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How To Make An Italian Neighborhood Your Own

by Penny Sadler

Update: This article was nominated in the category, Best Single Post Living In Italy.

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I first discovered Trastevere in 2009. I rented a room in an old apartment building without air- conditioning. It was here that I learned to do as the Romans do – luxuriate in long lunches, take a nap in the heat of the day, and generally enjoy life more. In Trastevere, I learned about “la dolce far niente,” the sweetness of doing nothing.

Trastevere, Rome, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Vicolo del Cedro

I’ve returned to Trastevere many times since that first stay. I fell in love with the narrow, winding cobblestone streets, the warm terra cotta colors of the buildings, the friendly people, and the fact that it’s a real neighborhood where I can find everything I need within a few blocks.

 

How to make an Italian Neighborhood Your own PennySadler 2013-2014

How To Make An Italian Neighborhoods Your own. @PennySadler 2013

Market at Piazza San Cosimato

@PennySadler 2013 Piazza San Cosimato, Trastevere

Piazza San Cosimato

I always return to the same internet cafe (I don’t travel with a computer in Europe), Canestro, the organic and gluten-free market, and shop at the open air produce market in Piazza San Cosimato. In this way I get a tiny taste of what life would be like if lived in this neighborhood in Rome. Of course if I was living there, I doubt I’d spend my days walking around with my camera and following those medieval winding streets wherever I fancy, but, non si sa mai, you never know.

I got to know the guy who made my cappuccino in the morning and my spritz in the afternoon, and other people in the neighborhood who recognize me to this day.

cafe in Trastevere @PennySadler 2013

Taking an espresso Italian style

@PennySadler 2013 Ponte Sisto Bridge

View of Piazza Trilusa

Trastevere means trans Tiber or across the river. It has always been home to craftsmen, artists, and immigrants. In fact, many of the people I meet who have lived there for decades are expats, and tell me they can’t imagine living anywhere else in Rome.

Today there are, of course, lots of tourists. Trastevere is well known for great restaurants, pubs, and nightlife, and believe me, at night it is packed. The older part of the area around Via della Scala and Piazza Trilusa, can be quite mad with people.

But during the day the streets are relatively quiet, and locals go about their business and their work. It’s not uncommon to find an open doorway to a craftsman shop and they don’t seem to mind if you take a peek inside.

 How To Make an Italian Neighborhood Your own, @PennySadler 2013

Instrument makers shop Vicolo del Cedro

Here are some ideas for things to see and do in Trastevere, whether you stay a day, a week, or longer.

There are several important churches in Trastevere: Santa Cecilia, Santa Maria and San Francesco a Ripa.

@PennySadler 2013

Basilica Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome

Piazza and Basilica Santa Maria in Trastevere is the first church in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary and probably the oldest church in Rome. You will recognize it by the distinctive Romaneque bell tower – and beautiful mosaics on the front glimmering in the sun.  The piazza is a central meeting point in Trastevere, and a great people watching spot. Watch out for drunks and beggars in the evening. Generally harmless, but can be annoying.

Santa Cecila is an 18th century remodel of a medieval church. It is named for St. Cecilia (the patron saint of music), who was martyred here in the 3rd century. Inside you will find the tomb of Santa Cecilia sculpted by Stefano Maderno, and some fragments of Pietro Cavallini’s fresco, The Last Judgement. I haven’t seen this one yet, but it’s on my list.

San Francesco a Ripa: this rather nondescript church houses Bernini’s famous sculpture Beata Ludovia Albertoni. Just go see it.

San Francesco a Ripa, Trastevere @PennySadler 2013

Piazza San Francesco a Ripa

The Museo di Roma in Trastevere. In May, this museum hosts an exhibition of World Press photographs. Other photographs and art in the permanent collection focus on depicting life in Rome from the 1950’s to the present. If you love photography, this is the place for you. I went to an exhibit last year that permanently affected the way I take photographs today. http://en.museodiromaintrastevere.it/il_museo/la_collezione

The Gianicolo or Janiculum Hill is above Trastevere – a bit of a climb, but well worth the effort. Here you have the best views of the city and in my opinion one of the most romantic spots in Rome. Take a date if you can.

Farmacia Santa Maria della Scala – a true 17th century pharmacy now a museum and operated by monks. It’s never been open when I’m there, but I keep trying.

Eat gelato! My favorite place in Trastevere is Bar Checco. Located at Via Benedetta 7.

Relax! at a typical Roman cafe while enjoying an espresso or a drink and watch the world go by.
I’ve got several good choices and there are many more.

@PennySadler 2013

Cafe Maurizio in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere great views of the Piazza and the mosaics on the front of the Basilica.

Cafe San Calisto: Piazza San Calisto, basically adjacent to Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere.
Traditional Roman style bar and cafe.

