Are you wondering about the best things to do in Trastevere in Rome, Italy? I’ve been to Rome for a few times and Trastevere hits the spot for the authentic Roman vibes neighborhood. It has more character and medieval charm. I will share with you some of my recommended things to do in this popular neighborhood in Rome.
Trastevere is arguably Rome’s most endearing neighborhood. Romans still regard it as one of the most beautiful areas in the Eternal City, despite claims that the neighborhood is gradually losing its Italian flavor as a result of the rising popularity of American and international student life.
You’ll quickly learn why everyone falls in love with this magnificent quartiere, which is located “just across the Tiber,” as its name suggests, as you lose yourself down the winding cobblestone streets and dive into an authentic Roman trattoria.
By the way, since we are talking about Rome, I wrote another article about the best things to do in Rome. I encourage you to read it to know more about the Eternal City.
Read more: Best Neighborhoods in Rome, Italy: A Guide to Its Best Local Spots
Here are the Best Things to Do in Trastevere, Rome, Italy:
1. Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere
One of Rome’s oldest churches, Santa Maria in Trastevere, dates to around A.D. 340. What you see now is not representative of the church in the fourth century. Only a portion of the floor plan, walls, and columns date from that era.
Even the worship of Santa Maria in Trastevere dates back to before the year 340. Around the year 220, Pope Saint Callixtus established a kind of local church, demonstrating that the Romans did not always persecute and kill Christians. Pagan emperor Alexander Severus permitted open Christian worship there.
A few repairs were made during the first millennium after Christ, but it wasn’t until the 12th century A.D. that the structure started to take on its current appearance. Three characteristics that distinguish the church from the majority of Rome’s churches are among its many claims to fame.
The columns lining the central nave are the first of these features and give this church an incredibly distinctive feel. They were probably taken from the Baths of Caracalla. When paired with the church’s second feature, the golden coffered ceiling, the columns almost feel out of place. Together, these two features give the space a super-rich Robin Hood-like feel.
The mosaics on the apse behind the main altar, dating from the 12th century, are the third feature. It looks like a fresco at first, but it’s actually a sizable mosaic that has been embellished with gold. These characteristics combine to form what might be the most distinctive church in Rome and unquestionably the Trastevere treasure.
Read more: Best Churches in Rome, Italy: Guide to Its Most Stunning Religious Sites
2. Basilica Santa Cecilia in Trastevere
When in Rome, you should definitely take a look at the Santa Cecilia church in Trastevere. It was built in the fifth century and honors Cecilia, a female martyr. There is much to see here, including a lovely nave and an amazing facade.
The history of Trastevere’s Santa Cecilia Basilica is very fascinating. It is thought to have been built where an earlier church once stood.
That, in turn, had been constructed not only on the site of Saint Cecilia’s martyrdom, but also on what is thought to have been her home. The first Pope Urban I is thought to have built the original church in the first century. The current church was then constructed in 822 AD, though since then it has undergone a number of renovations.
The fact that this church is home to what the Roman Catholic church considers to be Saint Cecilia’s remains is one of its most unique features. Additionally, when her remains were examined in the 16th century, it was said that they were uncorrupted.
This indicates that they are thought to be miraculous, have not degenerated, and the robes are still present. The well-known Santa Cecilia statue was consequently ordered. This magnificent marble construction is visible in the church at the base of the altar. It is claimed that the Santa Cecilia statue is based on firsthand accounts from those who helped exhume her body. She is perfectly preserved as she lies in a sleeping position.
3. Porta Portese
Traditional flea markets in Rome have their own culture. The townspeople’s Saturday and Sunday markets have long since assimilated into daily life. You can find rare items that are only available here, designer clothing, dishes, accessories, and handmade mementos.
The tourists will be surprised by the variety of goods and atmosphere at the Porta Portese flea market. Even if shopping was not on your list of things to do, it is worthwhile to take a stroll here. When you get here, you can find branded goods from previous collections for incredibly low prices.
