Prati is the 22nd rione of Rome. It is a fairly affluent area, but mostly devoid of big tourist attractions.
Prati District Rome (Rione XXII)
History and description
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 (“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 new streets that were constructed 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.
What to see and do in Prati
Shopping in Prati
The Via Cola di Rienzo is now one of Rome‘s most important shopping streets. The Via Ottaviano, between the metro stop of the same name, and the Vatican City, is lined with shops catering mostly to tourists.
The main market is the indoor Mercato dell’Unità in the square of the same name. Founded in 1928, this is still the go-to market for the restaurant owners of the district for fresh food.
The Piazza Cavour, with the Palazzo della Giustizia taking up one whole side, is the main square of the district.
The Piazza Risorgimento is the other main square. Since it is located right next to the Vatican City, and is also a public transport hub, it is usually extremely crowded.
Designed in 1928, the Fountain of the Caryatids takes up central position in the Piazza dei Quiriti.
The Piazza della Libertà is located close to the river. This part of the district is characterized by its, sometimes rather whimsical, early 1920s architecture.
The Sacro Cuore di Gesù Church is notably because of its impressive Gothic facade. Next to the sacristy is a small museum where relics of souls from purgatory are on display.