In Trastevere you won't find the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain or St. Peter's Square; in Trastevere you won't see palaces or luxuries, but you will find narrow, colourful and charming streets that will make you feel like you're in a Fellini film.
1. Take a gastronomic tour in Trastevere
There are dozens of charming streets and a long list of restaurants to enjoy. That's why many tours of Rome include the Trastevere area in their itineraries. One of the best ways to explore the area is by taking this gastronomic tour of Trastevere, Campo di Fiori and the Jewish quarter where, in addition to getting to know its streets and its history for three and a half hours, you can taste some of the most exquisite dishes.
About gastronomy in Trastevere
Gastronomy is an essential part of the tour, because it is an essential part of this particular neighbourhood of Rome. There you will taste some of the best pastas and pizzas in the city. I will make you suffer a little bit more and list the Italian specialities you will taste during your visit:
- Pasta: it is one of Italy's star dishes and if you have ever lived with an Italian you will know that it is a ritual for them.
- Pizza Bianca: this is pizza without tomato and, before you make a funny face, it is considered a delicacy in Rome. A personal recommendation: the thinner the dough, the better.
- Fresh mozzarella cheese and cured salami: fresh produce in Italy is of excellent quality and cheese is one of its strong points.
- Risotto balls: Also called suppli, these are a typical Jewish dish.
- Deep-fried artichokes: In the Jewish area they fry everything and the result leaves nothing to be desired. There is no "fritanga" here.
- Artisan ice cream (you haven't tasted real ice cream until you eat it in Rome).
What the tour consists of
All this tour and all these tastings will be enjoyed in a small capacity tour where a maximum of 12 people guarantees an intimate experience. The experience of this gastronomic walk in and around Trastevere lasts three and a half hours and, despite having a dedicated local guide, is more like a relaxed and interesting afternoon with friends than a sightseeing tour.
2. See Santa Maria Square in Trastevere
It is the centre of the social and cultural life of this neighbourhood and the best way to get to know all its history is with a tour of Trastevere. It is also a must-see at dusk, when it is illuminated and becomes a meeting place. The square owes its name to the church that presides over it and in the centre there is a fountain around whose steps dozens of young people gather every night and street shows are organised. Most of the restaurants in the neighbourhood are located in the streets that lead to the square, with tables outside in the summer months.
A fun way to explore the square is on a Segway. There are Segway tours of the centre of Rome lasting up to two hours that take you around the most important places in the city and tell you the stories hidden in its streets, on this popular two-wheeled electric vehicle. By the way, it's very comfortable and easy to use, so try it out!
3. Visit the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere
Saint Cecilia is the patron saint of music, so if you've booked a tour of Trastevere, your guide will take advantage of this stop to tell you a bit about Italian music and especially about all the concerts you can see in this bohemian neighbourhood. He or she will also tell you the chilling story of the sacrifice of this saint who was martyred in this very spot.
4. Tour the Villa Sciarra
This is the site of a romantically decorated park full of fountains and statues. It is at its best when the cherry blossoms are in bloom in spring and from here you can see beautiful views of Rome as far as the Gianicolo hill.
5. Stroll through the Jewish Quarter
Also known as the "Jewish ghetto" without the name having any negative connotations, I recommend that you book a tour of Trastevere and the Jewish quarter so you can learn all about the history of the place, which is no small thing. In this area you will find points of interest such as the ruins of the portico d'Ottavia or the main synagogue of Rome, but the most relevant thing is the local specialities that you will taste in its small restaurants in the middle of a genuine atmosphere. I hope you like fried food because it is the speciality of the place.
6. Discovering Campo dei Fiori by night
This area is characterised by its huge open-air market with daily fresh fruit and vegetables. This enclave was once filled with medieval inns and Renaissance palaces such as the Palazzo Farnese (where the tour of Trastevere and the Jewish quarter usually begins) or the Palazzo Spada. The inns are no longer preserved, but the palaces and mansions are. In the centre of the square where the market is located, you will find a statue dedicated to the famous philosopher Giordano Bruno.
7. Take a private tour of Trastevere
If you fall in love with this neighbourhood and the daily life in Rome, you have the option to book a private tour of Trastevere for you and your travel companions. This option also lasts 3.5 hours (on foot), includes the Jewish quarter and Campo de Fiori and, of course, is also organised as a gastronomic tour.
The advantage? The intimate atmosphere you will create with your guide and the possibility of adapting the tour and its times depending on what you are most interested in visiting in this neighbourhood. You'll also be able to get personalised restaurant recommendations that will come in handy during your visit.
8. Cross the Ponte Sisto
Built in the 15th century to link Trastevere with the centre of Rome, strolling across it at sunset is a refreshing experience where you can also be surprised by musical performances.
Ana's Traveller Tip
If you want to take home a gastronomic souvenir, buy gourmet products in the shops near Piazza della Cinque Scole.
9. Have an aperitif in Piazza Trilusa
At the end of the Sisto Bridge you'll find this square full of street artists and painters. An essential place to get to know the essence of the Trastevere neighbourhood.
In case you didn't know, an aperitif is one of the most deeply-rooted customs for Italians, both young and old. In the middle of the afternoon, it is very common to see groups of Italians having a traditional spritz or a beer while they enjoy a delicious snack made up of focaccia, salamis, pizzetas... The best part? You pay for the drink and the "tapas" (or aperitif, as they call it) are on the bar. Can't wait to try it?
