Wandering Trastevere

by Aysha Griffin on March 25, 2017

Piazza Santa Maria Trastevere

Piazza Santa Maria Trastevere where strolling crowds are entertained by musicians and street performers.

Pedestrian alleyways lined with trattorias, osterias, ristorantes, enotecas (wine bars), gelaterias and shops of all kinds intersect at odd angles, punctuated by piazzas offering a few tables and chairs in front of a small bar, great for people watching. This is Trastevere, across the Tiber and south of Vatican City, considered one of the oldest and most-colorful neighborhoods in Rome.

Tiber at night

Crossing the Tiber River at night (St. Paul’s Cathedral in the distance) from Centro Historico to Trastevere, the oldest settlement on the west bank and accessed by 7 bridges over the Tiber.

In the evening, Romans, used to standing for coffee, (it’s cheaper than if you sit down), gather in front of establishments with drinks in hand. There seem to be no laws against drinking in public. The conversation and friendships among groups of men are markedly more affectionate and animated than I’ve witnessed elsewhere.

The mealtime and drink rituals here go something like this: morning coffee and a croissant, mid-morning coffee, lunch followed by coffee, mid-afternoon coffee, aperitivo (happy hour after work that can be a good deal, including a buffet of tapas and a drink for 8-10€), followed by dinner (3 to 4 courses), wine and a coffee.

Coffee means a shot of espresso, with cappuccino acceptable for the first cup of the day but considered déclassé after 10 a.m. as the belief is that coffee aids in digestion and milk obstructs digestion. As a tourist, your request for an afternoon latté will be tolerated, albeit with a rolling of the eyes or a snicker.

Trastevere restaurants

Some Trastevere restaurants display food to entice diners.

Trastevere sidewalk cafe

Fun servers at Trastevere sidewalk cafe.

Like all wonderful places that get “discovered” and popularized, many locals lament the gentrification, hip nightclubs, high-end restaurants and hoards of ambling tourists that have supplanted the daily life of this once more-earthy and working-class neighborhood. Of course, not knowing it in the past, I find its Medieval cobblestone streets and piazzas lined with sidewalk cafes and filled with friendly crowds and polished performers to be charming. And, for a step back in time you can always duck in to one of the many churches, the most famous being Santa Maria in Trastevere, the first official Christian place of worship, founded in the third century, and devoted to the worship of the Virgin Mary. There is much that could be said – and no doubt has been – about the roles and perception of women by the Roman Catholic Church, but I’ll leave that for another time and instead share some photos from my strolls in Trastevere.

Tabaccheria Trastevere

Tabaccheria, or tobacco shop, is the place to buy transportation tickets, candies, office supplies, postcards and, of course, tobacco… even selling American Spirit.

Local Deli Trastevere

Local Deli Trastevere. Cheeses, meats, pastas, olives and wine… what else do you need?

Cafe Fantini, Rome

Cafe Fantini is just across the river from Trastevere in the Campo de Fiori area and serves up an excellent and typical “happy hour” or aperitivo buffet plus a glass of wine (several choices) for 8€. Popular with the afterwork professional crowd, its inside and street side tables are full but if you can find a spare stool you’re welcome to join others at their tables. Great, friendly, yummy, inexpensive community experience.

street in Trastevere, chalk art

Our street in Trastevere with fabulous chalk art on a stairway leading to a small park.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

judith fein March 25, 2017 at 5:08 pm

it brings joy to me knowing how much joy is being brought to you. thank you for this wonderful post.

Aysha Griffin March 25, 2017 at 5:17 pm

Judie, It keeps getting more fun everyday… meeting both locals and visitors, enjoying being in Rome! I feel I’m warming up to write more stories, finding and communicating the magic. xoxo

Jan Croteau March 25, 2017 at 8:45 pm

I am loving the posts, the photos are just wonderful. Thanks for writing about your journey! Sending you love and light.

Scottyji March 26, 2017 at 12:21 am

Thank you, Aysha, for…you!
Which also translated means…grazie for all the time and love and thought you took to share your Rome experience with us so…generously!

Stormy March 26, 2017 at 3:18 am

Aysha, so glad to see you are in Rome! Thank you for posting the photos and guiding us around the city. Sending love from Colorado (where it is still snowing).

Naomi Baker March 26, 2017 at 6:42 pm

Wow Aysha! Fantastic….Awesome…epic!!!

Love Naomi

Maria March 31, 2017 at 2:29 pm

I loved this area when I was in Rome also! This brings back good memories but yes, I understand the locals’ displeasure at its gentrification.

Susan Cobb April 15, 2017 at 6:57 am

Dearest Aysha, I am at last treating myself to a binge of your blog. Thanks for taking the time to document your trip and post such amazing photos.

Wondering if while you are there you might check out a church that is probably not that much of a tourist attraction. The Basilica of Santa Pudenziana is the OLDEST Christian church in Rome. Rufus Pudenz was a relative of the Emperor Claudius. He married the daughter of the conquered British king Caractarus, when the British royal family was carried away to Rome (A.D. 58). She was already Christian, (remember your Glastonbury history) and converted Rufus Pudenz. She became such a favorite of Claudius that the Emperor adopted her. She changed her name from Gladys to Claudia, in his honor. (These are the people Paul mentions in II Timothy 4: 21.

The Royal Palace of the British in Rome welcomed both St. Paul and St. Peter. It became the first above ground Christian church in Europe, long before Constantine legitimized Christianity.

And then came Nero. Big time bloodletting of Christians. There is an inscription there that reads (translated to English) “In this sacred and most ancient of churches, known as that of Pastor (Hermas), dedicated by Sanctus Pius Papa (St. Paul), formerly the house of Sanctus Pudens, the Senator, and the home of the holy apostles, repose the remains of three thousand blessed martyrs which Pudentiana and Praxes, virgins of Christ, with their own hands interred.”

Pudentiana and Praxes were daughters of Rufus Pudens and Claudia. They were also martyred later on.

Anyway, I’m still exploring early Christianity, and would LOVE to get your reaction to this church. If you google it, you will come up with a map on how to get there. Sending you lots of love, and as Paul would say, “Grace be with you. Amen.”

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