Prati District Rome (Rione XXII)

Prati is the 22nd rione of Rome. Although there are few big tourist attractions in the district itself, the district is visited by many tourists. This is because both the Vatican City and the Castel Sant’Angelo are just on the border with the district. Prati is considered to be one of the wealthier neighborhoods in the center of the city.

What to see and do in the Prati neighborhood

Palazzo di Giustizia, Prati neighborhood, Rome
Palazzo di Giustizia

Top 10 tourist attractions Prati

01. Piazza Cavour

The Piazza Cavour is the central square of the district. Attractions are the Chiesa Valdese and the Cavour monument, but especially the south side, which is completely taken up by the Palazzo di Giustizia.

02. Palazzo di Giustizia

Palazzo della Giustizia Rome
Fountain Piazza della Giustizia

Athough the Palazzo di Giustizia occupies an entire side of the Piazza Cavour, most tourists will probably be more familiar with the even more impressive facade facing the river, on the other side. Construction began in 1888.

03. Piazza del Risorgimento

Piazza Risorgimento and Vatican Walls
Part of Piazza Risorgimento and the Vatican Walls

The Piazza del Risorgimento, constructed toward the end of the 19th century, is the second main square of the Prati neighborhood. Part of it borders the Vatican City. There are both a monument and a museum dedicated to the carabinieri.

04. Fountain of the Caryatids

Piazza dei Quiriti Fountain
Fontana delle Cariatidei

Designed in 1928, the Fountain of the Caryatids occupies central position in the Piazza dei Quiriti. Caryatids are sculptures of female figures serving as supports.

05. Sacro Cuore di Gesù in Prati Church

Sacro Cuore di Gesù in Prati Church
Sacro Cuore di Gesù in Prati Church

The Sacro Cuore di Gesù in Prati Church is also called the Sacro Cuore del Suffragio Church. The church has an impressive Gothic facade, which is sandwiched between modern buildings. Next to the sacristy is a small museum dedicated to the souls of purgatory are on display.

06. Villino Vitale

Villino Vitale Rome
Villino Vitale

The Villino Vitale was built in the early 20th century. Built in an Art Deco style, the palace has since been transformed into a hotel. The most striking decorations are the swallows below the roof.

07. Piazza della Libertà

Piazza della Libertà (Prati district Rome)
Piazza della Libertà

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.

08. Villino Douhet

Villino Douhet Rome
Villino Douhet

The Villino Douhet is an early 20th century building designed by Ernesto Basile. The building, which has a far more interesting interior than expected, but can only rarely be visited, is the current seat of the Associazione Arma Aeronautica.

09. San Gioacchino in Prati Church

San Gioacchino in Prati Church
San Gioacchino in Prati

The late 19th the century San Giocchino in Prati Church is located just off the Piazza dei Quiriti. The reason it not built in the square itself is that the Catholic Church was not very popular in the immediate aftermath of the Unification of Italy. Newly built churches were thus often relegated to side streets.

10. Tiber Bridges

Ponte Uberto I Rome
Ponte Umberto I

Four different bridges connect Prati to the historical center. These are the Ponte Umberto I, the Ponte Cavour, the Ponte Regina Margherita and the Ponte Pietro Nenni.

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.

Market

Mercato dell'Unità
Mercato dell’Unità

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.

Eating and drinking in Prati

Since Prati is a relatively new neighborhood, it lacks the atmosphere of the picturesque alleys and piazze of nearby Borgo and Trastevere.

One recommended spot is Alexanderplatz, the city’s oldest and most famous Jazz Cafe, which also offers excellent food.

Public transportation to Prati

The Prati neighborhood is well connected to the historical center. The metro stops Lepanto and Ottaviano are located in the northern part of the district. The Piazza del Risorgimento is the capolinea of tram line 19 and of several bus lines to the center.

A brief history of Prati

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.

Curiosities

Prati‘s coat of arms shows the Mausoleo di Agosto (now known as Castel Sant’Angelo), which is located in the rione Borgo.

Rione Prati, Roma (R. XXII)

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