Trastevere meaning “across the Tiber”, the river flowing through Rome, is a beautiful area of cobbled, winding Medieval streets located on the west bank, south from the Vatican City.
Google map here.
It’s been a multi-cultural area since ancient times and its inhabitants, the Trasteverini, have developed their own distinct local culture and are proudly different from the rest of the city.
In the medieval period it was the centre for the important Jewish community while in the 60s and 70s its unique character attracted artists and musicians. Famous locals include film director Sergio Leone who grew up here and was in the same class at school as Ennio Morricone.
On Sundays in Rome the only show in town seems to be the flea market in Trastevere which starts at 7 in the morning and goes on till 12.30. Start at Porta Portese and continue south.
Personally I can happily give the market a miss as the stalls are mainly full of tat and the occasional interesting piece of bricabrac you might come across will be ridiculously overpriced. The only food I saw was a peanut seller and a solitary cheese stall with the wares sweltering in plastic under the sun.
On the other hand there are some really good restaurants over here which seem to be much more reasonably priced than those in the Centro Storico just over the river. Most importantly they are all open for Sunday lunch which makes Trastevere the place to be when the rest of town is relatively quiet.
The focal point of the old Medieval area is Piazza Santa Maria di Trastevere and its beautiful church of the same name, one of the oldest in the city and home to a collection of beautiful mosaics.
The cafes in the square are good places for a pricey aperitivo. I’m sure most of the restaurants surrounding it are very good too but I have my favourite that I always go to. It’s so good that I won a Guardian readers tips competition with it in 2014!
Da Lucia (Intermedaiate A), 2/b Vicolo del Mattonato, Tel. 06 580 3601, GEM ALERT!
Hidden away up a backstreet, not so far from the madding crowd, this is a favourite which I come back to every time I’m here. If you haven’t reserved you need to get here pretty soon after 12.30 when they open or you won’t get one of the coveted outdoor tables.
To start I had the Antipasta della Casa, a dish of grilled peppers, aubergine, courgettes and olives(A).
To follow, the Spaghetti alla Gricia, with pancetta and grated pecorino (A+) is truly excellent.
I like to challenge myself from time to time and thought this would be a good place to try Trippa alla Romana, which was tasty, but I couldn’t eat more than half of it (B), unlike the local chap next to me who polished his off in about five minutes.
The Panna Cotta with stewed forest berries was sublime (A+).
All this went down with a great bottle of fruity Frascati from Casalle Marchese (A) which totally won me over to this lovely Lazio wine.
A great meal all round, and very reasonable at €40. If you’re in Trastevere, you must come here.
At 37a Via dei Moro you will find Valzani, an amazing old pasticceria selling giant Easter eggs, chocolate cars and all forms of Torrone and other confectionery, beautifully presented in glass cases and attractive wrappings. I purchased a slab of their darkest most delicious chocolate that survived the journey home, but not much longer.
Off to Caserta for a change of scene next…