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Trastevere area in Rome — top things to do

09.10.2020
Old cozy street at night in Trastevere
© Catarina Belova / Shutterstock
The unique, lively, and atmospheric Trastevere area is the perfect place to explore the real Rome. It is here that you can endlessly walk along the winding streets, admire the beauty of ancient buildings, and enjoy traditional culinary masterpieces. Trastevere is widely known due to a countless number of attractions, hundreds of cozy cafes and restaurants, as well as photogenic green courtyards and the magic of intertwining eras. Moreover, it is a place that always breathes with warmth, tranquility, and hospitality.

Brief History

Long before our era, the Etruscans lived on the right bank of the Tiber. This civilization did not contribute to Trastevere with significant buildings, although it was from ancient people of Etruria that the name of the region was preserved (from the Latin “Trans Tiberim” — “on the other side of the Tiber”). Subsequently, foreigners began to settle across the river: mainly Jews and Syrians arriving from afar, and the Romans who occupied this area later. In the 3rd century, Trastevere became part of Rome as a separate quarter. In the Middle Ages, the area was rebuilt and changed numerous times. In fact, gradually low buildings and narrow streets appeared there during that period. In Trastevere, the buildings of that time are still well preserved, thereby serving functions of the main tourist attractions.
Trastevere is a romantic district of Rome
Beautiful old street in Trastevere © Resul Muslu / Shutterstock

Things to do in Trastevere

You should start exploring the area with long walks and sightseeing. It is predicted that Trastevere will delight tourists with a variety of interesting places, picturesque streets, and cultural heritage sites. In order not to waste time, be sure to add the top locations to your must-see list.

Picturesque street view in Trastevere
Old bicycle in the form of a flower stand © ColorMaker / Shutterstock
Night view of old cozy street in Trastevere
The area of Rome on the west bank of the Tiber © Catarina Belova / Shutterstock

Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere

It is one of the first Christian buildings erected in Rome. Located on the square of the same name, the basilica is visited by tourists every day. It was founded by Pope Julius I in 340, but the modern appearance of the building is the result of many reconstructions that had lasted from the 11th to the 19th century. To fully appreciate the beauty of the temple, it is recommended to go inside. The inner space is divided by granite columns from the Baths of Caracalla into three naves. The interior of the basilica is striking in its beauty and luxury of decoration. The Avila Cathedral, located in the left nave, is tremendously popular as one of the unique monuments of Roman architecture. Special attention should be paid to the gilded ceiling of the central nave, the fresco depicting the Virgin Mary, and stunning mosaics from masters of different eras.

The Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere
Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere © Catarina Belova / Shutterstock
Interiors and architectural details of basilica
Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere © Isogood_patrick / Shutterstock

Trilussa Square (Piazza Trilussa)

Piazza Trilussa is one of the most famous squares in Rome. Its name is an anagrammed pseudonym of the Roman poet Carlo Alberto Salustri. By the way, the square has a monument dedicated to this person. The area is surrounded by numerous Trastevere restaurants and bars. Sometimes art exhibitions are held on its territory. It is nice to have a coffee, sitting on the stairs, and take a break from long walks here. In the evening, Piazza Trilussa becomes one of the busiest tourist destinations, as young people gather here in order to go on an adventure at night. Moreover, it is the place where you have the opportunity to hear the clink of glasses from neighboring bars, enjoy street musicians play, and walk around.

Mons Janiculus

This place is widely known in the whole world because of the stunning views that you can enjoy on the top of this hill. As a result, it is considered one of the best viewing platforms in the city today. The hill was named after the god Janus, who lived on its territory, according to legend. Despite the fact that Gianicolo (Janiculum) is not one of the seven hills where Rome was built, it is never ignored by travelers. For instance, you can come here at sunset in order to look at the city in crimson shades and take beautiful photos. Cannon shots are heard on the hill every day at noon. Also, tourists have the opportunity to find the IL Mausoleo Ossario Gianicolense memorial and the famous Dell'Acqua Paola fountain nearby.
Rome panorama at sunset
The Gianicolo Hill Terrace © Stefano_Valeri / Shutterstock

Villa Farnesina

Villa Farnesina is a Renaissance suburban mansion built in the period from 1508 to 1519. This villa differs from the typical buildings of those times, which is why it attracts people with its extraordinary interior. The best masters were involved in the creation of frescoes in this villa; the most famous of them ("Triumph of Galatea") belongs to the brush of Raphael. Most of the building is dedicated to the Museum of Architecture and Painting. On the top floor, which can not be entered by ordinary visitors, people can find the Institute of Graphics, as well as the National Cabinet of Prints. Fruit trees grow in the garden of the villa, and this place turns into a little fairy tale during the flowering period.

