is Jamrock, Rome’s only Jamaica-inspired pub. You can also have good food there, like curry supplì or fried banana chips.
For another kind of drink, chocolate-based, or a snack or some desserts we would definitely recommend you Said.
Both these places and those that follow are the consequence of the unavoidable gentrification that the district has been through. Like any other such area in the Western world, after it becomes cool, money follows and cosmopolitan, brand new businesses pop up.
So, if you’re looking for a posh restaurant there, Arancia Blu is a good destination, especially if you are vegetarian.
If you want a place with a nice design both for a drink and a meal, 00100, is our tip.
If you, instead, want to go to a restaurant where a local would eat, Formula 1 is your place. Very cheap and informal pizzeria that fully embodies the spirit of this part of Rome.
ARTS & PRODUCTS
Let’s finally see the artsy side of San Lorenzo. The borough has many graffiti and street art works. They’re really beneficial in such an ugly area! But there are also interesting, cutting-edge art galleries.
We recently enjoyed the architecture and city planning gallery Come Se, which also features a lounge bar. And we would also recommend to hit the creative space ESC atelier, an underground culture centre that also hosts shows.