The city of Rome is made up of various neighbourhoods/districts that each have their own sentiments and atmospheres. Twice a month, Enjoy Rome will be exploring these neighbourhoods and providing you with our tips to make the most out of your visit. This week we are wandering through the charming streets of Trastevere, one of Rome’s most interesting districts. Book your spot on our guided tour of Trastevere and the Jewish Ghetto to learn more!
The Trastevere neighbourhood, the 13th district of Rome, is an off-the-beaten-path gem that is rich in history and culture. Trastevere (which means “across the river”) is a unique district filled with winding cobblestone streets, greenery and even graffiti. You can find this charming area on the West side of the Tiber River via Ponte Sisto, just a short walk from the busy city centre.
The origins of Trastevere can be traced to Ancient Rome when it was mostly inhabited by sailors, fishermen, and slaves. It also became home to the city’s first Jewish community before the Ghetto was established in the 1500s. Fast forward to the 1970s, the culture of Trastevere is comparable to the 1960s counter-culture in San Francisco – attracting writers, acitivists, and musicians en masse. It is clear that Trastevere was considered to be on the periphery for centuries, however it is this position that allowed it to develop the unique personality that is tanglible in the district today.
Here are our Trastevere highlights, as well as recommendations of what to see/do before or after your tour:
Although Piazza Trilussa is located at the edge of the district, it remains one of Trastevere’s main squares. Here you will find both locals and tourists sitting on the steps of the fountain, enjoying a beer and listening to live music. On the weekend, Trilussa becomes a hotspot for Rome’s youth before they head to one of Trastevere’s many bars.
Porta Settimiana is an ancient gate in Rome’s Aurelian walls. In Trastevere, you can sip a cappuccino at the nearby cafe while observing this piece of antiquity.
Head to Trastevere’s main square – Piazza Santa Maria – to see Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere. The piazza itself is often bustling with visitors and street artists including musicians, performers, etc. You will also find it is a common past-time to sit and people watch on the steps of the fountain. The Basilica itself dates back to the 4th century and includes incredible 12th century mosaics. Experience Basilica di Santa Maria in detail on our guided tour of Trastevere and the Jewish Ghetto!
Basilica di Santa Cecilia (the patroness of music) is also located in the Trastevere district. The church itself was built in the 9th century and is said to have been constructed on the site where St. Cecilia’s home once stood. Inside you will find one of Cavalini’s most famous frescoes, as well as Stefano Maderno’s sculpture of St. Cecilia. The church was built during the reign of Pope Paschal I who also had St. Cecilia’s remains moved there from the San Callisto Catacombs. Book your tour of the San Callisto Catacombs to see St. Cecilia’s orginial resting place.
You can also find Palazzo Corsini in the Trastevere district – an 18th century boroque palace built by the prominent Corsini family. The palace now holds the National Gallery of Antique Art.
Also worth mentioning is Piazza San Cosimato. Each Sunday morning, the Piazza holds Trastevere’s only open-air market.
As previously mentioned, Trastevere has some of the most charming streets in the city. Many of the district’s cobblestone streets are lush with greenery and romantically lit at night. Enjoy Rome recommends Via del Moro and Via dei Genovesi.
Just above Trastevere is Gianicolo Hill where you can find some of the best views of the Eternal city. It is about a 20 minute walk up-hill, but so worth it.
One of the best things about Trastevere is that it has some of the most interesting shopping in the city. Here you will find a variety of flagship/concept stores and studios with an ecclectic selection of items. It’s a “you won’t find this anywhere else” kinda place.
We recommend the Almost Corner Bookstore for a wide selection of international literature and Polvere di Tempo for a magical mix of globes, clocks, etc. Also be sure to stop into Ferrara for artisanal italian food products.
Trastevere has emerged as one of Rome’s most prominent foodie neighbourhoods. Whether it is traditional italian dishes, international cuisine, or street food, Trastevere has it all. We recommend Dar Poeta – a quaint family-run pizzeria tucked away on a quiet street. La Renella is the place to go for pizza al taglio (Roman pizza by the slice), fresh breads, and baked desserts. Additionally, Checco has built a reputation for having some of the best Roman cuisine in the district. If you are looking to satisy a gelato craving Fior di Luna‘s selection of fruit flavours are some of the best.
Trastevere is central to Rome’s nightlife. On the weekends (as well as many weekdays) you will find the streets street buzzing with local youth and international students. As a result, the neighbourhood has cultivated an interesting variety of cocktail bars. We recommend Freni & Frizioni if you are looking to mingle with the locals and Santo if you are looking to try top notch mixology. Bir and Fud also offers a wide selection of Italian brewed beers.
Want to see more? Book your tour of Trastevere with Enjoy Rome!