What to see in Trastevere?
roma trastevere

If you are in Rome, visiting Trastevere is a must… Whether you are on holiday or just on a day tour. Let’s discover together all that this magnificent district has to offer!

 

Trastevere is undoubtedly one of the most famous and important neighbourhoods in Rome. If you are in the capital of Italy, you certainly cannot escape a more or less in-depth visit of this symbolic Roman quarter.

Trastevere is part of Rome’s thirteenth district and here everything will make you think you have gone back in time. In fact, the urbanistic style has remained intact and faithful to that of decades long gone by. The narrow streets, of which Trastevere is composed, are dotted with many small squares dating back to periods before and after interventions in the area.

Its name derives from the Latin term “trans Tiberim”, meaning, “on the other side of the Tiber”, the well-known river that crosses the capital, precisely splitting this place beloved by Romans and tourists from all over the world in half.

 

 

With a population of around 13,000 inhabitants, Trastevere is and has been home to many Italian show business celebrities. Many well-known personalities, such as Raffaella Carrà, Amadeus, Antonella Clerici, Lucio Dalla, Gigi Proietti, Renato Zero, Fiorello, Paolo Bonolis, Dario and Asia Argento, Fiorella Mannoia, Mara Venier, Renzo Piano and many others, have in fact had or still have houses in Trastevere. Others, however, are the faces of show business who have been Trastevere citizens since birth. Among these is the beloved and very famous Alberto Sordi, born on 15 June 1920 just a few steps from Piazza San Calisto and Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere.

Many films have been dedicated or recorded in this historic district. Some are “Campo de’ Fiori” with Aldo Fabrizi (1943), “Trastevere” with Vittorio De Sica (1971), “Fun Is Beautiful” with Carlo Verdone (1980) and “The Great Beauty” by Paolo Sorrentino (2013).

But now come with me to discover Trastevere and experience the real Rome!

 

🧳 Travel in and around Rome with gusto!

 

What to see in Trastevere
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For those like me who were born and raised in Rome, Trastevere represents the hub of so many events and moments in their lives. For you, on the other hand, who have most likely never been there, it represents nothing but a place like any other at the moment. Stay with me to discover all that Trastevere has to offer and you too will be fascinated. Get ready for a wonderful journey that you can make alone or in company.

In just a few hours you can discover every corner, every street and every important place in this magnificent district. Without, of course, giving up a meal with typical Roman dishes! What better place to savour traditional Roman cuisine? I’ll tell you… none!

 

1. Piazza Trilussa with its monument & the fountain of Ponte Sisto

trastevere rome
flickr, Jorge Valle

 

Piazza Trilussa is the starting point of our tour. This square pays homage to the famous poet who lived in Rome in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Located between the Lungotevere della Farnesina and the Lungotevere Raffaello Sanzio, the square houses the memorial dedicated to the Roman poet of the same name and inaugurated on 21 December 1954, exactly four years after Trilussa’s death. Next to his bust, one of his most famous poems entitled “All’ombra” is engraved on marble.

Piazza Trilussa also houses a fountain: the Fountain of Ponte Sisto. Originally, this fountain stood on the opposite bank of the Tiber. It was rebuilt where it still stands today after it was destroyed on its original site by a heavy flood in 1870. The original construction was by Giovanni Fontana and Van Saten in 1613, commissioned by Paul V Borghese.

 

2. Ponte Sisto, the Lungotevere and the monument to Giuseppe Gioachino Belli

Ponte Sisto dates back to 215 AD and was built at the behest of Emperor Marcus Aurelius Severus, better known as “Caracalla”. Originally the name was in fact “pons Aurelius”. The aim was to connect the two banks of the Tiber, which this bridge still does today, supporting the thousands of tourists who cross it day after day. In 792 the bridge collapsed and was rebuilt in 1475 by Sixtus IV. Hence the name it still bears today.

Ponte Sisto stands on the Lungotevere, which was built from 1875 onwards following the demolition of the palaces that stood on the banks of the river. It is on the Lungotevere, more precisely Lungotevere Raffaello Sanzio, that the monument and square dedicated to Giuseppe Gioachino Belli stands. Here you can admire the travertine sculpture dedicated to the Roman poet in honour of the 50th anniversary of his death.

