Living and Eating like Locals in the Ostiense neighborhood of Rome


We fell in love with the Ostiense neighborhood when we made a trip to Rome to celebrate my 50th birthday. We rented the Ostiense Penthouse , a charming, antiques-filled penthouse that has an outdoor terrace filled with olive trees, rosemary, and succulents—a garden of delights overlooking the Tiber River.

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Ostiense Penthouse view of the Tiber River

The Ostiense Penthouse now rents only by the month, and we’ll be back when we have a month to spend in Rome. As much as we enjoyed the terrace and the river, we liked the neighborhood even more—filled with university students and great places to eat.

Last fall, we were planning a shorter visit, and looking for a place to spend four days after our island holiday in Ponza. We searched Airbnb for places in Ostiense with an outdoor space, which led us to Maria Letizia’s wonderful garden apartment, listed on Airbnb as a Brand New Studio Flat.

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Brand New Studio Flat in Ostiense

The flat is a stand alone apartment that looks like a glass greenhouse on a long garden patio, which is partially covered with a trellis and greenery. It’s a find: thoughtfully appointed and less than $100/night. (In January, 2018, it is renting for only $50 a night!)

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Interior View of the Brand New Studio Flat available on AirBnb

The apartment’s living space includes part of the patio, with a private outdoor table for dining. Rome has a very temperate climate most of the year, which allows one to enjoy the space all year around. Maria Letizia also keeps bicycles on the terrace, which visitors can use to wander the nearby bike paths of Rome.

We enjoyed shopping and eating at several nearby food markets including Volpetti, Eataly Roma, and the Porto Fluviale bar and market. All of them are within walking distance, and Porto Fluviale is right across the street.

Ostiense is part of Testaccio– traditionally a working class neighborhood. Now, it is changing rapidly with gentrification. As we read on the Airbnb site, “If Testaccio is the undiscovered Rome, then Ostiense is the undiscovered Testaccio.” And Porto Fluviale is one of the neighborhood’s main thoroughfares, renowned for street art and clever murals.

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Murals on a building along the Porto Fluviale

Staying in the Ostiense neighborhood puts you only a few subway stops from the Centro Storico, the historic center of the city of Rome. From Maria Letizia’s flat it’s only a five minute walk to the Piramide metro station, which is only two metro stops from Colosseo (very convenient to the Pantheon and many other legendary monuments). To be so close to a station that serves these areas is a big plus in Rome because the metro lines to the historic center are very limited in number—not surprising given all the archeological history not yet excavated.

In Rome, we often find that we’ve walked ten- or twenty-thousand steps. When we finally sit down, we realize why we are so ready for a meal and some prosecco!

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Volpetti, the legendary purveyor of fine food

When we can, we go to Volpetti for our treats. This is a well-known and family run gourmet food and wine shop that has everything we could possibly want: cured meats, delicious olive oils and balsamic vinegars, pastas, cheese, olives, wine. For decades, it has been recognized as a Roman institution of fine food.

Don’t miss around the corner, Volpetti Taverna, a casual restaurant offering fine quality meals that one would expect from Volpetti, along with organic wines and craft beers. I loved the Fregola Sarda, a traditional Sardinian pasta with squid and mussels with capers and minced mint.

Then there is Eataly Roma, the largest Eataly in the world. Jim didn’t want to go, which we laughed about afterward because he loved it so much. He thought it might be too touristy, but we found most of the people there were Romans, doing their weekly shopping or just relaxing with a local craft beer in the birreria.

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The Birrera at Eataly Roma

Eataly is a place of light-filled food halls, chock full of families shopping and having fun sampling cheese and salami.  The beer section alone is amazing.

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Jim enjoys a local craft beer at Eataly Roma

Aside from food, one of our other favorite places to visit in the neighborhood is the Protestant Cemetery, which is located at the foot of the large Pyramid of Cestius (from about 15 B.C.). This is a peaceful oasis in the otherwise busy city. Many artists, authors, scientists and other notables were laid to rest here, including the poets Keats and Shelley. We went early Sunday morning, as do plenty of Romans, for a stroll among paths lined with tall cypresses and pomegranate trees. The artistry of the grave monuments is truly  marvelous.

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Strolling amid the cypresses at the Protestant Cemetery

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Cats at the Protestant Cemetery are fed by charitable supporters.

I couldn’t end a food post on Roma without mentioning my favorite chocolate shop,
Confetteria Moriondo & Gariglio, which is near the Pantheon. For me, this is what makes Rome feel like ‘the eternal city’—not only touring ancient monuments, but finding shops I discovered nearly 30 years ago still there. Jim and I have a favorite stroll near the Pantheon that includes this shop and the nearby Doria Pamphili Museum.

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The entrance of Moriondo & Gariglio

As always, we swooned from the heady aroma of chocolate as we entered the shop. Jim bought me a box of chocolates, which the lovely ladies in their aprons and linen caps carefully placed in the shop’s signature red boxes. The chocolates are so delicious, they rarely make it back to New York with us.

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Mary’s chocolates from Moriondo & Gariglio

If anyone has favorite places to eat or visit in the Ostiense neighborhood, we hope you will share them in the comments.

Stay:

Maria Letizia’s Brand New Studio Flat:

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/12965698?location=Roma%20Ostiense%2C%20Roma%2C%20RM&s=GE5g3iAN

The Ostiense Penthouse rents only by the month from Rental in Rome:

http://www.rentalinrome.com/altrezone/ostiensepenthouse

Airbnb’s Guide to Ostiense:

https://www.airbnb.com/locations/rome/ostiense

Food:

Eataly — https://www.eataly.net/it_en/shops/rome/

Volpetti— http://www.volpetti.com

Ristorante Porto Fluviale— http://www.portofluviale.com/en/

Confetteria Moriondo & Gariglio (near the Pantheon)

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Confetteria-Moriondo-E-Gariglio/160858257274444

Find many more places to eat and drink in Ostiense here:

https://www.romeing.it/ostiense-district-guide/

And be sure to visit the Protestant Cemetery, near the Pyramid

http://www.cemeteryrome.it

All images are ours, and we were not compensated for this post.

A few more images from our Ostiense stays:

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Pomegranate tree in the Protestant Cemetery

Maria Letizia terrace

Looking up in Maria Letizia’s garden patio

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A Volpetti takeout dinner at the Ostiense Penthouse

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Olive tree on the terrace of the Ostiense Penthouse

4 Comments

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  1. 1
    Nat B

    I love travel posts and this one is a new favorite! Thank you for sharing so many hidden gems. It’s great to stay at an air b n b with a neighborhood feel.

    • 4
      Mary Robertson

      Yes, indeed. We love your place and already booked it for our trip at the end of the summer. Please feel free to share our Ponza post with some of your guests this summer! 😉👍🏻

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