It’s important to remember that each product has a unique history. Thus, the thrill of the hunt and the sense of satisfaction from a well-made purchase merit special consideration in this context.
4. Belvedere del Gianicolo (The Janiculum)
One of the most significant historical sites in Rome is the Janiculum, also known as Gianicolo. When traveling to Italy and Rome, it is a wonderful place to visit and explore, but it is also a place that is full of mysteries and hidden gems.
Rome has seven hills, one of which is Janiculum Hill. It has a 292-meter elevation and is situated alongside the Tiber River (957 ft). It surrounds the Vatican City State and is situated northwest of the city center.
The view of Rome is breathtaking from Janiculum Hill’s summit. There are several ways to get there, including taking a taxi or a car with a private driver (which can be pricey). Once you arrive, you’ll have a ton to choose from, including visiting San Pietro in Montorio Church or having a picnic in the Villa Sciarra gardens.
Given how much history has occurred here, locals now refer to it as “the green lung” because of its lush surroundings and parkland grounds.
5. Botanical Garden of Rome
The Botanical Garden of Rome, one of the biggest in Italy, is situated in the park of Palazzo Corsini, formerly the home of Christine of Sweden, and on a portion of the Horti Getae, an ancient site formerly made up of the Baths of Septimius Severus.
The Vatican’s botanical garden, the first example of a botanical garden, is fully integrated into the tradition of gardens with significant scientific and naturalistic value.
Naturalistic varieties from all over the world are preserved in the current Garden, which is 12 hectares in size. Its collections are particularly fascinating due to their scientific value as well as how the environments are created and recreated. This can aid you in the challenging task of returning species to their original habitats.
The majestic secular trees, including eastern plane trees, cork oaks, downy oaks, Himalayan cedars, and more than 300 examples of more than 130 species, are among the main collections.
The Mediterranean forest, which is primarily made up of oak trees, bears witness to the vegetation that once covered the Gianicolo Hill instead of the bamboo collection, which is among the richest in all of Europe. Gymnosperm species like sequoias, conifers, pines, firs, larches, cedars of Lebanon, cypresses, and junipers are also noteworthy.
6. Ponte Sisto (Sixtus Bridge)
One of Rome’s most well-known pedestrian bridges is Ponte Sisto. This stunning bridge, which links Campo de’ Fiori and Trastevere, is breathtaking both during the day and at night. The Ponte Sisto connects the two areas, which are constantly busy with traffic.
The bridge was commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV, one of Rome’s most illustrious popes and a master builder. Both the bridge and the Sistine Chapel bear his name. Ponte Sisto was built by architect Baccio Pontelli and finished in 1484.
Baccio was a significant contributor to Pope Sixtus’ urban renewal initiatives throughout Rome, despite his name not being mentioned as frequently as those of Borromini or Bernini. A few of Rome’s most well-known churches, including S.M. del Popolo and S. Pietro in Vincolo, bear his facades.
Like most bridges, the Ponte Sisto is supported by four arches. This bridge’s central oculus, which permits water to flow freely as water levels rise, is an intriguing and pretty cool feature.
The bridge’s surface area and pressure are decreased by the oculus, which serves a practical and aesthetic purpose. The Ponte Sisto offers a breathtaking view of St. Peter’s Basilica both day and night.
7. Fontana dell’Acqua Paola
Located on the Janiculum Hill, the Il Fontanone or Mostra dell’Acqua Paola was created by the architects Giovanni Fontana (1540-1614), Flaminio Ponzio (1560-1613), and Ippolito Buzio (1562-1634) between 1610 and 1614 to mark the end of the Trajan Aqueduct. It was so named because it dominates the expansive terrace that looks out over the city.
Several places around the fountain itself feature dragons and eagles, which are the family’s emblems and were commissioned by Pope Paul V of the Borghese family. It has five archways, two columns on either side and a sizable pediment with a dedicatory inscription on top.
