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Private Jewish Ghetto & Trastevere Tour

  • Group Size:
    Group Size: Private
  • Language:
    Language: English
  • Duration:
    Duration: 3 hrs
  • Start:
    Start: 9.00 AM
  • Price:
    Price: From 299 €
  • Cancelation:
    Cancellation: Free Cancellation*

Tour Overview

Discover the charm of Rome’s Jewish Ghetto and Trastevere! Admire the highlights of the quarter, explore Teatro Marcello, the Turtle Fountain, and the spot where Julius Caesar was assassinated in Largo del Torre Argentina. Your five-star guide will give you all the details about this intriguing corner of Rome, its rich food culture, and its best restaurants!


Tour Highlights

  • Jewish Ghetto (Roman Ghetto)
  • Great Synagogue of Rome (Tempio Maggiore di Roma)
  • Trastevere
  • Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere
  • The Turtle Fountain (Fontana delle Tartarughe)
  • Theater of Marcellus (Teatro Marcello)
  • Tiberina Island
  • Largo di Torre Argentina
  • Portico d’ Ottavia

What's included

  • Expert English-speaking tour guide
  • Private customizable tour
  • All tickets and reservations

What you’ll See Along the Way

Jewish Ghetto (Roman Ghetto)

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.

Great Synagogue of Rome (Tempio Maggiore di Roma)

The Tempio Maggiore di Roma is the largest Synagogue in Rome, and perhaps the largest in Italy. In 1870, when the Jewish Romans were granted citizenship, the original ghetto synagogue was torn down to make way for a bigger, better version which would be designed by Vincenzo Costa and Osvaldo Armani and completed in 1904. It boasts commemorative plates in honor of those who fell victim to Nazi Germany and to an attack by the Palestinian Liberation organization in 1982. The synagogue is not only used as a place of worship, but it also houses the Jewish Museum and is regularly used as a cultural and organizational center for the local Jewish community.

Trastevere

Trastevere, an exquisitely charming Roman neighborhood, is nestled snugly between the Vatican City and the Tiber River. In fact, its name “Trastevere” comes from the Latin “trans Tiberim” which literally means “beyond the Tiber” – as it is separated from the larger part of the Jewish Quarter by the river itself. It is the 13th Rione (or “district”) of Rome, and is symbolized by a logo boasting a head of a golden lion. The area boasts a variety of attractions including the Villa Farnesina, the house of Dante, the Botanical Gardens, and two of the oldest churches in Rome: the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere and Santa Cecilia in Trastevere.

Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere

The titular minor basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, one of the oldest and most impeccable churches standing in Rome today, is widely considered to have been the first Roman church dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Construction of the first sanctuary dated back to 221 AD, while the basic floor plan of the church was laid out in the 4th century. A majority of the structure we see today, though, is the product of the re-erection of the church by Pope Innocent II around 1140. The interior of the church and a section of its exterior facade are decked with dazzling 12th and 13th century mosaics.

The Turtle Fountain (Fontana delle Tartarughe)

This late Renaissance fountain can be found within the confines of the Roman Ghetto at the center of the modest Piazza Mattei, where the family of the fountain’s private patron, Muzio Mattei, lived. The Turtle Fountain, which was built in the 16th century, was originally used as a drinking fountain, sourced from the newly restored 1st century Acqua Vergine Aqueduct. The original version, however, did not have turtles, but dolphins instead. Unfortunately the design didn’t work well with the water system, supplying only a weak flow of water for the people, so the dolphins were removed. It wasn’t until the 1560s that the bronze turtles, often attributed to Gian Lorenzo Bernini or Andrea Sacchi, were added.

Theater of Marcellus (Teatro Marcello)

In the 1st century BC, Julius Caesar cleared a space and set out to build the astonishing Theatre of Marcellus, also referred to as the Jewish Colosseum. Though he didn’t live long enough to see its completion and formal inauguration, which took place under Augustus in 12 BC. The robust theater, which was named after Augustus’ nephew Marcus Marcellus, paved the way for time-enduring Roman architecture and clearly inspired the design for the 70 AD Colosseum. Once the most important arena of Ancient Rome, it held up to 20,000 spectators at a time for various celebrations and entertainment displays. Even now, although its upper levels have been divided into costly upscale apartments, concerts and events are held within its walls during the warm summer months.

Tiberina Island

The Tiber River, which flows 406 kilometers through the regions of Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio, is often considered to be the lifeline of Rome, as the city was founded here on its banks with access to water, fish, and a seaport in Ostia. The river’s only island within the confines of Rome runs 270 meters long and 67 meters wide and is simply referred to as the “Tiberina Island”. It has been connected to land from both sides since ancient times and currently boasts the 10th century Basilica of St Bartholomew and fully-functioning 16th century Fatebenefratelli Hospital.

Largo di Torre Argentina

Within the borders of the Rione di Campo Marzio, or “Campus Martius District”, of Rome, the remains of Pompey’s theater (where Julius Caesar was assassinated) and four ancient Republican temples are on display at the center of the bustling piazza of Largo di Torre Argentina. While guests get a clear view of the ruins from above, they cannot enter to walk amongst them- stray cats are frequently found mingling amongst the relics, though. Teatro Argentina, the 18th century opera house where the premieres of many famous operas took place, is also found along the border of the stunning square.

Portico d’ Ottavia

The ancient “Porticus Octaviae”, constructed under Augustus around 30 BC, marks the very center of the Roman Ghetto. The once enormous structure, named after Augustus’ sister, Octavia minor, was built as an enclosure for the temples of Jupiter Stator and Juno Regina, but the curia Octaviae, a schola, and a library were also located within its perimeter. It was damaged by fire in 80 AD and again in 203 AD, after both of which it had to be restored. In 442 AD two columns were destroyed by an earthquake and replaced by the archway that still stands today.

Tour Summary Get in the Know

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 of Rome’s Ancient Jewish Community

One of the oldest Jewish communities in 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 estates 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 dinings 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!

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REVIEWS

Private Jewish Ghetto & Trastevere Tour

What our Customers say...

Passionate about the history

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.”

So delightful!

Our family went to Italy together for first time and we were blessed to have Alessandra as our guide just for us. Tove helped to customize our all day tour of ancient rome and the jewish ghetto which was amazing. We highly recommend What a Life(AND Alessandra) and would gladly refer friends to them and use them again on future trips.”

Amzing Tour!!

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.”

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