Garbatella can be taken as evidence of the fact that things, in history, are often opposed to how they are programmed. District designed in the Fascist era, as evidenced by its squares square, in the 70s became a small fort communist. Final result? One of the most vibrant areas of the capital, not only culturally, but also for the local offering and the fun nightlife. Among the most fascinating places in Rome.
Garbatella fast becomes a favourite of any that visit boasting otherworldly architecture, authentic local cuisine and lively laid-back nightlife. The impressive bridge Settimia Spizzichino is now opening up a contemporary artery into the historic neighbourhood linking it to the studenty Via Ostiense and inspiring a new wave of hip venues.
The area was a development plan for working class families in the 1920’s copying the British ‘Garden City’, a utopian ideal where residents live in harmony with nature. The architectural style is a mix of “Barochetto’ with naturalistic botanical and animal motifs along with Medieval and Renaissance flourishes.
Garbatella is full of striking details: a stair, a chimney, a relief, a fountain, an old street lamp or a raw wall. It is a poetic neighbourhood, a maze of courtyards, each one with its own gardens, squares, stairs, balconies and fountains. The name came from a kind innkeeper known as Carlotta who fed construction workers, which led to the shortening of Garbata Ostella meaning ‘well-liked hostel’ to Garbatella.
Garbatella is sociality: people gathering at the local bar while children play soccer in the middle of the square, students hanging out for a drink and old men arguing about the football match at the corner of the street. That’s really a neighborhood with an exceptional sense of community Garbatella can also mean traditional Roman dishes: all around the neighborhood you can taste some authentic traditional cuisine entering one of its many trattorie (the more shabby, the better!).
Actually one of our best Garbatella’s memories is linked to its beautiful courtyards: one night we had a romantic walk under the stars crossing one courtyard after another and ending up at the border of the neighborhood. We were impressed by the fact that you can cross the whole neighborhood off-the-beaten paved path, taking a charming walk across Garbatella’s picturesque courtyards instead.
Down the street from Garbatella’s historic centre behind Piramide metro station is Eataly on Piazzale XII Ottobre 1492, a multi-level complex of glittering glass instantly recognisable. It encompasses a gourmet food market, retail zones, chic open plan food stations and top floor restaurant and workshop area for tastings, events and cookery classes.
New in Garbatella is La Maisonette Ristrot, a restaurant-bistrot that has a lot of people talking. Situated in an historic deep red 1920’s villa a few steps from the metro, on offer is Mediterranean cooking with modern twists and an emphasis on fresh fish and seafood. The decor inside is reminiscent of a French retro bistrot with light painted wood and mixed reclaimed furnishings. Outside the rustic facade boasts striking Roman red terracotta with a large outdoor decking area and funky graffiti. They have coined the term ‘RISTROT’, a novel hybrid of restaurant and bistrot. They serve biological and natural beverages such as craft beers and organic wine. Recently they’ve started offering aperitivo dj sets and live concerts to entertain diners in the summer months on their attractive spacious decked terrace.
Another spot worth mentioning is Li Scalini De Marisa on Via Roberto de Nobili, 17: it is a neighbourhood restaurant for down to earth Roman cooking. Sat below street level with a quaint covered seating area outside, you’ll discover authentic Roman cuisine for a great price. I usually order the strange-sounding but surprisingly delicious cow tail in tomato sauce.
Otium Club is a surprise feather in the cap of Garbatella’s historic centre. Close to Teatro Palladium on Via Roberto de Nobili 3b, it’s like a little radical chic treasure cave with striking red walls, funky music posters and jumbled vintage decor adding an underground edge to the local area. They have a good selection of liquors, beers and wine living up to its hip dive feel with various platters, panini and snacks to nibble on too.
Last but not least, L’Ambretta restaurant and pub, a lovely spot next to Ambra Teather offering great quality food, a charming atmosphere with a special focus on engines and motorbikes, a very wide variety of beers and vines and most importantly a friendly environment where talking and laughing with friends is a natural and pleasant amusement.