In 2009, Italy’s financial crisis struck, sending shops throughout Rome’s Monti neighborhood out of business. That same year, Roman-born Ornella Cicchetti stepped up to create a business with the potential to revive Monti’s streets. The result—a secondhand and artisan market called Mercato Monti—would soon become the champion of the neighborhood, establishing the market, and Cicchetti herself, as the pinnacle players in Rome’s vintage shopping scene and beyond.
A decade later, the ancient streets of Monti have been restored to their former glory—this time, with sustainable fashion at the forefront. And from her perch at the top of Rome’s indie market industry, Cicchetti sees all the good—of old and new—that her city has to offer.
“Rome is a magnetic city. Its beauty, the vibe, the atmosphere; it’s what makes this city unique,” she shares.
“And after a day out, once [you’re] back home, you realize that a simple walk in the streets of Rome has been precious.”
Ornella’s Perfect (Food) Day in Rome
On weekends, my daughter and I like to have a nice cappuccino and amazing pastries from Le Levain, a French bakery and patisserie near Piazza San Cosimato. During the week we also like to go to San Callisto, where you can get traditional cornetto and cappuccino al vetro (in the glass). San Callisto is the place to go when visiting Trastevere for that real Roman feeling that is not so common to get anymore, especially in central Rome.
For lunch I usually go to Peppo—they’ve got the best pizza—but now that Aromaticus has just opened on the same street, I am sure I will be going there as well. I would also suggest Cantina Ripagrande.
For drinks, I would recommend Drink Kong. Da Santo in Trastevere [also has] amazing food and amazing drinks. For a restaurant in Trastevere—Le Mani in Pasta on Via Dei Genovesi; Da Teo on Piazza in Piscinula; [or] Da Rocco on Via Giovanni Lanza.
The best art and history:
Read before you go:
Trilussa poetry books [ed. note: translated from Romanesco to English here.]
Know before you go:
Don’t look just on Google or Trip Advisor—have direct contact with humans, and if you want to go somewhere, ask the people you meet on the way for recommendations. For restaurants or tips, ask newsagents or grocery men when you go to the market.
Where to stay:
I like G Rough.
Also see the Italian Minimalist’s guide to art and inspiration in Rome.