Ombre Rose: Piazza Sant Egidio across from the Museo di Roma. A pretty spot with trees and a funky artsy vibe. Always lots of people sitting outside here.

&#64'PennySadler 2013

Bubble maker, Santa Maria di

@PennySadler 2013 Da Lucia Rome, Italy

Da Lucia

Eat! There are loads of good restaurants in Trastevere and I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a bad meal here. A few ideas are:

Ivo’s for pizza. The place is always packed. Call ahead. Via San Francesco a Ripa.

Da Lucia. A traditional Roman restaurant also always packed. After my fifth trip I finally got in there one night without a reservation. Cacio e pepe is a must. I also had a delicious cheese omelet. Weird I know, but it tasted great with the pasta and wine. Vicolo del Mattonato.

Isola Sicilia. I’ve been here numerous times and always like it. Nice size portions of food, very fresh. If you like seafood this place is very reliable. A wee bit pricey but delicious.
Via Garibaldi.

How To Make an Italian Neighborhood Your Own

Isole di Sicilia

Walk! Trastevere is a great place for walking, as auto traffic is restricted in most areas. There are charming little local artisinal shops, and one of kind things you’ll find no where else. I love walking in Trastevere (even though a few times I thought my feet were permanently broken by the cobblestones). It has a feeling of a small village where people know their neighbors and everyone says hello. It feels like home to me.

@PennySadler 2013 Trastevere

“La dolce far niente”

Love Rome? Not sure? Read Roman Holiday.

All materials ©Penny Sadler 2012 – 2013

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18 comments

Ryan May 19, 2014 at 9:50 am

Love it! Being in Rome right now this is perfect =) I am headed to Trastevere tonight for a food tour but I’ll be exploring on my own the next few days and I’ll try this =)

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Penny Sadler May 19, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Love to hear more about your adventures. 🙂

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Lora @savoringitaly February 11, 2014 at 10:20 pm

I miss bella ROMA! We finally took the kids there a couple summers back. The few days was not enough. Such a beautiful post, Penny. Congrats on your nomination!!

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Penny Sadler February 11, 2014 at 10:46 pm

Thank you! Appreciate the comment and taking the time read it.

Reply
Italy Magazine Blogger Awards 2013 - Adventures of a Carry-On January 28, 2014 at 8:40 pm

[…] ago the competition was shortlisted and the finalists in each category were picked. My article, How To Make An Italian Neighborhood Your Own, made it as a finalist for Best Single Living in Italy post along with only three other articles! […]

Reply
Cacinda Maloney January 26, 2014 at 7:44 pm

I guess this seals the deal: I must return to Rome just to check out this neighborhood!!

Reply
Penny Sadler January 27, 2014 at 9:03 am

I miss it!

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Postcard: Vicolo del Piede, Trastevere - Adventures of a Carry-On September 7, 2013 at 11:29 am

[…] and some of my most cherished memories live there. You can read more about Trastevere in my story How To Make An Italian Neighborhood Your Own. I do have one tip for you that you may not find elsewhere, watch where you’re walking, […]

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Postcard: Via della Pace, Trastevere - Adventures of a Carry-On September 6, 2013 at 11:49 am

[…] and some of my most cherished memories live there. You can read more about Trastevere in my story How To Make An Italian Neighborhood Your Own.  I do have one tip for you that you may not find elsewhere, watch where you’re walking […]

Reply
What Is Your Favorite Place In The World- 19 International Travel Bloggers Answer-RTW Photo Carnival | The Nomadic Family Travel Blog May 18, 2013 at 4:00 am

[…] Penny at Adventures of a Carry On- How To Make An Italian Neighborhood Your Own […]

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masimore April 24, 2013 at 7:15 am

I lived in Trastevere for three months and this brought me right back. I wouldn’t want to be any where else in Rome.

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Penny April 24, 2013 at 8:50 am

I’m happy to hear that. Thank you for your comments!

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una donna con la valigia April 24, 2013 at 6:12 am

Hi Penny I like your “italian posts”, I was in Rome several times but never discovered Trastevere like you did 🙂

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Penny April 24, 2013 at 8:51 am

Well there’s always the next time. 🙂
What area did you like the most?

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una donna con la valigia April 25, 2013 at 12:54 pm

I like the whole atmosphere in Rome, especially the perspective over San Pietro and Viale della Conciliazione from Castel sant’Angelo … and many others.. 🙂

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Penny April 25, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Next time I’m in Rome I’m going to the top. I’ve never done that.

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andmorefood April 24, 2013 at 5:28 am

this reminds me of gelato on hot roman holidays. great photos!

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Penny April 24, 2013 at 5:32 am

Thank you!

Reply

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