You’ve spent the day visiting magnificent sites– the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon – and you’re hungry! The most sought out places by day may not be your best starting points by night if you’re looking to try some authentic Italian dishes.
Walk away from those waiters calling after you in Piazza Navona, and for an evening or two, head over to Trastevere, one of Rome’s oldest neighborhoods. Characterized by its winding, narrow cobblestone streets, Trastevere is a charming quarter on the west bank of the Tiber, just south of the Vatican. Its location is in fact in its name; coming from the Latin trans Tiberim, Trastevere means “beyond the Tiber.” In the evenings, its ancient streets swell with life, the restaurants, pizzerias, and pubs filling to the brim with both Italians and tourists alike.
Trastevere is linked to the historic center by Ponte Sisto, an ancient footbridge that connects nighttime revelers from Campo de’ Fiori to Piazza Trilussa, a lively square that demarcates a popular entryway into the neighborhood.
From Piazza Trilussa, the first street on the left leads you to a small stairway, and up to one of the most hip and frequented bars, Freni e Frizioni. An old mechanic’s shop converted into a bar, Freni e Frizioni (translated literally as Brakes and Clutches) is a popular spot for a pre-dinner aperitivo, offering a full buffet to snack on along with your drink. By night, it’s a great place to have a cocktail, but beware that seating is limited and you might find yourself spilling into the square, drink in hand, to stand among the locals.
For dinner, Trastevere is home to one of Rome’s most famous pizzerias, Dar Poeta. Their wood-oven baked pizza is not the typical thin-crusted Roman pizza, nor the thick-crusted Neapolitan – it strikes the perfect balance between the two. This busy restaurant doesn’t take reservations, so put your name on the waiting list upon arrival. It’s worth the wait!
If you’re looking for traditional Roman cuisine, Trattoria Da Teo is an great choice. Its menu offers not only the most typical dishes – Bucatini all’Amatriciana, Spaghetti alla Carbonara, Cacio e Pepe — but also a wide variety of fish-based dishes, including a delicious Spaghetti alle Vongole (spaghetti with clams). And for a cuisine slightly more innovative, try Dar Sor Olimpio in Piazza Drago, which is located in the lesser-visited part of Trastevere on the opposite side Viale di Trastevere.
After dinner, as you weave around the crowds and in and out of the pubs and bars in Trastevere, don’t miss the main square, Piazza di Santa Maria. This square is considered the heart of Trastevere, serving often as a meeting place among friends, students, and colleagues. In the evening, it becomes a stage for street performers of all trades, from the unpretentious magician who uses his wig as a prop to the bold flame juggler. The square is flanked by old, monumental buildings and is notable for two sites – the octagonal fountain in the center, and one of the oldest churches in Rome, Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere. Piazza di Santa Maria is best seen at night when the church’s façade and bell tower are lit up by the same warm yellow light that is cast upon the square.
Rome for the Holidays offers three apartments in Trastevere: The Lehman, The Astor Loft, and The Callaway. While you’re searching for holiday apartments in Rome, don’t overlook Trastevere, a charming neighborhood just a short walk away from the most important sites in Rome.
(Photos courtesy of allaricercadelviaggioperduto.wordpress.com and www.naturamediterraneo.com)
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