Tag Archives: Rome neighborhoods

Rome’s Testaccio Neighborhood

Market in Rome's Testaccio neighborhood

Market in Rome’s Testaccio neighborhood

Rome is a city built on seven hills, and while most of them are natural there’s one hill in the southern part of the historic city that’s man-made. This hill, the Monte Testaccio, gives its name to the historically gritty Testaccio neighborhood that’s more recently coming into its own as a tourist destination.

The name “Testaccio” comes from a Latin word that means broken pieces of terracotta, which helps give you an idea of what made the hill itself. The district sits at a bend in the Tiber River and was a major port for Rome. Goods were loaded on and off of ships here, and one of the primary vessels for transporting just about anything were terracotta amphorae. As these were unloaded and their contents emptied, the clay pots were often discarded in a growing pile behind the dock. This pile grew large enough to become the Testaccio hill. Because of this, it remains a treasure trove for archaeologists.

The Testaccio neighborhood continued to be a largely working-class area right up through the modern era. In recent years, this is where you’d go to find butcher shops. There are still working butcher shops in the area, but that has also drawn more foodies. Testaccio is now also known for its up-and-coming restaurants and vibrant nightlife. The neighborhood is still a bit less polished than some other parts of more touristy Rome, but since it’s popular with Roman residents you may find it has the feel of a more lived-in city than the tourist center does.

Although the main sights in Rome aren’t here, attractions in Testaccio include the pyramid built in the 1st century B.C.E., the city’s Protestant Cemetery, and the contemporary art museum MACRO Testaccio (which was built inside a 19th century slaughterhouse). In addition to the plethora of restaurants and bars, Testaccio is also the place to be if you like browsing food markets, either for picnic supplies or just because they’re fascinating. A walking tour of the Testaccio would certainly include both food attractions and historic ones.

-Jessica Spiegel

Rome’s Testaccio Neighborhood from Viator Rome

Discover Rome Like a Roman in Trastevere

Santa Maria Church in Trastevere

When in Rome it’s tempting and very easy to stay in the Centro Storico, the historic center. But as they say, when in Rome do as the Romans do, which means you need to cross the river and head to Trastevere. This is the heart of real contemporary Rome. Trastevere is the place the city’s inhabitants come in the evenings, to the bars and restaurants that give the narrow cobbled streets such vitality.

When I went there with my friends, we chose a small local restaurant at random, and ended up having a wonderful meal and a great chat with the owner who happened to have relatives living in our hometown. Thanks to this connection, our tiramisu and coffee were free. We left feeling like part of the extended family.

Naturally, the Trastevere area has deep historic roots, so you can spend the day exploring churches and Roman ruins before throwing yourself into the nightlife. The Piazza Santa Maria is the place to watch life go by. On the square is the church Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere, which dates from AD337 with renovations and expansions in 1138 and 1702. The church is said to be the oldest dedicated to the Virgin Mary in Rome. The mosaics inside are lovely. Other churches are Chiesa di San Francesco a Ripa where St Francis of Assisi reputedly stayed in the 13th century, and Basilica di Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, burial place of one of Rome’s favorite saints. Saint Cecilia lived in the 3rd century and you can tour the excavation of her house below the church. She is the patron saint of music for singing through her martyrdom.

A good way to explore Trastevere is to catch tram 8 there, explore these churches, walk over to Piazza Santa Maria, see the basilica, have drinks and dinner, then walk back across Ponte Sisto, a pretty pedestrian bridge leading back to the historic center.

-Philippa B.

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Discover Rome Like a Roman in Trastevere from Rome Things To Do