Find out the most sparkling neighbourhood in Rome, among trendy clubs, typical restaurants and works of art: Trastevere
As you pronounce this name, you immediately think about the most original and sincere pictures of Rome, a city treasuring many micro worlds, as many little independent cities, in which life goes on according to its dynamics and moods. Trastevere is one of those worlds, on the west side of river Tiber, as its name says, opposite to the bank where the ancient Rome reached it biggest expansion. Nowadays, it is the heart of Rome nightlife, you can meet people of any age around its lanes, where to breathe the atmosphere of an area still treasuring its nature and essence, despite of time and of anything else.
When you cross one of the bridges going towards Trastevere, it seems your entering a new universe: streets become narrow pebbly lanes, you can see just a few cars, as it is a pedestrian area only and you can breathe the perfumes of Roman food from the original osterias, the typical Roman restaurants, furnished with plaid table cloths on the external tables.
Discover this neighbourhood step by step: get seduced by its monuments, its traditions and its candour by the day, and overwhelmed by its liveliness, its no-stop parties, its street performers among its squares, during the night, among its happy voices.
Santa Maria in Trastevere basilica stands out this district treasures, a gem of the fourth century. Ask some old people around the way to tell you about Trastevere magic: the church, as many other buildings in the area, is rich in extraordinary myths and legends. For example, it is said Pope Callisto I absolutely wanted the basilica was built in the point where the earth opened and oil came out, as a miracle. There are no historical evidences about it, but what you can really see is a wonderful church, furnished with an original 13th century mosaic on the front and an older one in the apsis, from the 12th century, portraying Christ and the Virgin.
The current structure is not the original one, because the basilica was completely restyled for the first time, using also recovered materials from the close Terme di Caracalla, in the 12th century.
But the most curious and peculiar legend comes from the church of the Santi Quaranta Martiri and San Pasquale Baylon. If you talk to the inhabitants of the area, they will tell you the church is also known as the church of spinsters. That’s because Saint Pasquale was the women protector, especially still single ones, who used to pray him to find husband.
However, also women married with men who didn’t respect marital duties used to pray him; according to the legend, one of those women saw the saint telling her the recipe of a miracle drink to solve marital problems, made of eggs and Marsala. This extraordinary drink, called San Baylon in honour of the Spanish saint, is what we just know as zabaione.
It would be impossible to list all the churches and their legends in Trastevere, but if you walk around its narrow lanes, you will easily see some religious buildings, every few steps. Stop one of the numerous old people in the area: he will surely be able to tell you about the origins and the popular stories about the churches nearby.
Getting in the delicious district, through Sisto bridge from Regola, the neighbourhood hosting Campo de’ Fiori square, you can see the outstanding fountain of Trilussa square, also called Fontanone dei Cento Preti (the big fountain of the hundred priests).
Built at the beginning of the XVII century, on Pope Paolo V’s request, it originally was on the other side of the bridge, in the disappeared Ospizio dei Cento Frati (the hundred monks home), as its name says. It was moved in its current position just when they reinforced the Tiber banks, in the 19th century, giving it a more spectacular effect.
The fountain is the second exhibition of Acqua Paola, the ancient Traiano’s aquedoct: the first exhibition is on the Gianicolo hill, the most famous fountain of Acqua Paola, just called Fontanone because it is very big.
If you have ever sang the song “Roma Capoccia”, by Antonello Venditti (surely you did), that one is the famous Fontanone he sings about in the first verse, even if many people think he refers to the Trevi Fountain.
The Acqua Paola fountain originally was the terminal exhibition of the aqueduct, but when it was extended to Trastevere and Regola districts, without enough water, it gave its role to the Fontanone of Ponte Sisto, even remaining the most beautiful one in Rome.
Cross Ponte Sisto from Trilussa square and have a look of Trastevere in front of you: on the hill you will see the great Fontanone dell’Acqua Paola and the Cento Frati’s down.
In Santa Maria in Trastevere square, in front of the church, you will see a very ancient fountain: the oldest one still working in Rome. By Donato Bramante, restyled by Bernini, it rises up where there was an older fountain, probably from Augusto emperor.
Despite it is a real museum under the sky, you can also find the trendiest and traditional clubs in Rome. Among its lanes, its ascents and its pebbly streets, there are many trattorias and osterias, loyal symbols of the tradition.
The most famous artists wrote history there, in those trattorias, where the Rigoletto editorial stuff spent their days, as nowadays artists do, sitting and having a big portion of pasta all’amatriciana, served with a great red wine from Castelli, a famous area producing wine, near Rome.
If you look for a very Roman and traditional osteria, you must visit Enzo al 29: it is situated in the most quite part of the area, but you will have to wait for a while, as you can’t reserve a table and the restaurant is always jam-packed. But don’t worry: while you are waiting for a portion of delicious tonnarelli cacao e pepe or of the great amatriciana, relax yourself and take advantage of the fresh air of Rome, at the sunset, when the Ponentino wind comes to refresh the hottest days in the capital. Do your best to get a table outside: it really deserves it.
On the other side, Trattoria Teo is in a more lively area, typical Trastevere style, tables outside and lots of house wine together with the great traditional Roman dishes. Trattoria Teo makes lots of experiments and they created the only one gricia made with fava beans. But if you talk with faithful guests, the best dish you should taste is tagliolini with lamb tomato sauce.
There are also many trendy clubs, fusions clubs and places that have taken inspiration from the Roman tradition to create modern and refined menus. Paris, for example: even if it is considered one of the historical Trastevere trattorias, it has been developed over the years, getting to be one of the most chic and trendy clubs of the neighbourhood. Furnished in classical style, it is the perfect framework for a tasty carbonara, the best there, as many people say. If you prefer an alternative cuisine, go to Sciapò: traditional menu enriched by some famous dishes as pasta alla carbonara, amatriciana or the glorious coda alla vaccinara.
The distinguishing feature of this restaurant is the absence of salt among the ingredients: why? The chef assures you this is the best way to intensify flavours and appreciate the quality of the ingredients.
Do you want to stay in Rome?
For this location we recommend Hotel Ariston, the ideal starting point to discover Rome!