Name: Sara Spittler
Attractions: While I’ve done all of the tourist things – the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, etc. – I spent the majority of my time this summer in one particular neighborhood: Trastevere. I lived next to the Roma Trastevere train station, on the border of Monteverde and Trastevere. I worked in Trastevere. It is fair to say I know something about this neighborhood. Therefore, I decided to put together a guide for the part of Rome I feel the most comfortable with – Trastevere!
Trastevere is on the west side of the Tiber River (in fact, the name “Trastevere” comes from the Latin trans Tiberim meaning “beyond the Tiber,” thanks, Wikipedia) and south of Vatican City. Most of the activity in this neighborhood centers around the two main piazzas, Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere and Piazza di San Calisto. Shockingly enough, the first piazza houses Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere, a gorgeous church that is definitely a must-see feature of this neighborhood. Similar to Bologna, there aren’t a lot of activities in Trastevere. Wandering through the winding streets is an adventure unto itself and the local artisans, jewelry stands, boutiques, and fruit markets are definitely worth checking out.
Right outside of Trastevere (some may argue that it’s a part of Trastevere) is Isola Tiberina. While it may not seem like much, this tiny island on the river has a lot to offer. The bridge that connects it to either side, Ponte Sisto, is full of local artists and the occasional musician. I found some really amazing paintings on the bridge. The island itself has a gelato shop (with excellent Panna Cotto flavored gelato – thanks to my roommate for that tip!) and quiet places to sit and people watch. It’s a beautiful location with great views all around. The best location for a late afternoon break.
During the summer, the city sets up tents and makeshift restaurants on the riverwalk to create a fun, festive night scene. The concept is called Lungo Il Tevere (Along The Tiber) and spans from June until August. All sorts of exciting thingss pop up – from bars, shops, and concert stages. My roommates and I watched one of the World Cup games at a Mexican (it was far from Mexican) restaurantright next to the water! Their website is in Italian, so it probably won’t be much help, but basically it just lists all the vendors and upcoming events.
Food: As far as really good restaurants go, Trastevere has no shortage. For sit down meals I recommend Ivo a Trastevere (known for their pizza), Dar Poeta (the best Roman style pizza ever), Cafe Baylon (which has tons of vegetarian options), and Grazia e Graziella. There are so many more restaurants that I am sure are wonderful as well, but I didn’t eat in them. General words of advice when picking a restaurant: avoid places with tourist menus (they’re a ripoff), avoid places with waiters out front trying to lure you in (they’re annoying and pushy), keep an eye out for a Trip Advisor or Lonely Planet sticker, and stick to traditional menu items – Rome is the home of Cacio e Pepe, a delicious and simple pasta dish that you can’t go wrong with at any traditional restaurant.
If you don’t have time for a sit down meal or are looking for something “porti la via” (takeaway) Trastevere has plenty of options! La Renella is hands down my favorite – I went there for lunch at least once a week, usually more. La Renella is a bakery that specializes in amazing pizzas and breads. I recommend the margherita pizza. Scrumptious. I Suppli is another great snack stop. The little shop is famous for it’s suppli, which are fried rice balls with cheesy mozzarella centers containing vegetables, marinara, or meat. Other places for a snack include Eat and CdP (Compagna della Pane). For a fun drink, try Freni e Frizioni; their menu is extensive and they have great outdoor seatng for summer nights.
You know I won’t end this without discussing gelato. My favorites in Trastevere are Fonte Della Salute (they have amazing fruit flavors with tons of vegan choices!), Bar San Calisto (possibly the only 1 euro gelato in Rome PLUS free whipped cream), and Fior di Luna (just… beautiful). If you venture ourside of Trastevere, you won’t walk too far before you stumble upon Gelateria del Teatro, which was recently named one of Buzzfeed’s 27 Ice Cream Shops You Need to Visit Before You Die. Also on that list was Giolitti’s, a gelateria and bakery near the Pantheon. The green awnings signifty too many flavors to choose from and insane crowds, but this place is worth it! Just don’t forget to pay before you go get your cone! Finally, Frigidarium, also near the Pantheon, is probably my favorite gelateria in all of Rome. Incredible. They dip your entire gelato in either dark chocolate or white chocolate, which makes eating it a delicious challenge. Try their namesake flavor – “Frigidarium.”
I mentioned before that in Rome, I lived under a bakery. I’d like to elaborate on that: I lived under a heavenly bakery called Il Maritozzaro, famous for thier maritozzi pastry. While I never tried a “maritozzi,” mostly because it just looked like a hot dog bun filled with whipped cream, this place is supposed to be the home of the BEST maritozzi in the whole city. It’s definitely a hike from anything else, but I think a visit to Il Maritozzaro superceeds any other plans you may have had for 11pm. Why 11pm? Because this bakery has weird hours; they’re closed all day but open all night. Honestly, their bombe con nutella (a nutella filled donut, essentially) is worth it. I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH HOW AMAZING THIS BAKERY IS; PLEASE GO GET A PASTRY. The bakery is right by the Trastevere train station, so taking a bus (lines H, 780, 3, and 8 will take you from the center of Trastevere to the station) or the number 8 tram is super convenient. You have no excuse.
So, I hope this guide helps you with any Trastevere and/or food related questions you may have!
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