 

3. The Tiber Island

isola tiberina
pixabay, valtercirillo

 

Connected to the two banks of the Tiber by Pons Cestius and Pons Fabricius, Tiber Island is the only urban island on the Tiber. According to legend it was built in 510 BC and then monumentalised in the 1st century BC with travertine elements that gave it its typical ship-like shape. In the centre, an obelisk representing the mast. Later on, however, a column was erected in place of the obelisk, which is now replaced by a regicroce aedicule commissioned by Pope Pius IX in 1869.

 

4. The streets of Trastevere

The streets of Trastevere will take you on a journey into the past, allowing you to breathe in the air of the real Rome as nowhere else can. Paved with cobblestones in fact, alley after alley and square after square, these wonderful places will make you think you are light years away from the hustle and bustle of 21st century Rome. Enjoy your walk, possibly without a destination, and discover all the hidden and unique corners that only Trastevere possesses.

 

5. The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere

trastevere roma
pixabay, lapping

 

This basilica is the centre of Catholic worship in the Trastevere district and is located in the square that takes its name. Considered to be what was most probably the first official place of Christian worship in Rome, it was built in 340 AD at the behest of Pope Calixtus I. Compared to how it was originally, it underwent several restorations that did not, however, change its essence. The interior of the Basilica has three different naves with 22 columns from the Baths of Caracalla. The gold carvings on the ceiling and the floor mosaics, typical of the 13th century, are very important.

 

6. Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere and its fountain

where is trastevere in rome
flickr, Ylizan

 

The Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere not only houses the basilica I just told you about, but also the Palazzo di San Callisto and a splendid fountain. The palace probably dates back to the 14th century and underwent renovations such as the one in 1434, the one in 1505, the one in 1618 by Paul V that gave it its current layout, and the one in 1854.

In 1870, the Palace was taken away from the Benedictines by the Italian State to be turned into a military station and a few years later, in 1907, it became Church property again. It was thus restored to become a Vicariate between 1964 and 1967.

The fountain in the centre of the square has an equally ancient history. This is thought to be the first fountain in Rome, the oldest one. Dating back to the Augustan era, it was placed in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere at the behest of Nicholas V on the occasion of the Jubilee of 1450. The structure and stylistic typology are typical of the 16th century. Originally, this fountain was not located here, but on the opposite side of the square from the church. It was moved to where it still stands today in 1652 at Bernini’s behest. Rebuilt in 1692, the fountain underwent a restoration financed by the City of Rome in 1873.

 

7. Basilica of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere

what to see in trastevere
flickr, Anton Skrobotov

 

The Basilica of St Cecilia is located in the square of the same name, more precisely where the house of the Roman martyr who was killed after her execution was ordered by the prefect. Her husband and brother-in-law were buriers of Christian martyrs and were executed by order of the prefect Almachius after he ordered them to stop this activity. After their arrest, they were tortured and finally beheaded. The same fate befell Cecilia as she prayed at her husband’s tomb.

 

8. Basilica of San Crisogno

In Piazza Sidney Sonnino along Viale Trastevere, you can admire one of the oldest basilicas in Rome. Presumably it was developed on a 3rd century Roman domus during the 4th century under Pope Sylvester I. Its origins date back to 499, when it was mentioned in the list of places invited to attend the Council of Rome convened by Pope Symmachus. The fact that it is dedicated to Chrysogno, a Roman martyr killed under Diocletian between 304 and 305, is not entirely certain. It may in fact bear this name simply in honour of a homonymous, former owner of the domus transformed into a basilica.

 

9. Piazza San Cosimato and Church of San Cosimato

In this square today stands a playground dedicated to little Claudio, who was thrown into the Tiber from Ponte Mazzini by his father in the early hours of a bitter 4 February 2012. The small square, located between Via Roma Libera and Via Luciano Manara, takes its name from the church, which has stood here since the 10th century.

Piazza San Cosimato is also the scene of an important and historic local market that has been held from Monday to Saturday for almost 110 years. Many vendors are still present in the market today who have inherited this as a family trade. In fact, it is here that the people of Trastevere gather to chat and greet each other as well as to buy, as if time had never passed in this district and the age of frenzy and modern super stores had not yet arrived.

