Trastevere, a leafy multicultural district in the southwest of Rome has been home to everyone from Julius Caesar and Jewish traders, to Canadian university students and Italian countesses. Winding streets paved with sampietrini (cobble stones) and walls draped in ivy mean the area is more like an ancient village than a suburb, but you’re just a ten minute stroll from the central Piazza Navona. SUITCASE guides you across the River Tiber.
83 Via Garibaldi
This adorable guest house was originally a fully working studio for Italian artist Luisa Logo and she has certainly left her graceful mark. Each room is individually arranged with her work, soft furnishings, and hand woven throws, and you’re just moments away from the river. Enjoy a cappuccino among lemon trees in the central courtyard.
Prices start at 180 euros based on two people sharing and there are winter discounts throughout February.
LOCANDA SAN PANCRAZIO
32ª Via di Porta San Pancrazzio
Up a winding cobbled path with a serene rooftop view, this is a peaceful city getaway that makes you see why both Romans and foreigners adore Trastevere. The terrace has an enclosed area perfect for chillier mornings and the rooms are bright and spacious. The Locanda is part of a group designed by the renowned architect Danilo Maglio, who transforms old townhouses into boutique hotels.
Prices start from 150 euros for a single room.
96 Via della Lungaretta
With a gazillion choices and a menu that changes on a weekly basis, this is a no frills ice cream parlour nestled among the main bars and restaurants. Try the Crema Catalana and Cioccolate. No seating but you can wander along the cobbles and sit by the church steps for some post-dinner star gazing.
FRENI E FRIZIONI
4-6 Via del Politeama
Buy a drink overlooking the beautiful Politeama Square and you can help yourself to a complementary seasonal buffet of salads, pastas, and crudités from 7 – 10p.m. There’s a colourful outside patio and fully stocked bar at what is considered to be one of Rome’s most sought after evening spots. Did we mention the free food?
FOR THE VIEW
GIANICOLO (JANICULUM HILL)
Climb via Garibaldi where the Buonanotte guest house is located through the gates onto passeggiata del Gianicolo to reach this panoramic view point at piazzale Garibaldi. Contrary to popular belief, this is not one of the original seven hills of Rome although the view is just as spectacular (as long as they remember to prune the trees!). Insider tip: Follow the road down the hill in the direction of St Peter’s and discover the Manfredi Lighthouse; a gift to the city from Italian expats living in Argentina.
24 Largo Cristina di Svezia
The botanical gardens on the northwest edge of Trastevere have over 3,500 species of plants and includes a “scent-and-touch” garden for the visually impaired. Orto Botanico is closed to the public in August but wonderfully serene in the chillier months.
SANTA MARIA AND THE FOUNTAIN
Piazza Santa Maria Trastevere
The Basilica of Santa Maria has the finest mosaic in Rome and the church itself is said to be one of the city’s most ancient, dating back to the year 222. Join the many locals, buskers and street vendors at Piazza Santa Maria at dusk when the church is fully lit or enjoy live music at Ombrerosse Caffe.
The area of Trastevere is one of the easiest to reach from the main Fiumicino airport. Take the local double-decker train from the airport station to Trastevere for 8 euros with a journey time of 25 minutes.
Direct flights from London across most leading airlines from £60 return in low season.
Words by Lucinda Elliott
Photos by Pablo Sosa