This excerpt was taken from Australian Gourmet Traveller, May 2009. For the full article: http://gourmettraveller.com.au/pigneto-rome.htm
“When in Rome, do as the locals do: head to Pigneto. This dynamic suburb off the tourist track is abuzz with bars, cafés and restaurants. Discover one of the city’s best-kept secrets.
It’s barely after eight in the morning and the fresh fruit and vegetable market in the pedestrian-only strip of Pigneto is doing a brisk trade against a backdrop of closed shops and brick walls plastered with street posters and graffiti. Old grannies with shopping trolleys mix with the iPod generation to buy the freshest produce from vendors who sip takeaway espresso delivered from a corner bar.
Selling well on this cloudy winter day is puntarelle, a leafy green famed in the Lazio region (of which Rome is the capital), served in restaurants as a raw salad, its bitter, curly stems dressed with lemon juice, anchovies, garlic, vinegar and olive oil.
The buzz in Pigneto – a 10-minute, $19 taxi fare from Rome’s central railway station – comes not only from the morning’s trade; Romans are flocking to Pigneto’s ever-multiplying number of ristoranti and enoteche peppered along the isola pedonale (pedestrian thoroughfare) and tucked away in the triangular grid of residential, tree-lined streets, also home to groovy night spots with live music, poetry readings and more.
The historically working-class Communist neighbourhood is not postcard pretty like Rome’s historic centre, but it has shrugged off its reputation as a refuge for hoods and pushers to become the city’s latest alternative hot spot, a haven for young professionals – artists, directors and architects – who are fast outnumbering the older residents.
For now, tourists haven’t cottoned on to Pigneto, but that could change soon when work finishes on Rome’s new Metro Line C, which will connect it to the city centre. In the meantime, a tide of foreigners already calls Pigneto home, drawn to its dynamic but low-key vibe.”