The Church of San Cosimato, now part of the Regina Margherita New Hospital, was formerly part of a monastery dedicated to St Cosmas and St Damian. In 1233 the monastery passed into the hands of the Clarisse nuns. It was then seized by the Municipality of Rome in 1891, to be converted into a hospice and become part of the New Regina Margherita Hospital in 1960.

 

10. Villa Farnesina

villa farnesina
flickr, James Sharp – v. farnesina

 

Villa Farnesina is a historic building that fully represents 16th century Renaissance architecture. You will find yourself looking at one of the most noble and harmonious works of that period. It was built between 1505 and 1520 by the architect Baldassarre Peruzzi with the help of some of the most important and illustrious fresco painters of the time. Among them, the name of Raphael Sanzio stands out.

The home of Agostino Chigi, an important banker of the time, was the scene of many majestic banquets. One of the most memorable and famous was organised in the villa’s stables. Purchased by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese the Younger, after whom it was named, it passed through the hands of Charles IV Bourbon in 1735, Salvador Bermundez de Castro, before becoming the property of the Italian State in 1927 as the seat of the Accademia d’Italia. In 1944, it became the representative seat of the Accademia dei Lincei.

 

11. Corsini Palace, Corsini Gallery and the Accademia dei Lincei

Just opposite Villa Farnesina, you can admire the majesty of this place, built at the end of the 15th century by the nephews of Sixtus IV della Rovere. The palace was bought in 1736 by Cardinal Neri Maria Corsini, who renovated it into the palace it is today. Inside the palace are the Corsini Gallery and the headquarters of the Accademia dei Lincei.

The Corsini Gallery houses a collection of over 5000 works including paintings, decorative arts, sculptures, sketches and more, all dating from historical periods between the 13th and 18th centuries. The Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, on the other hand, is the oldest scientific institution in Europe. Founded in 1603, its aim has always been to foster the development of science.

 

12. Museum of Rome in Trastevere

Located in the former monastery of Santo Egidio, the building became the Museum of Folklore and Roman poets in 1976 after a restoration. In 2000, it reopened its doors to the public under the name “Museo di Roma in Trastevere” to stage photographic and theatrical works, conferences and concerts. The Museum’s collection shows scenes of popular life dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Very important, in addition to the costumes, dances, folk festivals and crafts, are the paintings, prints, watercolours and drawings depicting the life of the poet Trilussa.

 

13. Church of San Pietro in Montorio and Bramante’s tempietto

At the foot of the Janiculum Hill, on the beautiful panorama overlooking Rome, there is this church with Bramante’s tempietto, which houses important works of art. St Peter is said to have been crucified here. Built on an old 9th century church, this building was commissioned in the late 17th century by Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella the Catholic.

 

14. Botanical Garden of Rome

Located within the gardens of Palazzo Corsini, the Botanical Garden of Rome covers 12 hectares and is home to over 3000 plant species. It is now managed by the Department of Environmental Biology of the University of Rome “La Sapienza”. Among the species and sceneries present are Gymnosperms, Bamboos, the Mediterranean Wood, Palms, the Rose Garden, the Aroma Garden, the Fern Valley, the Mediterranean Garden, the Kitchen Garden, Aquatic Plants, the Monumental Greenhouse, the Corsini Greenhouse, the Japanese Garden, the Tropical Greenhouse, Monumental Trees and the Germplasm Bank.

 

15. Fontana dell’Acqua Paola

fontana dell'acqua paola
flickr, Jorge Rojas

 

The Fontana dell’Acqua Paola, better known in Rome as the “The big fountain” on the Janiculum Hill, was inaugurated in 1614 as the last section of the 57 km long Trajan aqueduct, built in 59 A.D. at the behest of Pope Paul V. Appearing in many films such as “La Grande Bellezza”, “Roma capoccia” and others, the fontana dell’Acqua Paola is a place that represents Rome as few others can.