The decorative elements of the fountains were made of white and colored marble that had been taken from the Roman Forum and the Temple of Minerva in the Nerva Forum, while its red and gray columns were once a part of the St. Peter’s Basilica from the Constantine era.
The five original basins located between the arches were replaced by a monumental semi-circular marble basin at the end of the 17th century, when the fountain’s facade was changed by architect Carlo Fontana (1638–1714).
Read more: Best Piazza in Rome, Italy: A Guide to Its Most Iconic Squares & Plazas
8. Ponte Fabricio
The oldest remaining Roman bridge, the Ponte Fabricio, links the Lungotevere de’ Cenci in the rione Sant’Angelo to the Via di Ponte Quattro Capi on the Isola Tiberina.
The inscription in red letters on both sides of the bridge’s travertino marble arches states that Lucius Fabricius, the “caretaker of roads,” built the Ponte Fabricio in the year 62 BC. Fabricio’s bridge replaced the original wooden version that had existed since 192 BC and was constructed from blocks of tufa, a typical Roman type of clay.
Due to the two marble pillars that feature the two-faced God Janus, the Ponte Fabricio has also been referred to as the Ponte dei Quattro Capi and the Pons Judaeorum (from the time when the Jewish community in Rome was forced to move into what is now known as the Ghetto).
Nearly 60 meters long and almost 6 meters wide, the Pons Fabricius. It has two substantial arches. Nearby two smaller arches can no longer be seen because they are now underground.
Since we are talking about the oldest bridge in Rome, the Ponte Emilio or Pons Aemilius is the oldest Stone Bridge in Rome from the 2nd century BC. The construction of the bridge began in 179 BC. It was an amazing moment seeing even a single arch of it still standing across the Tiber River in Rome.
Read more: Best Castles in Rome: From Ancient Fortress to Modern Marvels
9. Villa Farnesina
One of Rome’s most opulent Renaissance structures, the Villa Farnesina is a mansion constructed between 1505 and 1511. The villa, which was built in the Trastevere neighborhood at the behest of a Siena-based banker, gets its name from Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, who later owned it.
The structure has two floors, two small wings, and a central block. Surprisingly lavish frescoes by famous artists like Raphael, Sebastiano del Piombo, and Peruzzi decorate the villa’s interior.
One of Raphael’s most significant works, the Sala di Galatea, features striking frescoes on the first floor. Astrological paintings depicting the star positions on the day of Chigi’s birth, the villa’s first owner are visible on the ceiling.
The Sala delle Prospettive, another stunning room in the villa, is located on the upper floor. The interior design of the room is based on the optical phantasm produced by the frescoes that depict Rome through the marble columns.
Read more: Best Palaces in Rome: Tale of Royalty and Nobility’s Power, Luxury and Art
10. Basilica di San Crisogono
San Crisogono is one of the oldest basilicas in Rome and is situated in Piazza Sonnino along Viale Trastevere in the neighborhood of the same name. Under Pope Sylvester I, the church was constructed in the fourth century. It was later rebuilt in the 12th century and again in 1626, based on a design by Giovanni Battista Soria, at Cardinal Scipione Borghese’s request.
Currently, the basilica has a massive four-columned portico in front of a baroque façade with a tympanum. Eight sculptures, including four vases with dragon decorations that alternate with four eagles, the family crest of the Borghese, are kept in the attic above. A spire tops the Romanesque bell tower from the 12th century.
Pietro Cavallini designed the church’s interior, which is divided into three naves by two orders of granite columns. The same artist’s school is responsible for the apse mosaic, and the floor was constructed in the Cosmatesque style.
The triumphal arch is supported by two imposing porphyry columns. The Glory of Saint Crisogono, a replica of a Guercino painting, is housed in the wooden coffered ceiling from the 17th century. The first church’s remains were found beneath the current structure during archaeological investigations in 1907 and later excavations.
