The most central districts of Rome are called rioni and there are 22 of them. It is here that the most important tourist attractions can be found. The area outside the rioni is made up of 35 quartieri and stretches to the Grande Raccordo Anulare, the ring road around the city. The next circle is occupied by the suburbi and finally there are 53, sparsely populated, zone.
Monti (rione I)
Monti is the first rione of the city and also one of the most interesting ones. It stretches from (almost) the main railway station Termini to (almost) the Colosseum. The part to the west of the Via Cavour is extremely picturesque, with narrow streets and small and cozy squares. At the moment Monti is one of Rome’s number 1 night time districts.
Trevi (rione II)
Trevi is one of the most central rione‘s. This district has a big concentration of tourist attractions, the most famous one being the Trevi Fountain. Other important sights are the Monument for Vittorio Emanuele II, the Quirinal Palace, and the Scuderie del Quirinale and Palazzo Barberini museums.
Colonna (Rione III)
Although Colonna is extremely centrally located it is not a very big area and has fewer attractions than expected. Part of Rome’s most important shopping street, the Via del Corso, runs through this district, that can also boast a number of government buildings.
Campo Marzio (rione IV)
The name of Rome‘s 4th rione is Campo Marzio. Already when Rome was first subdivided into rioni the district existed, although it was much bigger at the time. The Spanish Steps, the Piazza del Popolo and the so-called Tridente, the city’s most prestigious shopping quarter, are all part of Campo Marzio.
Ponte (rione V)
Ponte is the name of the 5th rione of Rome. The district lies along the river Tiber, across from the Castel Sant’Angelo. Main attractions are the Church of San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini and the National Roman Museum in the Palazzo Altemps. The latter is one of many historical buildings in this district.
Parione (Rione VI)
Parione is one of the most central districts and contains some of the most famous tourist attractions in the historical center of Rome. Both the Piazza Navona and the Campo de’ Fiori are located in this part of the city. Bernini‘s Fountain of the Four Rivers is one of three fountains adorning the first square.
Ripa (rione VII)
Ripa is one of the least populated central districts in Rome. What it does have is a great number of tourist attractions, including the Circus Maximus and the Mouth of Truth. The Aventine Hill not only offers a number of beautiful churches and some great views, but also the most famous keyhole in the world.
Sant’Eustachio (Rione VIII)
Sant’Eustachio is a rather tiny, but extremely picturesque quarter. This centrally located district can boast a good number of beautiful churches, including the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, the Church of Sant’Andrea della Valle and the Church of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza. It also has the best caffè (espresso) of Rome, it is said.
Pigna (Rione IX)
Pigna is the name of the 9th rione. Like Sant’Eustachio, it is not a very vast district, but it counts a lot of interesting sights. The district has a square shape, with the Pantheon, Largo di Torre Argentina, the Palazzo Venezia and the Oratorio del Caravita as its corners.
Campitelli (Rione X)
Campitelli is by far the district with the biggest number of inportant tourist attractions. It is also the rione with the smallest number of inhabitants. The Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill and the Capitoline Museums are absolute highlights.
Sant’Angelo (Rione XI)
The rione Sant’Angelo is located north of the Isola Tiberina and comprises the area that used to be the Jewish Ghetto. This smallest district of the city is great area for foodies. The Theater of Marcellus and the Fountain of the Turtles are the main sights.
Trastevere (rione XIII)
Trastevere is the most famous and popular night time area of the city. The district is characterized by narrow alleys and colourful little squares full of restaurants and pubs. The streets leading to the central Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere are full of trendy shops. Trastevere also forms the Sunday morning background to Italy’s most famous market, Porta Portese.
Castro Pretorio (rione XVIII)
Castro Pretorio is the name of the district around the central station. As in station areas all over the world, it is a rather chaotic district full of cheap hotels, hostels and bed and breakfasts as well as fast food outlets and (sometimes surprisingly good) local restaurants.
Apart from the official divisions there are also frazioni, small villages surrounding the main city of a municipality. The names of these frazioni often, but not always, overlap with those of Rome‘s outer districts.
There are also districts or little hamlets that are called zone “O”. These are often the legalized result of initially illegal building practices, modernized and made to conform to standards in the 1970’s.
And finally there are the unofficial names the Romans have given to special neighborhoods of the city and that are often better known than the official denominations. Hence part of the quartiere Tiburtino is better known as San Lorenzo and Pigneto overlaps two separate parts of two different quartieri.
Beyond the boundaries of Roma Capitale, the official name of Rome and its suburbs, lies what used to be the Province of Rome. As of January 1st 2015, the former province is called Città Metropolitana di Roma Capitale. It consists of 121 comunes.
San Lorenzo is part of the quartiere Tiburtino, though there is not a single Roman who would go out to have beer or a pizza in the latter. The feel of this neighbourhood is determined by the vicinity of the Sapienza University of Rome, which means that there are lots of young people and therefore lots of cheap places to eat and lots of pubs. San Lorenzo, named for the Basilica of Saint Lawrence outside the Walls is not beautiful, but the atmosphere is great.
Most of Pigneto is part of the quartiere Prenestino-Labicano and some of it lies in the quartiere Tiburtino. Pigneto is fairly unique in that there are many houses instead of the apartment buildings of most of central Rome. At the moment it can be seen as the alternative district of the city.