What do you get when you combine the buzz of a young international capital city with the quaint alleyways and characteristic buildings of a medieval Italian village? Trastevere. A neighborhood apart (“Trastevere” literally means “beyond the Tiber”), this picturesque area is home to artisans, expats, students, artists, and working-class families alike. But it’s the medieval architecture and small-town feel that makes it such a contrast from the rest of the city. When Rome was getting “modernized” in the 17th-century Baroque boom, Trastevere, then a low-rent area, was a left alone. The result is a maze of narrow cobbled streets, untouched medieval churches, and buildings that look like they haven’t changed in a thousand years. When you wander down Trastevere’s crooked streets, it’s easy to imagine you’ve stepped back in time. Come along with me as I share my favorite corners of this charming and vibrant neighborhood, from famous works of art in its glorious piazzas to hidden treasures tucked away down unexplored backstreets.
Piazza Trilussa, Porta Settimiana, Museum of Rome in Trastevere, Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere and eponymous church, San Francesco d’Assisi church, Santa Cecilia in Trastevere church, medieval synagogue
The tour starts at Piazza Trilussa. You can take the 23 or 280 bus from the Vatican; the 8 tram or 780 bus from Piazza Venezia or the H bus from Termini (plus a 5-minute walk west along Lungotevere Raffaello Sanzio); or stroll from the city center and cross the river at Ponte Sisto, a highly enjoyable walk. There are no metro stops nearby.
Places to stop along the way:
Bir and Fud (Via Benedetta) for pizza and craft beer, Da Gildo (Via della Scala) for authentic Roman cuisine, Antica Caciara (Via San Francesco a Ripa) for excellent cheese and cured meats, Innocenzi (Via della Luce) for freshly baked cookies.
Best time to walk:
Avoid the middle of the day in summer, when walking through the city can be unpleasant. Also, if you plan to visit the churches, keep in mind that some close between roughly noon and 4pm (and keep in mind you’ll need to have knees and shoulders covered).
Roman drivers are notoriously reckless, so take care when crossing busy streets and when walking on streets without sidewalks. Avoid anyone trying to sell you anything on the street and beware of pickpockets.
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