The narrow cobbled alleyways of Trastevere give this part of Rome a unique feel. Everywhere you turn there are bars and restaurants with their tables spilling out on to the pavements filled with people enjoying a coffee, a beer or some authentic Italian food. Wandering around this picturesque old quarter is a joy with everyday life seeming to belong to a bygone era.
Crossing the river I ended up on Isola Tiberina (Tiber Island) not part of Trastevere but a lovely way to enter the old quarter. In ancient times the island, which lay opposite the city’s port, had large structures of white travertine at either end, built to resemble the stern and prow of a ship. In 293BC a temple was dedicated here to Aesculapius, the god of healing and protector against the plague, since then the island has been associated with the sick and there is still a hospital here. The church of San Bartolomeo all’Isola was built on the ruins of the temple in the 10th century.
The Ponte Cestio crosses the river to Trastevere, the bridge is inscribed with the names of the Byzantine emperors who were associated with its restoration in AD370.
The heart of Trastevere is its main square the Piazza Santa Maria named after the church of Santa Maria that still stands in the square today. Santa Maria was probably the first official Christian place of worship to be built in Rome. Today the church is largely a 12th century building and is decorated with some beautiful mosaics.
I loved walking around and exploring Trastevere’s small narrow streets, to me they gave a glimpse of the real Rome and how the people here live.
Of course walking around in the heat of the day makes you rather thirsty and Trastevere didn’t let me down there, there are literally dozens of bars, coffee shops and restaurants where you can stop for a quick drink or a full meal. Needless to say I did try several!
Having enjoyed a little light refreshment I continued my exploring around the areas quaint streets, walking, stopping and just generally looking round. It was a great place to relax after a heavy day of sightseeing.
Walking around Trastevere doesn’t take long and although very pretty I soon realised it wasn’t a big area. At the end of Via della Scala is the Porta Settimiana, a beautiful Renaissance gateway built in 1498 by Pope Alexander VI Borgia to replace a minor passageway in the Aurelian Wall.
The gateway marks the start of Via della Lungara, a long straight road built in the early 16th century. It also marks the end of my post on Trastevere, a lovely part of Rome and in my opinion best explored in the afternoon or evening when all the bars and restaurants are open. If you’re visiting Rome don’t let this area pass you by.