Featured in almost every Rome-based film, the picturesque neighbourhood of Trastevere epitomises Roman charm. Laundry hangs between ivy covered buildings whilst locals and travellers mingle in the cobblestone streets below. The area buzzes all day and, at sundown, a nightlife crowd takes over the streets, spilling out from local establishments. Located on the West bank of the Tiber River (hence its name, which literally means “across the River”) Trastevere offers Roman authenticity to visitors with a wide variety of things to see and do – as well as great places for food & drinks! Follow our guide and make sure you don’t miss the highlights!
Things to See & Do
Climb Janiculum Hill for a panoramic view of The Eternal City. You might recognize the peak of Rome’s famous hill from the opening scene of “La Grande Bellezza”. Take in one of the most stunning perspectives of Rome below, while also admiring the magnificent Acqua Paolo Fountain, which is perched on top of the hill.
Visit the Church & Piazza of Santa Maria in Trastevere. This is the heart of Trastevere, boasting one of the oldest churches in Rome, which dates back to the 4th century. You’ll likely find street performers entertaining spectators who watch from the fountain steps or the bordering cafés.
Admire Raphael’s stunning frescoes at Villa Farnesina. This fascinating 16th century Renaissance villa, located on Via della Lungara, houses a fine collection of art, the ultimate highlight of which are Raphael’s ground floor frescoes of “Cupid and Psyche” and “Triumph of Galatea”. The villa is open to visitors Monday – Saturday, 9am-2pm, and full priced tickets are only 6 euro.
Explore the Botanical Gardens. Rome’s “Orto Botanico” (and its 30 acres of lush greenery) are actually part of the University of La Sapienza, but welcome visitors from every corner of the world with the purchase of an 8 euro ticket. They are open all week, except for Sundays. From March to October hours are 9am – 6:30pm, while from November to February they are 9am-7:30pm.
Get an up-close look at a Bernini’s controversial masterpiece. Hidden amongst the winding backstreets of Trastevere, the Church of San Francesco a Ripa houses a magnificent work of art by Rome’s favourite sculptor, Bernini. The “Ecstasy of Beata Ludovica Albertoni” is considered to be one of Bernini’s most provocative works – and you will see why!
Shop Rome’s biggest Sunday Market: Porta Portese. If you fancy yourself a bit of a treasure hunter or bargain shopper, then you’re in for a real treat. This antique-lover’s dream spans for blocks from sunrise until about 2pm every Sunday, boasting everything from artisanal goods, used clothing stalls, home décor, unique souvenirs, and authentic Italian antiques! Don’t be afraid to barter on the prices here.
Soak up the atmosphere at Piazza Trilussa. This square, located on the bank of the Tiber, is an inlet to the neighbourhood, where people pass through or stop to rest and enjoy a drink or bite to eat on the steps of the fountain. You’ll likely find artists or musicians set up here on most sunny summer days.
Where to Eat
Caffé Settimiano. A classic Roman Bar (and, in Italy, a “bar” is more like a “café”) – the perfect place where locals come to grab their morning cappuccino and “cornetto” (the Italian version of a croissant). Other simply scrumptious options include fresh squeezed juice and panini made fresh daily. If you decide to return, the staff pride themselves on being able to remember every customers order – so feel free to put them to the test!
Pizzeria Dar Poeta. This wood-oven pizzeria follows a traditional recipe which makes their pizza truly unique – but nonetheless authentic. Fresh ingredients perfectly combine to make pizzas that are undeniably delicious!
IVO a Trastevere. For a no-frills Authentic Roman meal, head to IVO! While best known for their pizzas, the also serve up classic pastas and even traditional side dishes like “Carciofi alla Romana” (Roman artichokes) when they’re in season. Reasonable prices and charismatic service are just icing on the proverbial cake.
Trapizzino. A less traditional but ever-authentic option is taking over the Italian food scene. Fresh ingredients are slow cooked into wondrous concoctions (like “Chicken Cacciatore” or “Beef Bolognese”) which are added to a fresh bread pocket when you order. These fresh, hot, homemade delights cost only 4 euro each, and are a perfect casual snack to take with you as you explore Trastevere or relax in the nearby Piazza Trilussa.
Supplì. At Via di San Francesco a Ripa 137, three Italian gents Giacomo, Enrico, and Loreto put their hearts into making you the tastiest Italian snacks in town: supplì! These small, savoury treats are traditionally composed of fried balls of rice with a bit of meat sauce and a gooey mozzarella centre. These guys offer up a whole different variety, though, as well as fresh pastas and more.
Fatamorgana. Authentic Italian gelato for everyone’s sweet tooth – including some vegan and gluten-free options! Fatamorgana uses fresh ingredients to concoct classic crowd-pleasing flavours, as well as some funky favourites like “Rose with Black Rice” and “Chocolate Wasabi”.
Le Levain. While the Italians’ commitment to keeping their food traditions alive is certainly admirable, we know that not everyone wants to eat Italian food all the time. Nestled in Trastevere is a prime option for some French gastronomy at the French bakery, Le Levain. Tiny cakes, delectable sandwiches, and classic French croissants can all be found in this hidden gem.
Grab a Drink
Baylon Café. While Baylon is a viable option for anything from breakfast to lunch or even dinner, we most highly recommend their cocktails. The drinks menu spans from classics to house mixologists’ creations – and the cost of one drink includes a turn through the buffet at happy hour!
8 MIllimetri. This quirky hole in the wall serves beer, wine, and creative cocktails in the heart of Trastevere. Relax on a vintage couch or school desk chair and enjoy the well-curated music playlist. At happy hour, they’ll bring you a plate (or, rather, slate) of delicious snacks with your cocktail!
We hope you enjoy your time in Trastevere! Tell us what you think of our suggestions and let us know about your favourite spots in Trastevere in the comments below!
For a specialized private tour of Trastevere, or any part of Rome, contact us at www.whatalifetours.com
Author: April Nicole
April is an American writer and photographer who has lived in Rome since 2013. She enjoys exploring the museums of the city, as well as indulging in authentic Italian cuisine!