Strolling through the streets of the historic center, on the corners of the buildings, you can see some marble plaques with a particular shape that bear the word "RIONE" flanked by a number, a name, and a coat of arms. They represent the 14 districts in which the city was reorganized by Pope Benedict XIV in the 18th century.
This article tells the origin, history, and fascinating facts about these districts: you will be fascinated.
Since ancient times, the city was organized into administrative areas. This organization had two purposes: evaluate the assets of individual citizens and the taxes they had to pay; take a census of the population to establish their rights and duties.
As early as the 6th century BC, Rome was divided into four regiones within the pomerium, the sacred and inviolable border that separated the city from the rest of the world.
With the expansion of the city under Octavian Augustus, the first emperor of Rome, the regiones became 14.
Except for the Transtiberim, the current Rione Trastevere, they were all located on the left bank of the Tiber.
After the fall of the Roman Empire and the decline of the city, the population decreased, and in the 12th century, it was divided into 12 regiones, called "rioni" in vernacular.
At the end of the 16th century, Pope Sixtus V carried out an intense reorganization of the city with new streets and fountains: the regiones became 14 with the addition of the Borgo district in the San Pietro area.
It was Pope Benedict XIV Lambertini, in 1748, who conceived the plaques to identify the districts and it was always he, a few years earlier, in 1745, who commissioned Gregorio Roisecco, a book dealer in Piazza Navona, to write the first tourist guide of the city: Roma antica e moderna.
In 1798, with the French occupation, Rome was again subdivided into 8 zones called Giustizie. It was the French themselves who had the names and the area they belong written on all the streets.
The situation remained virtually unchanged until 1871, the year in which Rome became the Capital of Italy. The number of districts grew with the increase in population and the expansion of the city, reaching 21. In 1921, the last one, Prati, was added.
The districts of Rome extend over an area of about 16 square kilometers and indicate the areas of the historic center of Rome. With the exception of the Prati district, they are all located within the walls of Rome, which include the Aurelian walls, the Janiculum Walls, and the Leonine Walls.
We begin our journey with the Rione I - Monti, where tourists and Romans meet for a coffee, a cocktail, or to enjoy a good dish of the Roman gastronomic tradition, in the shade of the medieval towers and the archaeological remains of the Imperial Forums.