Interior of the villa Farnesina
Villa Farnesina with Raphael painting, Three graces © Sergey-73 / Shutterstock

Isola Tiberina

Between the right and left banks of the Tiber River, there is the coziest and most peaceful corner of Rome — the tiny island of Tiberina. Its length reaches 300 m, and its width is about 70 m. You can get to the island by walking across the Pons Fabricius. In addition to the picturesque territory, several historical attractions are located there. The list of these attractions includes the Basilica of San Bartolomeo, built in 1000 on the site of the ancient Temple of Aesculapius, the San Giovanni Calibita, founded in the 14th century, as well as the crenelated tower of Caetani (10th century). Cinema nights, festivals, and other cultural events are sometimes held on the island's waterfront.

The bridge to the left is Ponte Fabricio, to the right is Ponte Cestio
The Island of Tiber (Isola Tiberina) © Heracles Kritikos / Shutterstock

The Botanical Garden of Rome (Orto Botanico di Roma)

It is a great place to relax far away from the noisy streets of Rome and the city bustle. Orto Botanico di Roma Garden was founded in 1883. It is located on two levels connected by footpaths and stairs. The lower level is located in the eastern part of the garden, and the upper one occupies the entire western territory. Surprisingly, this place is often deserted and calm even during the high tourist season. Clean air, flowering trees, fountains, ancient architecture, and about 3,000 plant species collected from different parts of the world can be found in Orto Botanico di Roma. Major collections include a rose garden, a Japanese garden, a bamboo grove, palm trees, a water garden, a valley of ferns, and succulents.
Hill with fountains and Japanese garden
Gianicolo hill © ValerioMei / Shutterstock

Palazzo Corsini

In the depths of the alleys of the botanical garden, there is another attraction that cannot be ignored — the historic Palazzo Corsini. In 1895, the first in Italy National Gallery of Ancient Art was created here, part of which is now located on the second floor. In the gallery, you can find the canvases of famous artists, a collection of antique sculptures and medieval paintings, as well as many artifacts found during excavations. There is also an interesting fact from the history of the palace: the former Queen of Sweden Christina had lived here for 40 years (from 1659 to 1689). Later, she renounced her crown and moved to Rome.

Palazzo Corsini surrounded by palm trees
Palazzo Corsini © Chiara V / Shutterstock

Flea market Porta Portese

The traditional flea markets in Rome are a culture of their own. Saturday and Sunday markets have become an integral part of the life of the townspeople a long time ago. It is here that you can find unique rarities, designer clothes, dishes, accessories, and handmade souvenirs. Flea market Porta Portese will surprise the tourists with a variety of products and atmosphere. It is worth taking a walk here, even if shopping was not part of your plans. When you arrive here, you will have the opportunity to find branded items from old collections at very low prices. By the way, it is essential to note that each product has its own history. Therefore, the excitement of the search and the feeling of pride in the successful purchase are definitely worth attention here.
Old vintage items for sale on flea market
Flea market in Trastevere area © Sun_Shine / Shutterstock
Collectible books about cinema, comics and art
Porta Portese Sunday Market © Kraft74 / Shutterstock

Atmospheric streets and courtyards

The charm of Trastevere is mainly based on its cozy courtyards and cobbled streets, old buildings overgrown with ivy and grapes, windows with wooden shutters, and showcases of souvenir shops. Each courtyard of this region is like a portal to a separate small world, where echoes of different eras have been preserved. In order to feel the real atmosphere of a living, non-touristy Rome, you should definitely wander along the alleys of Trastevere and look into its most secluded corners. All you need is a camera, comfortable shoes, and a willingness for long walks.

A detail of a beautifully worn house
House in the Trastevere © sarawhite / Shutterstock
Cozy street in Trastevere with a retro car
Old street with a coffee shop © Nicola Forenza / Shutterstock
Red retro car on Trastevere street
Red retro pickup © givaga / Shutterstock

Villa Doria Pamphilj

Villa Doria Pamphili is a palace and park ensemble built in the 17th century. As the largest estate with a green park in Rome, it covers 184 hectares. The Casino del Bel Respiro is the main building of the architectural complex, as it houses a unique family collection of art, artifacts, furniture, and frescoes by Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi. On the territory of the park, tourists can find the Villa Doria Pamphili, gardens, ancient fountains, a lake, a stone tunnel, and picturesque boxwood labyrinths. In turn, there are flocks of parrots on the trees. Villa Doria Pamphilj is a must-see destination for admirers of beauty.

