When you think of the Eternal City, sweeping views of ancient ruins, countless frescoed churches, and imposing monuments come to mind.
But in the midst of Rome’s rich history lies the modern and geometric EUR district. Located just south of the city center Esposizione Universale Roma, or EUR for short, was chosen as the location for the 1942 World’s Fair, conceptualized by Mussolini to celebrate 20 years of Fascism, a destiny that was never fulfilled, due to the break out of World War II.
Today, EUR is celebrated for its Rationalist style of architecture and is an ideal destination for anyone seeking a different side of the city.
The architects of EUR designed every aspect of the neighborhood to project an image of imperialism, growth, and excess, and as a result, created a cityscape unlike any other in Rome. Construction halted during the war, but was resumed during the 50s and 60s, producing office and government buildings, parks, and gardens, all with thoroughly contemporary architecture.
EUR’s aesthetic design is essentially a modernized version of ancient Rome, with its most iconic building, the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (also called the Palazzo del Lavoro), a square version of the Colosseum. However, the district is still transforming to this day, with new architectural projects like Massimiliano Fuksas’ fascinating convention center, "The Cloud."
What to Do in EUR for an Afternoon
During your visit to EUR, don’t miss the artificial lake surrounded by a park boasting thousands of cherry trees donated by the city of Tokyo. Pack a picnic and dine al freso, or rent a canoe and take a jaunt around the lake. Make sure to look for the water's reflection sparkling in the glass exterior of the nearby ENI building.
Another must-see is the austere Palazzo dei Congressi. This palace is now used for conferences and exhibitions, and is also open to 20th-century art lovers hoping to get a peek at Gino Severini’s marvelous 1953 mural.
Next, stop by the Palazzo dello Sport. If you have time, squeeze in a few more sights such as the Grattacielo d’Italia—literally translates to “skyscraper of Italy”—the Palazzo delle Scienze and its two science museums, as well as the Palazzo delle Arti e Tradizioni Popolari, a museum dedicated to local folklore and traditional handicrafts.
As you wrap up your tour, look back at the center of the neighborhood, its white marble and travertine facade providing a stark contrast to the antiquity of the rest of the city. To get there, take the Metro B to the EUR-Fermi stop.
Suprising Cultural Treasures
EUR is filled with surprising cultural finds to explore. We've listed some of the most historic and notable for you to check out in this rationalist playground.
Prefer to see the neighborhood with a professional tour? Guided walks of EUR’s architecture, Palazzo degli Uffici, Mussolini’s bunker, Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, Palazzo delle Poste, the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, and the central park and lake are offered by Suerte Itinerarte Association. For more information head to . Tel 0644340160.
Palazzo della Civiltà del Lavoro
Locals have nicknamed this building the “square colosseum” for it’s resemblance to the original. The Palazzo was constructed as the centerpiece of the Esposizione Universale Roma and officially opened in November 1940. Soon, it’ll become the headquarters of the Fendi brand. Viale della Civiltà del Lavoro, 50.
Palazzo dello Sport – PalaLottomatica
Built to hold over 16,000 spectators, designed by Marcello Piacentini and Pier Luigi Nervi, this stadium was built to host Rome’s 1960 Olympic Games in honor the inventor of the radio, Guglielmo Marconi. Today, it hosts the city’s hottest musical acts. Piazzale Pier Luigi Nervi, 1
The third tallest building in Rome, this skyscraper is composed of 21 floors and is within viewing distance from the neighborhood’s lake, a green oasis that begs for a picnic among its cherry-blossom trees. If you’re feeling motivated, the surrounding park is a great spot to stretch your legs or take a canoe ride. Piazzale Enrico Mattei, 1.
The Luigi Pigorini National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography
This museum is divided into two sectors. The first is dedicated to both pre and protohistory, while the second delves into the topic of indigenous non-European cultures. Look for their vast collection of Neolithic artifacts unearthed near Lake Bracciano. Piazzale Guglielmo Marconi, 14. 06549521.
