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Discover Alternative Rome in San Lorenzo, the student and young artists district

Discover Alternative Rome in San Lorenzo, the student and young artists district

In order to view this article offline and get travel directions to the restaurants mentioned below you need to download the GPSmyCity Rome Maps and Walks app from the App Store or Google Play. All our posts turned into self-guided walking tours can be found here.

sanlorenzoDo you like to experience the real Rome, to see an alternative area very close to the city centre? San Lorenzo is a very good option. We would also recommend you 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. This area is particularly lively and recommend at night, however, as most areas attended by young people and students near the main train station of a big city, it can also present some threats, like drug dealing. So open your eyes while going around here, especially in the wee hours or if you are alone. 

 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

For chocolate-based snacks, desserts, and drinks, like the best hot chocolate in town, perfect for winter, we would definitely recommend you Saidan ancient factory, that testifies to the industrial origins of this part of town. This place turns so crowded to look crazy before Easter when their chocolate eggs, hens, and bells are very appreciated by locals. 

If you want a place with a nice design both for a drink and a meal, 00100, is our tip.

Both these places and some of 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.

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. I used to go there during the military draft and I have very good memories of it.

If you’re after a standard restaurant, Osteria da Marcello is a good and well tried solution. Genuine, local cuisine. Simple, roman dishes cooked here mostly for Romans.   

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 by indie artists, a gathering point for the area’s alternative community.

Last but not least a shopping destination: Ultramoderno, a fashion workshop run by a  Brazilian artist, where you can also rent standard and unconventional clothes.

In order to view this article offline and get travel directions to the restaurants mentioned below you need to download the GPSmyCity Rome Maps and Walks app from the App Store or Google Play. All our posts turned into self-guided walking tours can be found here.