South east of the medusal spaghetti railways of Termini station and sandwiched between the Via Prenestina tramway and the FC1 overground train line that runs down Via Casilina, the neighbourhood of Pigneto does
have a palpably “wrong side of the tracks” feel to it. The streets are grittily urban and heavily graffitied and there are innumerable groups of men loafing about during the day, seemingly with no especial place to go. But it is old wisdom - and a well proven fact - that a city’s poorest and most marginal areas tend to be the most generative of new and exciting artistic activity and, indeed, Pigneto is observably a culturally burgeoning place.
Seeing an elderly homeless lady kitted out in debonair head scarf, shaded goggles and red velvet heels epitomizes the area’s poor/artistic duality. And though it’s perhaps not the kind of place you’d want to be a woman alone at night, Pigneto probably is the kind of place you’d want to go partying with your squad. Ex Dogana (on Via dello Scalo S. Lorenzo) in particular is a club that seems to sum up the neighbourhood. While being extremely cool and bang on trend - having large art spaces and installations, live band music, vintage clothes stores, swing dance classes, cocktails and club nights attracting some major DJing names - it’s also housed in a disused railway station, beneath a motorway at the neighbourhood’s north-westerly boundary. This utilization of the discarded, this wilful and artistic triumphing, is what defines Pigneto and makes it so exciting. Mark my words, if it isn’t already the case, Pigneto is the next “It” place in Rome, and there’s probably no place I’d rather live in the city, even if I did prefer my loved ones to live elsewhere….
The neighbourhood is blossoming with vintage clothes stores (e.g. LaScala Blu) and trendy smoothy bars, and if you are lucky enough to get yourself some digs here (and your family are safely ensconced in some genteel Trieste neighbourhood), then at the neighbourhood’s northerly boundary, on a corner of Via Eleniana just before it meets Piazza di Porta Maggiore, is a cracking second-hand furniture store, Mercatino di Porta di Maggiore. Here you can browse the cavernous warehouse of wacky items and get some unique bits of furniture, perfect for decking out your new place.
What with the nearby - and most eminent - Termini station, the nearby overground railway flanking the neighbourhood’s westerly side and the tramway flanking its east, transport around Pigneto is actually pretty spot on; and, what with the new Metro C line (green coloured!) going in to Pigneto’s north, it’s set to get even better. Get in while you can!