San Giovanni in Laterano Rome: Hotels, Map, Sights
The area is named after the two joined buildings on Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano: the San Giovanni Basilica and the Palazzo Laterano (Lateran palace). The Lateran palace was once the residence of the popes in the middle ages.
Most tourists who visit the area do so for San Giovanni, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (a little further up Viale Carlo Felice), and the Nero and Claudian aqueduct, which also form part of the city wall.
The San Giovanni area is perhaps a little further from the action than most central areas of Rome, it is also very residential and therefore lacks that authentic Roman feel of cobbled streets filled with characterful restaurants and cafes that so many tourists to Rome wish to be a part of.
Nonetheless it is an interesting area of Rome to explore and is packed with history and religious relics. If possible book your accommodation on the Colosseum side of the San Giovanni area.
Map of San Giovanni Area
Recommended Hotels in San Giovanni/Laterano Area - Highest rated hotels by Guests
What to see in the San Giovanni area?
The original San Giovanni in Laterano was begun in the 4th Century BC but was twice destroyed by fire. The interior was last rebuilt in the mid 17th Century and the present facade was added in the early 18th Century.
The Lateran Palace (Palazzo Laterano), which is joined to the basilica of San Giovanni, was the official residence of the popes until 1870 and consequently all new popes were anointed in the basilica.
Across from the Piazza di Porta San Giovanni you find the Scala Santa (holy staircase) next to the Triclinio Leoniano (a mosaicked semi circular wall from the dining hall of Pope Leo III).
The steps of the Scala Santa are covered with wood and only the faithful may climb the steps on their knees. It is an act of penance usually done on Good Friday. The Holy Staircase leads to the Sancta Sanctorum, the Chapel of St Lawrence or Holy of Holies built for Pope Nicholas III in 1278. The chapel is home to many 13th Century frescoes including the Acheiropoeton, Picture Painted Without Hands - an image of Jesus said to be painted by St Luke while helped by an angel.
Facing out from the Basilica di San Giovanni to the right are the Walls of Rome. The very first gate is called Porta Asinaria and it was here in AD 546 that Barbarians serving in the Roman army opened the gates and allowed in the armies of the Goth Totila who sacked the city of Rome.
In Via Sannio (the road outside and running parallel to the city walls) there is a busy flea market where they sell new clothes, shoes, hand bags etc. The stalls are mostly covered and therefore operate throughout the year. This is a good tip for those looking for good quality well priced clothes.
From Piazza di San Giovanni down Viale Carlo Felice sits the Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (saint cross in Jerusalem). Dating back to the early 4th Century the church was founded by Emperor Constantine's mother. It has been a center of pilgrimage and houses some pieces of Christ's cross.
Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
Not 100m from Santa Croce in Gerusalemme is the Porta Maggiore (main door) an old portal of the city wall. The arches that form the entrance were originally part of the Claudian Aqueduct (aqueduct Claudio) which was then incorporated into the city wall. Parts of the original Claudian Aqueduct and its tributary the Nero Aqueduct have remained in tact and can be seen branching from the city walls.
A brief stroll from the Colosseum down Via Labicana is the church of San Clemente, dedicated to the fourth pope, St Clemente. The existing San Clemente was built in the 12th Century on top of another church built in the 4th Century which was in turn built on an old Roman temple dating from the 1st Century BC. The church is a wonderland of art, history and stories spanning over two millennia.
Getting to and from the San Giovanni area.
(Refer to the street map of the San Giovanni area above.)
Rome Metro: The main Metro stops are:
Termini is the central station (metro, train, bus and tour bus) and where you can also change Metro lines.
Rome buses: The main bus stop is at Termini Station.
For more about the buses in Rome see my dedicated page Rome buses and Rome public transport.
Rome taxi: There is a main taxi rank at Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano.
Rome tourist buses: There are tourist bus stops at the Colosseum, San Clemente and San Giovanni in Laterano.The Rome tourist buses are a great introduction to the city and the easiest way to find your bearings and choose your must-dos for your next lap around.
Note: If you haven't already heard about it on my site then the ATAC public transportation in Rome site has a great tool for calculating the quickest route from point A to point B anywhere in Rome. When you arrive at the website click on the English language option to the right. Fill in your departure address and arrival address.For more information visit public transportation in Rome Italy and its related pages:
Restaurants and nightlife in the San Giovanni area.
The area is very residential. For a more authentic experience of Rome nightlife, food and culture you need to head towards the Navona, Campo dè Fiori and Trastevere areas, or even the areas of Esquiline and Quirinal nearest to the Colosseum.
Finished with the San Giovanni area? Click on an area of the map below to visit another area.
Central Rome Italy Map: Click on an area to go to its dedicated page.
Central Rome areas dedicated pages:
• Aventine hill
• Campo de Fiori
• Piazza del Popolo
• Piazza Navona
• Spanish Steps/Spagna
• Trevi Fountain/Fontana
• Via Veneto
Porta Maggiore in San Giovanni in Laterano