Labyrinths of beautifully designed bushes in the villa
Villa Pamphili and its secret gardens © sandrixroma / Shutterstock

Bars and best restaurants in Trastevere

Finishing the day with a delicious dinner or a good cocktail in an authentic establishment of the Trastevere area should be an integral part of your trip. Here is a list of the best bars, cafes, and restaurants that have earned the love of not only tourists but also locals.

Pasta toe with sauce on the table
Delicious plate of pasta with Amatriciana sauce © Pfeiffer / Shutterstock
Pasta with sauce, pizza, salad and bread
Authentic Italian cuisine - pasta and pizza © ventdusud / Shutterstock

Pasta e Vino Osteria

It is a homely cozy place with live music, where you can try handmade pasta, delicious desserts, and dishes of the national cuisine. The old recipes and love for traditions can be considered the main features of this restaurant. Be sure to try the pickled artichokes with anchovies and tiramisu, as they are often described as one of the best in town.

Pasta with tomato sauce in a pan
Pasta e Vino Osteria © scontent.flwo4-2.fna.fbcdn.net
Pasta on a white plate
Pasta e Vino Osteria © pastaevinoroma.it

Food factory

It is a must-visit location for those who want to taste the masterpieces of Italian cuisine at surprisingly low prices. This small but very hospitable cafe is famous for its excellent service, care for each guest, and a real love of delicious food. In addition to pasta, you should try the lasagna, pizza, and bean soup here.

Meridionale

It is an excellent restaurant with a great interior and a warm atmosphere. The place is small but quite popular, so it is better to book a table in advance. Here you can spend a romantic evening, drink good wine, and, most importantly, have a delicious meal. By the way, the choice of dishes in the restaurant is quite impressive.

Cozy restaurant with big black menu board
Meridionale Restaurant © meridionaletrastevere.com
Coffee makers on shelves, mailboxes and yellow table
Collection of old coffee makers and mailboxes © meridionaletrastevere.com

Fatamorgana

It is widely known as a small gelateria where you can taste delicious natural ice cream. This place is loved by both tourists and locals. A huge variety of flavors and additives will delight even the most demanding gourmet. It also serves vegan and gluten-free gelato.

Ice cream balls in a waffle cup with different flavors
Fatamorgana ice cream © habitante.it

Nannarella

It is tremendously popular as another traditional restaurant that can impress any admirer of traditional cuisine. Crispy bruschetta, carbonara, pizza, large salads, and a refreshing aperol — here you can find everything you need for the perfect evening.
Carbonara paste
Nannarella Restaurant © Vladimir Sazonov / Shutterstock
Pizza with eggplants and tomatoes, pasta with bacon, wine ...
Nannarella Restaurant © nannarellaroma.it

San Calisto

It is one of the oldest bars in Rome that will delight the guest with low prices and a relaxed atmosphere. Here you can enjoy craft beer and good snacks. The tables in the bar are located on the street, whereas the interior is created according to the principle of minimalism.

Freni e Frizioni

It is a great place where you can spend a pleasant evening with friends and delicious signature cocktails. Sometimes when ordering alcohol, visitors are offered a free snack buffet. You can have a seat both in the hall and in the courtyard of the bar.

Cioccolata e Vino

It is an unusual bar where shots with original names are served in chocolate glasses and poured over with whipped cream. In addition to alcoholic drinks, you can buy a variety of sweets and even books. Also, this place is loved for its friendly atmosphere and the high quality of provided services.

Grazia & Graziella

It is a small traditional restaurant where you will always be greeted with warmth and cordiality. Excellent pizza, lasagna, ravioli, and a variety of unique snacks will impress any gourmet. There are usually a lot of people who want to dine at Grazia & Graziella. However, standing in line for 20 minutes is really worth it to visit.

Parmesan pasta on a white plate
Grazia & Graziella Restaurant © oficinadeinverno.com.br

Tonnarello

This place is loved by guests not only for its excellent cuisine and generous portions but also for its atmosphere. The restaurant is located in a cozy old courtyard, and its summer terrace is a great place to sip a glass of prosecco, as well as enjoy the silence and a delicious lunch. Pasta, pizza, bruschetta, artichokes, and squid are well prepared here. Pleasant service will delight you no less!