 

16. Janiculum Hill

gianicolo
flickr, Marco Cinque

 

Not part of the 7 traditional hills of Rome, the Janiculum Hill is 87 metres high and lies to the right of the Tiber river. The name is inspired by that of the god Janus who, according to a city legend, built his city here. Here, in Piazza del Gianicolo, stands a monument dedicated to Garibaldi from where, in the evening, you can admire the immense beauty of Rome and, on clear winter days, even the snow-capped peak of Mount Terminillo. The Janiculum represents a place of the heart for Rome. It is here that lovers and tourists alike find a place with a magical and truly unique setting at any hour of the day or night.

 

Top 10 things to see in Trastevere
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trastevere rome map
pixabay, user32212

 

If you are in Trastevere but have little time, here is a short and quick list of the things I absolutely recommend you do and see before you leave!

  1. Janiculum Hill and the terrace of Piazza del Gianicolo
  2. Fontana dell’Acqua Paola
  3. Rapid tour of Trastevere’s streets
  4. Botanical Garden of Rome
  5. Piazza Trilussa
  6. Ponte Sisto
  7. Santa Maria in Trastevere Square
  8. Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere
  9. Square Gioachino Belli with its monument
  10. Square San Cosimato

 

Map of Trastevere Rome:

 

What to do in Trastevere?
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map of trastevere rome
pixabay, user32212

 

Besides the religious and tourist attractions I have just told you about, Trastevere is full of experiences not to be missed! Here you can jog along the Lungotevere, dabble in photographic activities with the splendid monuments and points of interest that Trastevere is dotted with, dabble in amusing escape rooms, and more!

Trastevere is a very busy area at all hours of the day and night. There are many shops you can visit, some of which are very special in their kind. Every corner has a club and there is something for everyone here, from the classic traditional tavern or beer hall to the more chic and modern.

In this area, during the day, you can’t help but bump into career men and women with their suits and briefcases. But don’t worry, it’s all within the norm considering that Trastevere is home to the Ministry of Education and the Customs Agency, as well as the Palazzo dell’Informazione. It is nice to see how a district so rich in tradition and strongly rooted in it, has quietly evolved and modernised to be home to some of the most important agencies and bodies nationwide.

The double face of Trastevere is also very beautiful. A place of work, worship, culture and history during the day and a place of nightlife. Trastevere by night changes its clothes completely and becomes a bustle of young people who tour the clubs to have fun and be with their friends. If you happen to be here during the night, you will admire the magic of Trastevere’s nightlife… At times very chaotic, but at the same time full of energy and joy.

 

Art & culture in Trastevere

Trastevere is also the ideal place for art and culture lovers. Here you will find places full of history and charm such as the Trastevere Theatre, born in 2009 from the idea of a small group of friends and artists. You will also find the Cinema Troisi, a unique space within a European context in that it proposes itself as a democratic and social space, where confrontation is a cornerstone of the experience for all lovers of the big screen.

Then there is Cinema America, saved from demolition by a group of friends in 2012… The same group of friends that allowed Cinema Troisi to reopen. From the same group of friends, moreover, the “Piccolo Cinema America” foundation was created. It is responsible for creating free projection areas in all districts of Rome during the summer months, thanks to the “Cinema in Piazza” initiative.

Another screening venue is the Cinema Nuovo Sacher, which for years has been showing some of the biggest and most awarded films, as well as works by small emerging authors or great authors little known in Italy through original language works and activities related to the world of cinema.

Trastevere is also home to the We Gil, a cultural hub designed in 1933 by Luigi Moretti in a style that fully represents the architectural style of rationalism with its large windows, straight lines and light marble. It is a place where important exhibitions, shows, performances, conventions, corporate events and much more come to life.

During your walks through the alleys of Trastevere, moreover, you cannot fail to come across the typical Street Art that characterises the neighbourhood.

On the other hand, if you are a fan of lesser-known museums, I recommend a visit to the “Museo della Repubblica Romana e della Memoria Garibaldina”. Created on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy, which took place in 1861, the museum is located in Porta San Pancrazio. It proposes itself as an exploratory route that evokes the history, places and personalities of the Roman Republic, a fundamental moment in the Italian Risorgimento, through the exhibition of works, documents, busts and educational and multimedia materials.

