Photo by Joadl / Wikipedia / Creative Commons
Rome is beautiful, but it's also busy. That won't come as any great surprise, of course; many of the world's most beautiful cities are also some of its busiest. However, it is still possible to enjoy Rome at the pace of the local, particularly in bustling Trastevere.
The Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and Rome's other attention-grabbing sights are only a short walk away from Trastevere, but its location on the other side of the River Tiber means the neighborhood feels – and is – much less crowded. You could easily spend a day and many a night here, too – and you absolutely should.
There's no better way to start your day in Trastevere – or Rome for that matter – than with some people watching and cappuccino sipping. Piazza Santa Maria is a good bet for both, with tourists and locals alike stopping by for a caffeine boost or scurrying past the square's fountain on their way to wherever else. Have a look around the Basilica di Santa Maria when you're finished: the religious mosaics are particularly impressive and a must-see. So too are the neighborhood boutiques and arts and crafts stores. They're scattered all over the neighborhood, so get wandering; you'll love exploring the cobblestoned alleyways and piazzas regardless.
Lunchtime should be fast approaching by now, and that's a good thing. You're in Rome, after all, and Trastevere is one of the city's best neighborhoods for rustic, Roman dining. Look no further than one of the neighborhood's charming, family-run trattorie for a crispy and deliciously light pizza or wholesome bowl of pasta. Walk it off with a stroll up Gianicolo, Rome's so-called 'eighth hill.' The original 'Seven Hills of Rome' all lie on the other side of the Tiber, but Gianicolo is the second-highest in Rome and at the top serves up brilliant views of the city. Head back down the hill to check out the equally brilliant frescos in the Basilica di Santa Cecilia or, if you had your fill of religious buildings and artwork in the morning, consider making your way over to Piazza Trilussa, another of the neighborhood's charming squares. In Italy, you're only supposed to drink cappuccinos in the morning, so for the afternoon enjoy some gelato instead. Spend your final hour or so nosing around Villa Farnesina, admiring both its frescos and wonderful garden.
Trastevere is exactly where you want to be when the sun goes down, too. The neighborhood bursts into life as the locals get back from work and head out for some dinner and a drink (or two, then three, and so on). Those same, old-fashioned trattorie are just as good in the evening as they are at lunch, if a little busier and more animated. Look out for Spaghetti Alla Carbonara, something that many of us have had back home, but not in its place of origin: Rome. Bucatini all'Amatriciana is another to watch out for on your menu, which like all Roman cuisine is also delicious. Feeling full? The evening's only just started. The bars and cafes in Trastevere are some of the liveliest and most varied in the city, from noisy microbreweries to elegant wine bars. Again these are scattered all over the neighborhood, but if you stroll along Vicolo de' Cinque and then duck into its connecting streets and alleyways, you'll stumble into many of them quickly enough.
Want the inside scoop? Read the TRVL Rome city and neighorhood guide.