Guide to the Borgo

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This is a companion piece to my Guide to Catholic Rome.

Churches

We have lots of churches in the Borgo neighborhood.

Saint Peter’s Basilica, of course. Open daily from 7 am – 7 pm — but you should really only visit at 7 am when it’s quiet and empty. Confessions available in English.

Sant’Anna at the top of Borgo Pio towards the Vatican and inside the Vatican walls. You can’t be shy to visit here as you have to motion to the Swiss Guard that you are going into the church. Open 7 am – 12 pm and 4 pm – 7 pm.

Santa Maria in Traspontina at via della Conciliazione 14. This is the Carmelite church in Rome.

Santo Spirito in Sassia is the Divine Mercy Shrine in Rome. Located at via de Penitenzieri 12. Daily Divine Mercy at 3 pm, daily adoration at 5:30 pm.

Shopping

There are tons of religious gift shops on the street. The best place for nice jewelry, crosses, rosaries, etc, is Mango, located at via del Mascherino 15.
If you are looking for a large variety and want to purchase quantities of metals, rosaries, and prayer cards, to have blessed by the pope, Comandini is located at Borgo Pio 151.

Cafes

Note that most cafes in Rome have a price you pay if you drink at the counter, and a price you pay if you sit at a table. Sometimes the table price is double the cost for a drink at the counter. There are a lot of cafes that prey on tourists, so you should always ask the price before ordering. There are a few places near the Vatican that charge €8 for a cappuccino. A cappuccino at the counter should never be more than €1.50.

Coffee talk…
Your typical drip coffee from back home is called an Americano

A latte is a glass of milk, just order a cappuccino if you usually have lattes back home.

If you like strong coffee, you can order a caffè doppio, which is two shots of espresso.

A macchiato is espresso with a splash of milk.

Latteria Giuliani at Borgo Pio 48 is a locals only cafe. Come here to have a coffee alongside the Romans.

Del Monte at Borgo Pio 136 is great for sitting outside and people watching.

McDonald’s (no, really) at via del Mascherino 5 is great for a coffee to go. €1.50 for a large cappuccino that you can then drink in Saint Peter’s Square. It’s one of my favorite things.

If tea is more your style, Makasar at via Plauto 33 is the place for you.

Also nearby…
Pergamino Caffé is a great place for coffee snobs. A cappuccino here is closer to €2, but it’s worth the price. Located at Piazza del Risorgimento 7.

Restaurants

Since you are right by the Vatican, there are lots of touristy restaurants in the neighborhood. If a place is begging you to come in, there’s probably a reason… avoid these places.

There are many great restaurants in the area, but these are some of my favorites.

Arlu is run by a great family. Though it’s not expensive, this is a bit more high end than most other restaurants on the street. The presentation is excellent and everything I’ve had here is delicious. The octopus appetizer is amazing. Located at Borgo Pio 135.

Ristorante Venerina at Borgo Pio 38 is a good spot for people watching. We all call the owner “momma” and she makes some great food.

da’Roberto was one of Cardinal Ratzinger’s favorites. They are known for the rigatoni alla norcina. Located at Borgo Pio 60. Closed Tuesdays.

Da Romolo always has a line of people. Great pastas and really the only decent pizza in the neighborhood. Located at vicolo del Campanile 12. Closed Mondays.

Quick Eats

You’ll see lots of Romans walking around with a slice of pizza or a panino. These are some of the best places to get them…

For pizza by the slice, Pizzeria Casali located at via del Mascherino 44. Go in, point at what you want, and, using your hands, show them how large of a slice you want. They will ask if you want it in a box or to walk with it. Get it in a box if you plan to take it back to the hotel to eat, or have them wrap it up for walking if you plan to eat while you stroll. Also try the suppli, a fried rice ball with mozzarella and tomato sauce — so good.

Mordi at Borgo Pio 181 is the place for panini. My favorite is the Rione Borgo, the meatball is great too. A second location just opened on the street closer to the Vatican.

Gelato

When you order gelato, you can get a cone or a cup. In a small you can usually get two flavors, three in a medium, etc. Ask for a sample if you want to try a flavor.

Hedera at Borgo Pio 179 has great seasonal flavors.

Gelateria Del Monte at Borgo Pio 131 has Rome’s best chocolate.

Also nearby…
Old Bridge is where you get the most for your money, a small here is a large at most other places. There’s often a line. Located at viale dei Bastioni di Michelangelo 5.

Bars

Aperitivi is as Italian as you can get. As you may gather from the name, it’s a time to prep your appetite for dinner. The most popular drinks are Negroni (a bright red gin based drink), Aperol Spritz (a bright orange sparkling drink), and a Hugo (a clear sparkling drink). Try them all! In most places, these should cost you €5 – €10 and will usually include snacks.

PapoGusto is my usual local spot these days. Located at Borgo Pio 31.

Latteria Giuliani at Borgo Pio 48 makes some really strong Negroni and Aperol Spritzes.

Bukowski’s Bar is a great locals only bar. Big couches, loud music, and great drinks. Located at via degli Ombrellari 25.

Makasar at via Plauto 33 has aperitivi to go for just €3.50.

Also nearby…
For beer lovers, Be.Re. at Piazza del Risorgimento 7.
For those who like fancy drinks, La Zanzara is my favorite. Located at via Crescenzio 84. This is where I do most of my Tipsy Tuesdays. Often closed on Mondays.

Other things to know

The pharmacy at Borgo Pio 44 should have most of what you may need. The pharmacists speak English. There’s another located at Piazza del Risorgimento 44.

The small grocery store, Carrefour is located at via di Porta Castello 15. This is also a great place to buy wine. Wines you pay $40 for back home are only $5 – $14 here.

Across the street is the organic grocery store, La Capra Rampante, at via di Porta Castello 36.

There is a laundromat at Borgo Pio 188.