10. Visit the Church of San Pietro in Montorio
Located at the bottom of the Gianicolo, its terrace is also an excellent viewpoint. Don't miss the view of the circular temple of this convent from the lower part of its courtyard.
11. Walk along the Via Portuense
Porta Portese is located at the end of this street and is one of the entrances to the neighbourhood behind the wall that surrounds part of it. It leads to the less touristy Trastevere and if you go on Sunday morning you will find one of the most popular flea markets in Rome.
12. See shows
Urban culture is very present in the Trastevere area and, therefore, you will have the chance to attend more than one interesting show in this neighbourhood. Best of all, late in the day in Piazza Santa Maria or Piazza Trilusa you won't even have to pay an entrance fee because there are so many (and very good) street performers in this neighbourhood.
If you want to get a different souvenir from your trip to Rome, Trastevere is the place to go. In addition to buying gourmet products in some of its shops, you can also enjoy handicrafts and small shops with peculiar objects that you won't find in any other area of Rome.
14. Spend your last night there
Although it's not the most accessible place for a sightseeing tour of Rome, spending your last day there can be a perfect farewell to the eternal city. Entering Trastevere is like entering a different Rome and enjoying it during your last hours away from the tourist crowds could be a perfect end to your experience.
Ana's Traveller Tip
Don't miss the sunset from the Gianicolo hill. Then finish the day by dining in Trastevere and discovering its nightlife.
Organise your tour of Trastevere
How to get to Trastevere
You can walk across the Sisto Bridge or the Garibaldi Bridge. If you are visiting the Vatican, the walk to Trastevere will only take 30 minutes. In any case, so that you don't get exhausted walking (you'll have time to walk through the streets), you can get there either by bus H (leaving from Termini Station and passing through Piazza Venezia, among other places) or by tram 8 (leaving from Piazza Venezia).
Be careful! Many tours, although they pass through Trastevere, do not leave from there directly, so be sure to check the address of the meeting point. If you have any questions you can write to your guide when you book your tour so that he/she can explain it to you, but don't worry because they are usually easy to find.
You can do the Trastevere tours at various times depending on the day of the week you choose. I recommend doing it in the mid-afternoon so that you can see the Trastevere neighbourhood at night when you finish. Please note that if you do the tour on a Sunday, you will find many shops closed in Rome.
Duration of the tours
The tour lasts three and a half hours and is a walking tour, but, as it includes several stops to sample the local cuisine, it is not as tiring as a tour of central Rome of the same length. For me in particular, the time flew by because the atmosphere is totally relaxed and there is a very relaxed atmosphere with the guide and the tour companions.
Where to eat
If you're still hungry at the end of the tour, you're in the best place in Rome for lunch or dinner. Any of the bars near Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere will be worth a visit. Ah, don't miss the ice cream parlours; they are also famous in this area and many of them have many years of history.
If you are going to eat on your own, as you have already discovered, the neighbourhood is known for its gastronomy. It is one of the best areas in Rome for Italian food. Tip: avoid the tourist menu and let yourself be recommended. As for the quantities, they tend to be quite plentiful, so one plate may be enough.
Another recommendation is not to shy away from dishes that seem "simple" or "typical": I can vouch for the fact that a margherita pizza or a plate of pasta arrabiata in Rome will taste like nowhere else in the world.
The tour is available in several languages: English, German, French, Spanish and German.
Visiting Trastevere with children
The tour is perfectly suited for children. Just make sure they try everything so they don't waste the delicious food included in the tour price.
Enjoy the photography
The neighbourhood is one of the places that lends itself best to calm and thoughtful photography without the stress of the photo op that can envelop Rome's more saturated monuments. The deeper you go into its streets, the more possibilities you will discover. A must-see is the Gianicolo hill from where you'll have wonderful views of Rome, especially at sunset.
If you are interested in the Trastevere neighbourhood tour, you will also be interested in
If you've fallen in love with the gastronomy of Trastevere, you can't miss the restaurants in another of Rome's neighbourhoods that delights foodies: Testaccio. This neighbourhood is located on the opposite side of the river from Trastevere and is also worth a visit, if only for its restaurants. Although lesser known, it is also described by some as one of Rome's most authentic neighbourhoods.
Visiting the Vatican
Finally, if you are going to visit Trastevere in the afternoon, I recommend doing so after seeing the Vatican Museums in the morning for two reasons. The first is the proximity of both places (about a thirty minute walk) which can be a perfect way to spend the day.
The second is because you already know that the Vatican is a must-see in Rome, but also one of the busiest places; after the hustle and bustle you will find in the museums or in St. Peter's Basilica, enjoying the serenity of Trastevere will be a balm that will charge you with energy for the rest of the days of your visit to Rome. If you are interested in this option and want to know more about how to organise your visit to the Vatican, you can read this other article about the best guided tours of the Vatican.
Other guided tours of Rome
If, on the other hand, you prefer to do a broader tour of the city that doesn't just focus on Trastevere, don't worry because the offer of guided tours of Rome is endless. In fact, so much so that it can be overwhelming. I put together this guide to the 11 best tours in Rome that can help you choose which is the best option.
The best tours from Rome
And finally, if by now you've fallen in love with Rome like me, I recommend you to visit the rest of Italy, as there are thousands of wonders to discover outside the Eternal City. I leave you with this article about the 9 best tours from Rome so you can start dreaming about all the excursions you could do once you're there.