- If Rome had a favourite neighbourhood, it would be Trastevere. For centuries, the city’s traditional working class district has been the rebellious little sister to the rest of Rome. Trasteverini, locals born and bred in Trastevere, consider themselves a band apart from the rest of the city, even hosting a midsummer celebration all about them. The neighbourhood has been immortalised in films like Vittorio de Sica’s The Bicycle Thief, Federico Fellini’s Roma and Woody Allen’s latest To Rome With Love. Its rough and tumble charm has won the hearts of many, and it’s no wonder that everyone has wanted a little piece of the neighbourhood since the 1980s. A city within a city. . . The district sits to the west of the Tiber River and immediately south of the Vatican. This pear-shaped neighbourhood relies on natural borders to its east (the Tiber River) and west (the Janiculum hill) to keep it in place. Likewise, Trastevere uses the ancient Aurelian wall to define its southern/bottom extremities. The neighbourhood’s most useful point of reference is Piazza di Santa Maria, a rectangular-shaped square with several cafés, and the large Basilica di Santa Maria as its main attraction. Or else, head over to Piazza Trilussa, the piazza that links Trastevere to the historic centre. Three neighbourhoods border Trastevere: Vaticano, West and South. The hard-to-miss Vatican is immediately north and noted by the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. West is perhaps most recognized for Monteverde, a predominantly residential area with the large Villa Pamphilj park. The looming South district borders the bottom portion of Trastevere and includes most notably Stazione Trastevere. Know your neighbours Many Trasteverini still live in the neighbourhood but more recently the area has been filling up with expats and international students, in addition to Italians. In fact, Trastevere can count at least two American universities within its confines. This means you are just as likely to hear English behind the counter as Italian. Most bars and restaurants actively service an English-speaking clientele with most staff proficient in English. Your best opportunity to meet locals is by heading to the outdoor market at Piazza San Cosimato any weekday morning or grabbing a late night beer at Bar San Calisto. Also renting an apartment in Trastevere is an excellent way to meet Roman neighbours as many still live in the neighbourhood. Don’t hesitate to test out a grazie. Shopping options Trastevere’s shopping reputation is known for one-of-a-kind and unique shops for the home as well as clothing. Via del Moro, the conduit between Piazza Trilussa and Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere, has the biggest clustering of these cute boutiques, but many others can be found in the surrounding side streets, including Via della Scala. The neighbourhood also has several alimentari, small food shops selling fresh produce, cold cuts and dry goods, along with supermarkets. Most Romans will tell you to head to the market at Piazza San Cosimato for fresh produce, meat and fish. Getting around Trastevere’s medieval planning means the best and only way to get around the neighbourhood and to the historic centre is by foot. Trastevere is directly linked to the city centre at Piazza Trilussa by crossing Ponte Sisto and to its south by crossing Ponte Garibaldi (at Viale Trastevere and Piazza G.G. Belli). Likewise, it’s easily connected to the adjacent Vaticano neighbourhood by simply walking north on the Via della Lungara. That said, there are public transport options that network to other destinations within the city. Buses 23, 115, 116, 125, 271, 280, 780, 870, H, Trams 3 and 8 will bring you around Rome to Testaccio, Janiculum, Historic Centre, Villa Borghese, Piazza Venezia, Largo Argentina, Coliseum, San Lorenzo and Termini. Here’s our secret - if not feeling up to a short walk, the 125 mini bus takes you around the neighbourhood. You must keep in mind that traffic on this side of the Tiber runs north to south, so if you are interested in heading to more northern areas of Rome, cross the river and pick up a bus.
- Trastevere is a city within a city. The neighbourhood’s resilient personality means that it is complete with every social trapping a city could need. Private art galleries, museums and cultural centres mix with cafés, restaurants and bars, all set in Trastevere’s lovely medieval backdrop. Many cafes double as evening hang outs, with more bars opening after six in the evening.
Without a doubt, the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere is the gem of the neighbourhood. Its interior fresco and mosaic series are only surpassed in beauty by its exterior façade’s frescoes, best enjoyed at sunset. Trastevere is also home to several ancient churches include Santa Cecilia, on the other side of Viale Trastevere, with its underground 1st-century AD Roman home. Heading up the hill, Piazza Garibaldi and the terrace in front of the spectacular Fontanone boast the most romantic views of Rome.
Everyone loves to eat in Trastevere, whether in search of ‘real’ Roman food or a gorgeous setting. Head to the southern side of the neighbourhood for some typical Roman restaurants like Le Mani in Pasta or Spirito di Vino. If you prefer the area near Piazza Trilussa and Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere, Taverna Trilussa and Sabatini are tops. Keep an eye on ParlaFood and Elizabeth Minchilli for current listings and in-depth assessments.
Trastevere is known for its outdoor hangout environment and busy bar scene. Every piazza and almost every side street will have a small bar overflowing with seated and standing clients. Some to look out for include the arty Freni e Frizioni, Che Siete Venuti a Fa, with its collection of more than 1000 beer brands, Bar San Calisto, the traditional local hangout, and any open chair in front of Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere. If you’re visiting the neighbourhood between June and August, there usually is a pop-up, open-air bar next to the Fontanone (atop the Janiculum hill) and more recently a pop-up in Piazza Garibaldi as well.
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