 

Roman cuisine

I know you were impatient to read these lines but fear not… The moment has finally arrived! There is no better place than Trastevere to get in tune with real Roman cuisine and savour its typical foods… Dish after dish… Bite after bite! Trastevere’s trattorias are one next to the other and above all they are all undoubtedly excellent, but to help you, I will list a few you can choose from. Remember that this is not a classification and that, in its own way, every trattoria in Trastevere is unique and unforgettable!

  • Roma Sparita
  • Da Enzo at 29
  • Grazia and Graziella
  • Antica Trattoria da Carlone
  • Impiccetta
  • Cajo and Gajo
  • La Tavernaccia
  • The Osteria della Trippa
  • Tonnarello
  • The Meridionale

If you also want to stop for a nice dessert, don’t miss the maritozzo and stop at Bar “il Maritozzaro” or “Maritozzo Rosso” – one of the 7 best sweet maritozzi in Rome and the only one to also offer them savoury! The restaurant is listed as Lazio’s regional champion in Gambero Rosso’s Street Food Guide 2022, so rest assured you won’t be disappointed!

 

maritozzo con la panna

 

Street food lovers will love “Trapizzino” in Piazza Trilussa or the pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) at “La Renella”, which at night becomes a popular destination for all the nightlife kids. Also try “Supplì”, established right in the heart of Trastevere back in 1979 to delight lovers of this typically Roman fried food.

Unmissable, especially on summer evenings, is the grattachecca. Appearing in Rome during the last century, this typical product is proposed as a proletarian and cheap dessert in contrast to the more expensive ice creams of the time. A real institution in Rome is Sora Mirella’s in Trastevere, followed by the kiosk not far away called “Alla Fonte d’Oro”.

If this is not enough for you or if you are a pizza lover, head to “Mama Eat” or “Da Otello” in Trastevere, or perhaps “Taverna 21” or “Seu Pizza Illuminati”. Here you can taste some of the best pizzas in the entire capital. At this point all that remains is to wish you bon appétit!

 

Events not to be missed
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trastevere
pixabay, user32212

 

Along Viale Trastevere, you can visit the Porta Portese market. Every Sunday, in an area between Piazza Ippolito Nievo, Via Ettore Rolli, Via Portuense and Porta Portese, you can find this market where all kinds of objects are sold. Ranging from antiques to new or second-hand clothing, to cosmetics and toys, plants, vinyl collections, household products and much more.

A summer event that takes place every summer is “Tevere Expo”. Descending the stairs of Ponte Sisto, immediately opposite Piazza Trilussa, you can immerse yourself in a Lungotevere full of stalls, kiosks, stands and venues that will make you think you are at a typical village festival.

An important annual celebration is the “Festa de Noantri”, when the Blessed Virgin of Carmel is honoured. It is undoubtedly one of the most heartfelt celebrations in the Trastevere district.

 

How to get to and around Trastevere?
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Getting to Trastevere by public transport will be easy!

By metro, get off at the Colosseo stop of line B and then continue to Piazza Venezia where you can take tram line 8 until you reach the Piazza Gioachino Belli stop.

In Rome, public transport runs from 5:30 in the morning until 23:30 at night, which extends until 1:30 at weekends. Should you need it, however, remember that you can always call a taxi.

If you have a car instead, you can reach Trastevere by navigator and then park on the Lungotevere. Be careful of the ZTL (restricted traffic zone)! Trastevere, in fact, is for the most part a pedestrian zone. So try not to wander through the streets of Trastevere, if you want to avoid a fine!

Alternatively, here’s a little secret for a true Roman. Drive up to the Gianicolo and park your car in the street between the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola and Piazza del Gianicolo. Just to the left of the Acqua Paola fountain, with the fountain behind you, you will find some steps that will take you right into the heart of Trastevere!

It only remains for me to wish you a pleasant journey through this magnificent district of Rome! 😉

About Author

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Daniele Centra
Ciao, sono Daniele! Laureando presso la facoltà di Scienze e Culture Enogastronomiche di Roma Tre, mi sto specializzando in tutto ciò che riguarda il food, il wine e la comunicazione scientifica al pubblico di questi splendidi mondi. Vieni con me alla scoperta di tutto ciò che l'Italia ha da offrire!

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