Trastevere is a picturesque medieval area located on the left bank of the Tiber. The area escaped the grand developments of the nineteenth century which changed the face of central Rome and therefore is a charming place to wander, eat, drink and relax. The name derives from the Latin words: “Trans Tiberim”, beyond the Tiber river. This charming area is sheltered under the heights of the Janiculum Hill. In ancient times it was the artisan area, placed here for the trade that came from Ostia and was unloaded nearby. It was populated by fishermen and sailors but also immigrants from the east, mainly Syrians and and later Jews. The Jewish community stayed here well into the middle ages, but as the city’s population suffered a major decrease, the jewish traders left the area, and the entire suburb was left almost deserted for the next few centuries. Nowadays the area is a long way from the working-class quarter it used to be. It is trendy and avant-guard but it still maintains its unmistakable old-school charm. As you stroll through its maze of cobblestoned streets and squares you will find some of Rome’s most fascinating medieval churches. It is also the area favoured by the city’s artistic crowd, famous people and foreign ex pats. The area has become the focus of the city’s alternative scene and it has a vibrant and youthful nightlife. If you’re a food lover, Trastevere is the place for you. Here you can find some of the best restaurants in Rome, no matter what your budget is!
PLACES TO SEE:
Santa Maria in Trastevere. Probably one of the first official Christian places of worship to be built in Rome. Established around 220 A.D. Pope Callixtus I founded the church and Pope Julius significantly expanded the building in 340 AD. The greater part of the structure now dates from 1140, after a rebuilding by Innocent II, a pope from Trastevere. The church’s mosaics are among the city’s most impressive! The golden mosaics on the facade of the church are even more impressive at night when illuminated.
Not to be missed!! The piazza has become a favoured hang out to catch up with friends.
Santa Cecilia. One of Rome’s most interesting churches. St Cecilia, aristocrat and patron saint of music was martyred here in 230 AD. According to tradition she suffered a particularly cruel death. She was scalded, suffocated and beheaded. Legend has it that she continued to sing throughout her martyrdom thus becoming the patron saint of music. A church was founded on the site of her house, around the IV century. Her body was found in the catacombs of Saint Callisto and was buried here in the IX century, and the church was rebuilt at that time. A statue of the saint below the high altar depicts her incorruptible body as it was found when exhumed, with three deep cuts in her neck. Excavations of Cecilia’s Roman house can be toured underneath the church. Notable artworks in the church include The Last Judgment by Pietro Cavallini (c. 1293) and a baldachino by Arnolfo di Cambio over the altar (late 1200s).
Ponte Sisto. Named after Pope Sixtus IV, who commissioned it, to replace the old Roman bridge. The bridge is characteristic because of its central ‘Occulus’ or eye, and has been featured in films, music videos and adverts. Personally, my favourite!
Farmacia della Scala. The most traditional pharmacy in Trastevere, located in Piazza della Scala. It dates back to the 17th century and it’s still run by monks from the adjacent church.
Piazza Trilussa. It is a relatively small piazza, but it bustles with life as the sun goes down. Tourists and locals like to meet up in this square to catch up. So grab a drink and head to this piazza to relax with your friends. It’s also a great spot for people watching!
PLACES TO EAT:
Taverna Trilussa. Definitely one of my favourite restaurants in Rome. The pasta is delicious and it is brought out in the metal pans it is cooked in. They have many Roman specialities. Great meat and wonderful antipastos. Outdoors there is a large patio area draped with ivy and romantically-lit.
Checco er Carrettiere. This is a restaurant you must try if you want great, authentic Roman cuisine. One of the best “amatriciana” in Rome!
Da Lucia. This is a simple unfussy taverna. An authentic little trattoria, established in 1938 and situated in one of the most charming parts of Trastevere. The menu is very traditional and it changes daily, in order to offer you the best, fresh products every day. It is frequented by locals, so you know you are getting the real deal here! It is family run, with four generations of the family working here, and they will definitely make you feel at home.
Pianostrada. It is a casual cafè in the heart of Trastevere. Run by four lovely women. They serve quality food made with great ingredients. Here you can find salads, sandwiches, pasta, snacks and sweets. The food is prepared in an open kitchen and you can either eat at the bar or at one of the high wooden tables. They mainly use products from Lazio and they bake their own bread, biscuits, krapfen and cakes. The portions are quite large but make sure you leave some room for dessert!! I haven’t tried everything on their menu because it changes daily but that is my plan! Everyhing I’ve had so far was mouthwatering delicious!
What more can I say… Put on your comfy shoes and start wandering through the enchanting little alleys of Trastevere! It’s an experience you will never forget!