Prati is the 22nd rione of Rome. It is a fairly affluent area, but mostly devoid of tourist attractions.
Prati District Rome (Rione XXII)
In the times of the Roman Empire the area was known as the Horti Domitii, because the wife Emperor Domitian owned almost the entire area in order to cultivate vineyards there. Later the name was changed into Pratis Neronis (Nero’s field) and still later into Prata Sancti Petri (the fields of Saint Peter), because of its location near the Vatican.
Until the year 1870, when Rome was again divided into rioni, the army used Prati for military exercises and it came to be called Piazza d’Armi. Rome kept growing however and a big part of Prati came to be used for the construction of government buildings and houses for the people working in those buildings.
In those days the Vatican City and the Italian State were all but friends and the new streets that were built in Prati were all designed in such a way that they never showed a view of Saint Peter’s Basilica. The most important streets in the area (e.g. the Via Cola di Rienzo) were all named after Italian freedom fighters. The central square of the area was obviously called Piazza di Risorgimento.
Construction of new buildings in the area was difficult. Enormous amounts of sand had to be transported to the area to ensure that e.g. the Palazzo della Giustizia would not sink into the earth in case the Tiber flooded.
Prati‘s coat of arms shows the Mausoleo di Agosto (now known as Castel Sant’Angelo), which is located in the rione Borgo.
The Via Cola di Rienzo is now one of Rome‘s most important shopping streets. The Piazza Risorgimento and the Piazza Cavour are the most beautiful squares in this area.
Prati Tourist Attractions
The Villino Douhet (Via Marcantonio Colonna, 23) was designed by Ernesto Basile in the early 20th century. It is in this building that a group led by the fascist pilot and politician Atlantici used to meet. It is the current seat of the Associazione Arma Aeronautica.