Trastevere is the 13th rione (district) of Rome, situated on the west bank of the Tiber River, south of Vatican City. Its name comes from the Latin phrase trans Tiberim, meaning “beyond the Tiber”. It is famous for its characterful, narrow cobbled streets lined with ancient houses. Here are 10 things to see and do when passing through the area.
The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches in Rome. The floor plan and wall structure of the church date back to the 340AD while most of it was built in the first half of the 12th century. From the outside, it looks just like any other slightly aged Roman church, but as soon as visitors step inside they come face to face with the breathtaking beauty of the large 13th century mosaic covering the walls and ceilings of the church, making it a truly unmissable sight.
The Botanical Garden of Rome, located in Trastevere, is a real oasis within the bustling city. It is a large park that includes several different settings – the bamboo grove in particular is a must-see. There is also a Japanese garden, a cacti greenhouse and several other differently-themed areas of the park. If you are lucky, you might also spot parrots flying around.
This small, welcoming gelateria is a great place to stop for a cone of ice cream while touring the area during the day or having a romantic walk along the river at night. It sells smooth, creamy gelato, along with delicious crepes and milkshakes. One of the more interesting ice cream flavors to try is cinnamon.
Villa Farnesina is considered one of the noblest and most harmonious creations of the Italian Renaissance. The interior is decorated with frescos by Raphael Sanzio, Sebastiano del Piombo, Giovanni da Udine and other Italian Renaissance masters. There is also a lovely, peaceful garden where visitors can wander around. A truly unmissable sight for anyone who appreciates classical art.
This beautiful, Baroque-style palace built by the Corsini family in the 18th century now functions as an art gallery. It is situated just across from the Villa Farnesina, and is one of the host locations for the National Gallery of Art, making it a rewarding stop for those who enjoy Italian art. The collection of paintings was acquired in the 18th century and includes works from such masters as Caravaggio, Rubens and A. Van Dyck.
This restaurant, located very close to the riverside, is a must-visit for all pasta lovers – it is known to have the best carbonara in the city. The portions are huge and the house wine goes perfectly with the pasta. If you are looking for something more exciting than the staple carbonara though, you might want to try the pasta ai fiori di zucca (pasta with pumpkin sauce). The place tends to get really busy, so booking in advance is essential.
This square is a popular meeting point and a perfect place to relax whilst enjoying some gelato and watching passersby. There is a lovely fountain in the center, and street musicians often perform nearby. There is also a small monument to the Italian poet Trilussa, which includes a stanza of one of his works.
The church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, dating back to the 5th century, is one of Rome’s more interesting churches. The statue by the altar is of St. Cecilia, who was martyred in the 3rd century. A creepy fact; her corpse was found intact and un-decayed, complete with deep axe cuts in her neck, in her coffin in the 16th century. Excavations of Cecilia’s Roman house can be visited underneath the church for a small fee. It is a very sacred place for Catholic pilgrims but also a really beautiful building and convent to see even for non-religious tourists.
This lovely island, located in the middle of the Tiber River, offers great views over the water during the day, but gains a whole new magical, fairytale-like quality at dusk or night time, when the only Roman bridge that has survived, Ponte Fabriccio, is lit up. There is not much on the island itself except for a beautiful old church and a hospital, but the whole fun lies in the fact that visitors only have to walk ten steps to enter or leave this pretty, boat-shaped spot.
If you’re looking for quirky souvenirs, the place in Trastevere to visit is the enormous Porta Portese Sunday flea market, which sells everything from antiques to clothes – so prepare to bargain with the stall owners. The market opens at 6am and closes at 2pm, so make sure you come in the first half of the day.
Address: Via Portuense & Ippolito Nievo, 00153 Rome, Italy