Palazzo dei Congressi
The brainchild of architect Adalberto Libera, this reinforced cement palazzo was completed in 1938 and was described by its creator as “the basilica, vast like a temple” for its imposing presence. Piazza John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1.
Planetarium and Astronomical Museum
Who said science is boring? Learn more about our planet, solar system, and galaxies with this museum’s vast range of interactive exhibits. That rare place where both children and adults will enjoy themselves equally. Piazza Giovanni Agnelli, 10. 0682077304.
The Church of Saints Peter and Paul
Built in Roman travertine, the Church of Saints Peter and Paul was originally meant to serve as the mausoleum of Mussolini. Nowadays, it’s a striking centerpiece of the neighborhood; the church’s staircase is long and shallow, decorated with geometric inlays, and at the very top, two statues of Peter and Paul observe the city. Another fun fact: the design plan is based on Michaelangelo’s original plan for St. Peter’s Basilica, a Greek cross. Piazzale dei Santi Pietro e Paolo, 8.
Good Eats in the EUR
Sightseeing is essential, but everyone has to eat. Whether it’s classic pasta, sushi, or luxe dining, EUR has it all.
Giolitti La Casina dei Laghi
Overlooking EUR’s above-mentioned mini-lake, Giolitti specializes in homemade, artisanal gelato. Eat yours outside in the garden or as you stroll along the water. A great spot for couples or families. Viale Oceania, 90. Tel 065924507.
Found between the Palazzo delle Fontana and the “square Colosseum,” Palombini is an ideal stop for those who love to indulge in the classic Italian breakfast of cappuccino and cornetto. Brunch is also served on Sunday. A favorite of neighborhood locals. Piazzale Konrad Adenauer, 12. 065911700.
This bakery and cafe is open all day, convenient for whenever hunger strikes. We particularly enjoy their aperitif, plentiful in finger food and bite-size snacks. Viale Europa, 52. 06592 4899.
Beat the pre-dinner munchies with a glass of red and a plate of cheese and cured meats at this cozy little locale. Viale Europa, 274. 065924583 .
Nestled under the porticos of Piazza Marconi, this restaurant specializes in Mediterranean flavors (the eggplant parmesan is out of this world) and traditional Roman dishes, including brick-oven pizzas. Live music in the evening. Piazza G. Marconi, 32. 0654226011.
Calling all sushi-lovers! EUR’s Daruma specializes in Japanese classics like sashimi, nigiri, and ikura, great for those who want a break from Rome’s carb-heavy diet. The tuna tataki with sesame and tempura rolls are our favorites. Viale America, 7/9. 065910067.
Ditch the classic trattoria tonight for this New York loft-style restaurant, complete with high ceilings and a chic outdoor garden lounge. Have a light dinner of grilled octopus or panzanella (bread salad) before going all out with a gluttonous dessert like spongecake custard drizzled with vanilla and dark chocolate sauce. Piazza G. Marconi, 23. 0659290077.
Yet another intriguing figure on EUR’s skyline, Il Fungo (“mushroom” in Italian) is found on the 14th floor of a former water reservoir. The restaurant owes its name to the tall, mushroom-shaped building that houses it, and its unusual position means you get an excellent 360 degree panorama of the city, from St. Peter’s Dome all the way to the Castelli Romani hills. Octopus with roasted artichokes, spaghetti with red tuna and Cantabrian achovies, and zabaione cannoli with strawberries for dessert mean the food is just as satisfying as the view. Piazza Pakistan, 1. 065921980.
In & Out
Refreshingly contemporary (the interior is in black and white and the dining room features a sliding glass ceiling, open on a warm summer nights), In & Out’s menu includes palate-pleasers like pasta with seafood ragù, veggie cous cous, and pistachio semifreddo. Each table is equipped with an iPad for researching wine labels before placing your order. Viale Oceano Atlantico, 271. 0698963236.
Shangri La Corsetti
This restaurant calls an elegant hotel home, which is great news for diners who can nosh overlooking the Shangri’s shimmery blue pool or in their outdoor garden. Recommended dishes: spaghetti wtih clams and bottarga, or black squid ink linguine with Catalan lobster. Viale Algeria, 141. 06591886.