14 things to see and do in the Trastevere neighbourhood
Here is everything you need to know to enjoy all the charms of Trastevere.
In Trastevere you won't find the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain or St. Peter's Square; in Trastevere you won't see palaces or luxuries, but you will see narrow, colorful and charming streets that will make you feel like in a Fellini's movie.
1. Take a gastronomic tour in Trastevere
There are dozens of charming streets and a long list of restaurants to enjoy. That's why many tours of Rome include the Trastevere area in their itineraries. One of the best ways to tour the area is to take this gastronomic tour of Trastevere, Campo di Fiori and the Jewish quarter in which, in addition to learning about its streets and its history for three and a half hours, you can taste some of the most exquisite dishes.
About gastronomy in Trastevere
Gastronomy is an essential part of the tour, because it is an essential part of this particular neighborhood of Rome. There you will taste some of the best pastas and pizzas in the city. I will make you suffer a little more and list the Italian specialties that you will taste during your visit:
- Pasta: it is one of the star dishes in Italy and if you have ever lived with an Italian you will know that for them it is a ritual.
- Pizza Bianca: it is the pizza without tomato and, before you make a funny face, I will tell you that in Rome it is considered a delicacy. A personal recommendation: the thinner the dough, the better.
- Fresh Mozzarella cheese and cured salami: fresh products in Italy are of excellent quality and cheese is one of their strong points.
- Risotto balls: also called suppli, they are a typical Jewish dish.
- Fried artichokes: in the Jewish area they fry everything and the result leaves nothing to be desired. Here there is no "fritanga".
- Artisan ice cream (you haven't tasted real ice cream until you eat it in Rome).
What the tour consists of
All this tour and all these tastings you will enjoy in a small capacity tour where the maximum of 12 people guarantees an intimate experience. The experience of this gastronomic walk in Trastevere and surroundings lasts three and a half hours and, despite having a specialized local guide, it is more like a relaxed and interesting evening with friends than a sightseeing tour.
2. See the square of Santa Maria in Trastevere
It is the center of the social and cultural life of this neighborhood and a visit at dusk, when it is illuminated and becomes a gathering place, is a must. The square owes its name to the church that presides over it and in the center there is a fountain around whose steps dozens of young people gather every night and street shows are organized. In the streets that lead to this square is where they are located, with tables outside in the summer months, most of the restaurants in the neighborhood.
A fun way to tour this square is on a segway. There are guided tours of up to three hours that take you through the most important places of this picturesque neighborhood and tell you the stories hidden in its streets, on this popular electric two-wheeled vehicle. By the way, very comfortable and easy to use, dare to try it!
3. Visit the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere
Santa Cecilia is the patron saint of music, so it will not be unusual that, if you have hired the tour, your guide will take advantage of this stop to tell you a little about Italian music and especially all the concerts that can be seen in this neighborhood with bohemian dyes. He will also tell you the chilling story of the sacrifice of this saint who was martyred in this very place.
4. Tour the Villa Sciarra
This is where a romantically decorated park full of fountains and statues is located. It reaches its splendor when the cherry blossoms bloom in spring and from it you can see beautiful views of Rome reaching up to the Gianicolo hill.
5. Strolling through the Jewish Quarter
Also known as the "Jewish ghetto" without any negative connotation. In this area you will find points of interest such as the ruins of the portico d'Ottavia or the main synagogue of Rome, but the most important thing is the local specialties that you will taste in its small restaurants in the middle of a genuine atmosphere. I hope you like fried food because it is the specialty of the place.
6. Discover Campo dei Fiori by night
This area is characterized by its huge open-air market with fresh fruit and vegetables daily. Once upon a time, this enclave was full of medieval inns and Renaissance palaces such as Palazzo Farnese (where the tour usually begins) or Palazzo Spada. The inns are no longer preserved, but the palaces and mansions are. In the center of the square where the market is located, you will find a statue dedicated to the famous philosopher Giordano Bruno.
7. Take a private tour of Trastevere
If you fall in love with this neighborhood and daily life in Rome, you have the option of hiring a private tour of Trastevere for you and your travel companions. This option also lasts 3.5 hours (on foot), includes the Jewish quarter and Campo de Fiori and, of course, is also organized as a gastronomic tour.
The advantage? The intimate atmosphere that you will create with the guide and the possibility to adapt the tour and its timing according to what you are most interested in visiting in this neighborhood. You will also be able to get personalized restaurant recommendations that will come in handy during your visit.
8. Crossing the Ponte Sisto
Built in the 15th century to connect Trastevere with the center of Rome, strolling along it at sunset is a comforting experience in which you can also be surprised by musical performances.
Ana's Traveller Tip
If you want to take home a gastronomic souvenir, buy gourmet products in the stores near Piazza della Cinque Scole.
9. Having an aperitif in Piazza Trilusa
At the end of the Sisto Bridge you will find this square full of street artists and painters. A must-see atmosphere to get to know the essence of the Trastevere neighborhood.
In case you did not know, I tell you that the aperitif for Italians is one of the most ingrained customs among young and old. At mid-afternoon, it is very common to see groups of Italians drinking a traditional spritz or a beer while tasting a delicious snack consisting of focaccia, salamis, pizzas.... The best part? You pay for the drink and the "tapas" (or appetizer, as they call it) are on the bar. Can't wait to try it?
