Trastevere is Rome’s charming and a bit messy backyard
Trastevere is situated on the other side of the river Tiber in Rome. The name Trastevere actually means; Trans Tiberim is the Latin term meaning “on the other side of the river.” The district is a bit more tired and simple than other parts of Rome, but has a lot to offer. Here are small cafes and bars on every corner and in the evenings, street vendors and musicians come forward. It takes only 10- 15 minutes to walk from Pantheon or the Argentina place and you can choose whether to cross the Tiber over the Ponte Garibaldi or Ponte Cestio where you at the same time can visit the small island located here in the middle of the river Tiber.
When I was in Rome the first time during winter 1968/69, I ended up at a New Year’s party in Trastevere. It was at that time a tradition in Trastevere to throw out everything old exactly at 12.00 New Year’s Eve. It concerned everything from sofas to rugs and old clothes and household utensils and it was even thrown out from windows on 3rd or 4th floor. So at midnight, it was downright dangerous to walk the streets of Trastevere. It is not the case today, but you may see more beggars and drug addicts there than elsewhere in Rome. It also appears that public sanitation works worse in this part of town, but do not let that scare you.
In Trastevere you get a sense of meeting the real Rome. Ordinary people live here, but artists have also over the years found Trastevere charming and settled down in this part of town and made their mark on Trastevere. If you want to get away from the queues of tourists, go across the river and stroll the streets of Trastevere.
In the middle of Trastevere is the beautiful church of Santa Maria who is one of Rome’s oldest churches and built as a basilica (royal portico). In the door sits a young woman wrapped in a large shawl. She is begging in a discreet way, but will not be photographed. Inside the church, we go along with a few other tourists while some old ladies are sitting in silent prayer on the back pews. Restaurants around this square are more expensive than elsewhere in Trastevere for here harbors happy tourists. Go deeper into the city and into the back streets, where you will find the most charming places.
We ate lunch one day at Bruno alla Lungaretta where Giuseppe Montorro took good care of us. The place has very mixed reviews on TripAdvisor, but we were very pleased, both with the food service and price. After a few hours walking in Trastevere’s alleys, we took a break with an ice, Italy is famous for it`s ice cream, on the steps of Santa Maria della Scala.
Night modify parts of Trastevere character. Along the river there is a bustling nightlife and the young Romans go here to party. Restaurants open around 20.00 and the most popular ones fill up quickly. We experienced a queue when we ate at Hostaria La Botticella. The place is very popular and has great reviews on TripAdvisor. Portions are huge and we did not think it was very much to brag about. But we had the pleasant company of a young couple from Malmö, Sweden. There is an advantage with tables close together; it’s easy to get into a conversation with other guests.
Even late at night there is abundant life in Trastevere and in the streets around Santa Maria Church street vendors are present late into the night. I let myself be tempted by a wall with butterflies and bought several that will adorn my own backyard as a reminder of Rome’s backyard Trastevere.