11. Church of San Francesco a Ripa (Chiesa di San Francesco a Ripa Grande)
The first Franciscan church in Rome, the Church of San Francesco a Ripa, is now a sanctuary and served as San Francesco d’Assisi’s lodging.
The complex is located on the site of an old, 10th-century San Biagio-dedicated hospital for the treatment and reception of the poor. The architect Mattia de Rossi began a radical restoration of it in 1681. The construction was finished in 1701.
Two orders of Doric pilasters can be found on the austere Baroque facade. Three Latin cross-shaped naves with three chapels in each of the right and left naves make up the interior. The surroundings are typical Franciscan, lacking in pomp and luxury but nonetheless rich in artistic creations and memorial monuments.
Saint Francis was able to live and pray at the hospice of San Biagio, run by the Benedictines of Ripa Grande, during his visits to Pope Innocent III in Rome because of Jacopa de’ Settesoli, a devoted Franciscan devotee and friend. After his passing, the tiny cell evolved into a place of adoration and prayer, but due to the 1681 renovations, it was in danger of being destroyed.
Fortunately, the fierce resistance of the friars and the intervention of Cardinal Mattei, the Order’s protector, prevented the dissolution of the Order. According to legend, Cardinal Alessandro Montalto Peretti saw the Saint himself in a dream and stopped it from being destroyed. As a result, the Sacred Cell was preserved and rebuilt.
Read more: Papal Basilicas in Rome, Italy: Spiritual Heart of Christian Faith
12. Museum of Rome in Trastevere
The Museum of Roma in Trastevere is housed in the former monastery of Sant’Egidio, where the Discalced Carmelites lived up until the taking of Rome. It is situated in one of the Capital’s most vibrant and well-liked neighborhoods.
After being restored in 1976, the structure was used as the Museo del Folklore e dei Poeti Romani (Museum of Folklore and Roman Poets) headquarters, containing artifacts from the Gabinetto Comunale delle Stampe and the Museum of Rome that were related to Roman popular traditions. The Museum of Roma in Trastevere reopened in 2000.
The renovation made it possible to use the space in a way that was more in line with current museological needs, which was particularly conducive to the planning of temporary exhibitions, particularly of photography, performances, conferences, and concerts.
Through the tastes and ideologies of the artists and folklorists who represented it, the museum’s permanent collection highlights key elements of Roman folk life in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Costumes, folk dances, secular and religious festivals, and crafts make up the collection’s main themes. It contains a priceless collection of artwork, prints, watercolours, and drawings, including a few pieces from Ettore Roesler Franz’s well-known Roma sparita series.
Read more: Museums in Rome, Italy: Guide to the Best Art & History Collections
13. Enjoy the market
The quaint neighborhood of Trastevere frames the tiny market in Piazza San Cosimato. You can almost get the impression of being a real Roman there. You can really immerse yourself in Bella Roma with all of your senses just by standing in the picturesque piazza where the medieval church San Cosimato (built around 950 AD) is located.
There are numerous mobile stands that sell vibrant local fruits and vegetables like artichokes or Romanesco cabbage in addition to the fixed stands on the edge of the piazza, whose shutters are raised and lowered by the vendors every day (except Sundays). Specialties like sausage and cheese shouldn’t be absent.
14. Enjoy the local restaurants and cafés
A food tour is a fantastic way to discover Trastevere’s culinary scene and discover more about Italian cuisine. These two restaurants are located in Trastevere.
The best pizza in Trastevere can be found at Pizzeria di Marmi (Viale di Trastevere 53-59), which serves delicious thin-crust Roman-style pizzas. Arrive early (it opens at 6.30 pm) or be prepared to wait in line. It is not the best location for a romantic meal because the tables are close together.
Seu Pizza Illuminati (Via Angelo Bargoni, 10–18): This hip new pizzeria serves thicker Neopolitan-style pizzas with puffy crusts and is more stylish (and pricey) than the typical Roman pizza joint. A variety of traditional and inventive toppings, such as The 3 Ps—pesto, potato, and smoked provolone—are available.
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