10. Visit the Church of San Pietro in Montorio
It is located in the lower part of the Gianicolo and its terrace is also an excellent viewpoint. Don't miss the view of the circular temple of this convent from the lower part of its courtyard.
11. Walk along Via Portuense
The Porta Portese is located at the end of this street and is one of the entrances to the neighborhood behind the wall that surrounds part of it. Through it you will access the less touristic Trastevere and if you go there on Sunday morning you will find one of the most popular street markets in Rome.
12. See shows
Urban culture is very present in the Trastevere area and therefore you will have the chance to attend more than one interesting show in this neighborhood. Best of all, late in the day in Piazza Santa Maria or in Piazza Trilusa you won't even have to pay an entrance fee because there are many (and very good) street performers in this neighborhood.
If you want to get a different souvenir from your trip to Rome, Trastevere is the place to go. Besides buying gourmet products in some of its stores, you can also enjoy handicrafts and small stores with peculiar objects that you won't find in any other area of Rome.
14. Spend your last night there
Although it is not the most accessible place for a sightseeing tour of Rome, spending your last day there can be a perfect farewell to the eternal city. Entering Trastevere is like entering a different Rome and enjoying it during your last hours of your trip away from the tourist crowds could be a perfect end to your experience.
Ana's Traveller Tip
Don't miss the sunset from the Gianicolo hill. Then finish the day having dinner in Trastevere and discovering its nightlife.
Organize your tour in Trastevere
How to get to Trastevere
You can reach it on foot by crossing the Sisto bridge or the Garibaldi bridge. If you are visiting the Vatican, the walk to Trastevere will only take 30 minutes. In any case, so that you don't get exhausted walking (you will have time to do it walking through the streets) you can get there either by bus H (leaving from Termini station and passing through, among other places, Piazza Venezia) or by streetcar 8 (leaving from Piazza Venezia).
Be careful! Many tours, although passing through Trastevere, do not leave directly from there, so be sure to check the address of the meeting point. If you have any questions you can write to your guide when you book the tour so that he/she can give you the relevant explanations, but don't worry because they are usually easy to find.
You can do the Trastevere tours at various times depending on the day of the week you choose. I recommend doing it in the mid-afternoon so that, when you finish, you can see the Trastevere neighborhood at night. Keep in mind that if you take the tour on a Sunday, you will find many stores closed in Rome.
Duration of the tours
The tour lasts three and a half hours and is a walking tour, but, as it includes several stops to taste local gastronomic products, it is not as tiring as a tour of the center of Rome of the same length. For me in particular, the time flew by because the atmosphere is totally relaxed and there is a very relaxed atmosphere with the guide and the tour companions.
Where to eat
If you are still hungry at the end of the tour, you are in the best place in Rome for lunch or dinner. Any of the bars near Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere will be worth a visit, and don't miss the ice cream parlors; they are also famous in this area and many of them have many years of history.
If you are going to eat on your own, as you may have already discovered, the neighborhood is known for its gastronomy. It is one of the best areas in Rome to enjoy Italian food. Tip: avoid the tourist menu and let yourself be recommended. As for the quantities, they are usually quite abundant so maybe one plate will be enough for you.
Another recommendation is not to shy away from dishes that seem "simple" or "typical": I can attest that a margherita pizza or a plate of pasta arrabiata in Rome will taste like nowhere else in the world.
The tour is available in several languages: Spanish, German, English and French.
Visiting Trastevere with children
The tour is perfectly suited for children. Just make sure they try everything so they don't waste the delicious food included in the tour price.
The neighborhood is one of the places that best lends itself to a quiet and thoughtful photography without the stress of the photo of rigor that can envelop the most saturated monuments of Rome. The deeper you go into its streets, the more possibilities you will discover. It is essential to climb the Gianicolo hill from where you will have a wonderful view of Rome especially at sunset.
If you are interested in the Trastevere neighborhood tour you will also be interested in
If you have fallen in love with the gastronomy of Trastevere, you can not miss the restaurants in another of Rome's neighborhoods that delights the most foodies: Testaccio. This neighborhood is located on the opposite bank of Trastevere and is also worth a visit, if only for its restaurants. Although less known, it is also described by some as one of the most authentic neighborhoods in Rome.
Visiting the Vatican
Finally, if you are going to visit Trastevere in the afternoon, I recommend doing so after seeing the Vatican Museums in the morning for two reasons. The first is the proximity of both places (about a thirty minute walk) which can be a perfect way to spend the day.
The second is because you already know that the Vatican is a must-see in Rome, but also one of the busiest places; after the bustle you will find in the museums or in St. Peter's Basilica, enjoying the serenity of Trastevere will be a balm that will charge you with energy for the rest of the days of your visit to Rome. If you are interested in this option and you want to know more about how to organize your visit to the Vatican, you can read this other article on The best guided tours of the Vatican ⛪.
Other guided tours of Rome
If on the other hand you prefer to do a broader tour of the city that does not focus only on Trastevere, do not worry because the offer of guided tours of Rome is endless. In fact, so much so that it can be overwhelming. I made this guide on Top 11 tours of Rome that can help you choose which is the best option.
The best excursions from Rome
And finally, if by now you have fallen in love with Rome like me, I recommend that you don't stop visiting the rest of Italy, as there are thousands of wonders to discover outside the Eternal City. I leave you with this article about The 9 best excursions from Rome so you can start dreaming about all the excursions you could do once you are there.