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Unveil the Art and History of Trastevere & the Jewish Ghetto
Roam through a lesser-known quarter of the Eternal City and fall in love with its incomparable charm. Meet your very own Rome insider in Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere and get ready for an enlightening journey filled with intriguing stories, impressive statistics, and incredible artistic and architectural sights. The Rione di Trastevere, or “Trastevere District”, is perhaps the most charming, picturesque neighborhood in all of Rome. With ivy leaves clinging above streets too narrow for cars and clothing lines strewn with colorful assortments of hanging laundry, the ambiance is undoubtedly Italian. The friendly, bohemian vibes welcome locals and visitors alike, but its distance from the Metropolitan underground systems keeps it a bit secluded - giving it a far less touristy feel than you get in the city center.
Start your tour with a visit to the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, one of Rome’s oldest churches, widely considered to be the first Roman church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Here your local tour guide will begin to paint a picture of Rome’s rich history as you admire stunning mosaics inside, which glimmer and cast a golden glow all along the interior. Discuss the ancient beginnings of the church and the resilience to which it owes its existence today. Spend some time strolling the cobblestone streets and collecting insider tips from your cicerone! Trastevere is full of wonderful restaurants and shops, and it also hosts a lively nightlife. Once you’ve got a feel for Trastevere, we’ll make our way across the Tiber River to the very heart of the Jewish Ghetto – but not without stopping for an overhead view and introduction to the Tiberina Island, of course.
Discover the History Rome's Ancient Jewish Community
One of the oldest Jewish communities is the world thrives here in the heart of the Eternal City. But the area wasn’t always as lovely and picturesque as it is now. At the time of its creation in 1555 the quarter was undesirable and prone to flooding from the Tiber. This is why, when Pope Paul IV promulgated the Papal bull Cum Nimis and stripped the local Jews of their rights and citizenship, they were sent to this area to live. A wall was built around the ghetto limiting the mobility of the Jewish people. Discuss the harsh living conditions and obstacles that this Jewish community overcame and you will certainly admire their resilience! Nowadays there are about 14,000 members of the Jewish community in Rome – that’s a third of Italy’s total Jewish population!
Boutique shops, Kosher kitchens, and bakeries line the streets of this neighborhood, as a visual sign that the once unseemly ghetto is now a thriving neighborhood, rich with entrepreneurs and hosting some of the highest market real estate in Rome. Within the area, the endangered Judeo-Italian dialect, known by only 250 people in the world, is sometimes spoken, using Italian prefixes and suffixes with Hebrew and Aramaic roots. In general, the quarter boasts some of the finest dining in the city – but their fried artichokes are a specialty snack that simply can’t be missed! Stroll the streets in amazement as we celebrate the rich heritage of a neighborhood that has been a center of faith and worship since the Middle Ages and get a deep sense of the community within the walls of the Great Synagogue of Rome.
See Roman Ruins Including the Synagogue & Pompey Theater
Go off the beaten path to admire the lesser-known relics that have stood for more than 2,000 years symbolizing the reliance of Ancient Romans in the heart of the Ghetto. You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy this not-so-introductory tour – in fact, most visitors stand completely awe-stricken in the shadow of the Theatre of Marcellus, also referred to as the Jewish Colosseum! Though the open-air amphitheater was a direct inspiration for its larger neighbor, most people don’t know it exists until they see it! Learn about the origins of Rome’s first grand arena and the evocative remnants of the Portico d’Ottavia and other structures that once surrounded it.
Let your cicerone lead you through cobblestone streets and elegant alleys past Baroque palaces in pretty piazzas and admire the famous Turtle Fountain, which originally carried drinking water to Rome via the famous 1st century Acqua Vergine aqueduct. Explore the borders of the ghetto and get an up close look at the remains of the wall, which was finally destroyed in 1888. Stand over the archaeological gem at the center of Largo di Torre Argentina and discover the exact location where Julius Caesar was assassinated. Reminisce about the Ghetto and the remarkable people, culture, and traditions that have evolved from it – and finish just in time to grab lunch at one of the city’s top restaurants at the center of it all!
What You'll See Along the Way
The Roman Ghetto, also known as the Jewish Ghetto, is a picturesque area where elegant boutiques and exquisite restaurants are nestled between stunning churches, Renaissance fountains and Ancient ruins. The ghetto, which is the second in the world after the one in Venice, was established in the Rione Sant' Angelo (or “District of Sant’ Angelo”) by Pope Paul IV in 1555 when he issued the Papal bull Cum Nimis Absurdum, revoking economic and religious freedom from the Jewish people and designating them to this quarter. At the time, it was an undesirable, flood-prone area – but now it is considered to be one of the nicest and most expensive areas in the Eternal City with beautiful places to visit including the Great Synagogue of Rome, the Theatre of Marcellus, and the Largo di Torre Argentina.
Private Jewish Ghetto & Trastevere Tour
What our customers say...
We were blessed to have Alessandra as our guide just for us. She was charming and informative and sensitive to things that might be too overwhelming or "boring" for our 13 year old. We highly recommend What a Life and would gladly refer friends to them and use them again on future trips.
Carlotta was terrific. Extremely knowledgeable, funny, personable and very passionate about the history. She even gave us a terrific restaurant recommendation in the Jewish ghetto. If all of your guides are like Carlotta I would not hesitate to use your company again.