What to see and do in Trastevere
After visiting the most beautiful attractions of Rome, you absolutely can’t miss a walking tour to discover the beautiful Trastevere. Located on the west bank of the Tiber, close to the city centre and just south of Vatican City, it is a medieval neighbourhood full of charm and history.
Trastevere, with its characteristic narrow cobbled streets and alleys, its beautiful spots and colourful medieval houses, still preserves a strong local identity.
The best moment to explore this Roman jewel is early in the morning when the many tourists don’t crowd the street yet, anyway it’s not difficult to step off the main routes and escape the huddle.
Trastevere is also famous for its excellent local restaurants and bars so you must come back in the late evening to enjoy its bustling nightlife.
Our Trastevere walking tour
1) Campo de’ Fiori Market
Before getting to Trastevere, our tour starts from Campo de’ Fiori market, one of the oldest of Rome. This vibrant local market takes place every day since 1869 (except on Sunday) in a small square surrounded by old houses and filled with colourful stalls selling fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, fresh fish, flowers but also legumes, rice, dried fruit, nuts, spices and local products like Roman artichokes.
This square is also famous because on 17 February 1600, the philosopher and Dominican friar Giordano Bruno was burned here alive, accused of heresy by the Church for his revolutionary theories on the universe. A statue is placed in the centre of the square in memory of the philosopher.
2) Ponte Sisto and Piazza Trilussa
Leaving the market, in an only 10-minute walk, we arrive at the first spot of Trastevere: crossing Ponte Sisto stone footbridge we are now in Piazza Trilussa (Trilussa square).
This small square owes its name to the Roman poet Carlo Alberto Salustri, better known by his pen name of Trilussa and boats an old beautiful fountain and monument dedicated to the poet.
The fountain is made with a wall of travertine blocks and the arch, enclosed between columns and pillars with smooth ashlar, dates back to 1613.
3) Porta Settimiana
Keep walking on our right, we get to Porta Settimiana (Settimiana gate), one of the three ancient gateways in the Aurelian walls on this side of the Tiber.
The present gate was rebuilt, with its characteristic Ghibelline battlements, by Pope Alexander VI Borgia in 1498 and it marks the beginning of Via della Lungara.
4) Villa Farnesina and Palazzo Corsini
Walking through Porta Settimiana, after 300 meters, is located the beautiful renaissance Villa Farnesina. Not to be missed is the visit of this jewel of Trastevere that boasts incredible frescoes by artists such as Baldassarre Peruzzi and Raffaello (ticket entrance: 10 euros with audio-guide-you also need to show an identity document).
In front of Villa Farnesina, there is Palazzo Corsini, built in the 15th century for Cardinal Riario, nephew of Sixtus IV and bought and enlarged by the Florentine cardinal Neri Maria Corsini in 1736.
Currently, Palazzo Corsini houses the library of the Royal Academy of the Lincei and the Gallery of Ancient Art, consisting of the Corsini collection with some works on display made by various renowned artists including Beato Angelico and Caravaggio (ticket entrance: 12 euros).
Right behind Palazzo Corsini, there is the big Botanical Garden of Rome, an oasis with more than 7000 plant species.
5) Via della Scala, Vicolo del Cinque and Via del Moro
Going back to Porta Settimiana, we keep walking along Via della Scala and Piazza della Scala with its colored houses, then we turn on the left taking Vicolo del Cinque that owes its name from the building owned by the ancient noble Roman family of the “del Cinque” located at the corner with via del Moro.
In the evenings, this street is vibrant with busy restaurants overflowing into the street. At the end of this narrow street, we turn right walking along Via del Moro, dotted with buildings in various architectural styles from the medieval period to the 17th century through to the Renaissance.
This street owes its name to takes its name from the historical Caffè del Moro, one of the oldest cafes still in activity in Italy. The cafe opened at the end of the 19th century, and it still has its original sign in painted wrought iron on which two Bersaglieri (special trained Italian soldiers of infantry) and a sailor intent on offering a glass of liqueur to three young Abyssinians are depicted.
6) Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere
At the corner where Caffè del Moro is located, we turn right walking on Via della Pelliccia where are preserved old medieval houses of considerable importance. Then, we turn left on Vicolo del Piede, a tiny narrow street with plants scaling the walls of the homes and finally we arrive at the most beautiful spots of Trastevere: Santa Maria in Trastevere square (pic n. 1).
The square is the beating heart of Trastevere with its various markets, musical and cultural and above all its charming night atmosphere with bustling cafes and restaurants.
The most crucial spot of Trastevere is now in front of us: the Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere. Dating back to the 3rd century, it is one of the oldest churches of Rome (probably the first official place of Christian worship built in Rome) and boasts large 13th-century mosaics by Pietro Cavallini, works of art and also preserves illustrious burials like the cardinal Pietro Stefaneschi and the Pope Innocenzo II.
7) Via della Lungaretta and Church of Sant’Agata
After the interesting visit of the Church, we go on along Via della Lungaretta towards Viale Trastevere. This busy and lively street, that exactly follows the 2000 years old Roman route known as ‘’via Aurelia nova’’, has countless restaurants and bars very popular with both Romans and tourists.
Only a 100 meters before crossing Viale Trastevere, you will see on your left the 18th-century Church of Sant’Agata in Trastevere, home to the statue of the Virgin Carmen (“Vergine del Carmelo”), protector of the Trastevere people and popularly called “Madonna de Noantri”.
The faithful carry the 16th-century old statue in the procession “Festa de Noantri“, the most important religious and famous festival of Trastevere.
8) Church of San Francesco da Ripa and Basilica of Santa Cecilia
After crossing Viale Trastevere, we turn right to keep walking for 5 minutes on this busy street until we get to Via di San Francesco a Ripa where, at its end, is located the Church of San Francesco a Ripa.
This church was named after St. Francis of Assisi was hosted here on the occasion of his visit to the Pope in 1219: still today the church guards the saint’s cell and some of his relics.
Not to be missed, is also the emotive marble masterpiece “Blessed Ludovica Albertoni” (“Estasi di Beata Ludovica Albertoni”) sculpted by Gian Lorenzo Bernini between 1671-1674.
Heading west, in just 5 minutes walk, we reach the other highlight of Trastevere: the Basilica di Santa Cecilia. It is one of Rome’s more interesting churches, and it was built on top of the saint’s house.
Not to be missed is the crypt where the body of St. Cecilia is venerated and that was found in the catacombs of St. Callistus and brought back to the house of the martyr, on which Pope Paschal built the church by consecrating it solemnly in 821.
9) Vicolo dell’Atleta, Via Titta Scarpetta and Via Piscinula
Leaving the Church, we pass through Vicolo dell’Atleta that owes its name from a statue of an athlete found here in the 19th century.
This area was the site of the first Jewish Roman settlement, and around the year 1000, the Jews built Rome’s first synagogue that collapsed in the 18th century.
Going on with our visit, we are now in Via Titta Scarpetta: this narrow street is a kind of open museum with many archaeological artefacts, columns, capitals, friezes, portraits and religious medallions enclosed in the walls of the buildings (look at civics nr. 4, 5, 6, 25, 27, 28, 30).
After a quick visit, halfway of this narrow street, there is a short alley that links with Via Piscinula and its vines drip from the orange facades of the buildings.
Going on towards Piazza in Piscinula and Via della Lungaretta, our tour through the ancient houses, old churches and vibrant streets is over!
Need to Know
1) How to get there
First of all download the app “Muoversi a Roma” or “Moovit” where you can set your position and find the transports to your destination. Anyway,”Corso Vittorio Emanuele/SA della Valle“ is the bus stop for Campo de Fiori square. From here you can go only by a walk through the narrow streets and alleys.
2) When to go
Early in the morning is the best moment to avoid the tourists that crowd this fantastic neighbourhood. Don’t also miss its vibrant and bustling night with a stroll along via della Lungaretta and Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere. You can enjoy this charming place as long as you can, anyway, it takes around 3/4 hours to complete the tour.
3) Where to sleep and moving around in Rome