Easter in Rome: Trastavere
Friday 19th April 2019
I’ve always admired Italy. I’ve always had a soft spot for the place. Whether it be being brought up watching The Godfather to collecting the home shirts of the national football team (remember that 2002 tight-fit Kappa masterpiece - I’ve still got it) I’ve always wanted to go. So when the opportunity came to spend my Easter weekend at the city renown for it’s ancient history, I really couldn’t resist.
Flying into Rome was an experience in itself. Visually, it’s simply stunning as you come in to land at Ciampino Airport, where we’d already pre-booked a bus to Termini Station in the centre of the city itself for €10. Travelling into the city took roughly 45 minutes, and what immediately struck me was the sheer amount of graffiti splashed across buildings. I’d never seen anything like it. Don’t let this put you off though, it’s still stands as the most beautiful city I’ve had the pleasure to visit.
Once we arrived at Termini Station, we were able to easily source the right tram route to our accommodation for the weekend; Residenzia Belli Inn. Recommended by a friend, it was reasonably priced compared with other hotels and located in the wonderful Trastavere neighbourhood. After receiving a warm welcome by the owners, we were escorted to our room which was part of a residential block. Although basic, the room provided everything we needed with fresh pastries delivered every morning and a lovely touch provided in the form of a chocolate gift with it being Easter weekend. There were a couple of hairy moments over the course of the weekend with the lift (a rather old, very small contraption that is tight even with two people!) but otherwise it was great.
We immediately set out to get a feel for Trastavere, latin for “beyond the Tiber”, which is a charismatic, bohemian neighbourhood of cobbled streets flanked by ancient houses. Our first destination was Piazza di Santa Maria, home to one of the oldest churches in Rome and a fountain in the centre of the square where locals and tourists alike gather to take a rest and socialise. The fountain itself is said to be the oldest fountain in the city, thought to date back to the 8th Century. After a quick stop for an Aperol Spritz, we continued on our way, exploring the busier bustling streets with throngs of tourists alongside the smaller, sedate back alleys, winding our way through Trastevere towards the river.
We found our way to Piazza di Trilussa, where there was a gathering of people sat on the steps of the monument listening to an excellent busker deliver a well-received set. I’d highly recommend visiting this area, as it is surrounded by some excellent bars and restaurants with a very good atmosphere. Applauding his work, we made our way along the River Tiber, a beautiful river which you can experience from above on the road or directly alongside via walking/cycling paths.
Here, we stumbled on Pons Aemilius, the oldest stone bridge in Rome, dating from the 2nd Century BC. Once spanning the Tiber, a single arch remains mid-river today, but it still retains a sense of awe and wonder as to the quality of the Romans architectural engineering in that period of history. It was at this point of the trip that it truly dawned on me how old Rome is, and how lucky we are that we’re able to take in and appreciate so much of it’s ancient infrastructure today.
Crossing the river and making our way up the Via di Santa Sabina road, we arrived at Giardino degli Aranci, or “Orange Tree Garden”. Boasting one of the best views of the Roman skyline, this jaw-dropping venue offers a terrace overlooking the River Tiber, with St Peters Dome in the distance. On what was a warm, clear today, it gifted one of my favourite moments as I took the time to survey the historic city.
Making our way back down the Aventine Hill and over the river, we rested back at the apartment before heading out for dinner. We made our way through Piazza di Santa Maria and the ever-busy Tonnarello restaurant (seriously, there were large queues every evening - it must be good); we found our way onto Vicolo de Cinque where we found Hosteria Del Moro. After arriving earlier that day and missing lunch, this was my first taste of the famous Italian cuisine and it did not disappoint. The wine and seafood pasta was excellent, with a very satisfied fat boy making his way down the street thereafter for a few drinks.
Earlier, I mentioned Piazza di Trilussa, and behind the monument lies a road called Via Benedetta. A lively, boisterous stretch of shops and bars, we stumbled across Mate Bar, a brilliant little pub with good rock music and a clientele that spilled out onto the streets mixing with another popular bar opposite called Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fa. Catering to a well-behaved, mixed crowd, the street had a good, friendly atmosphere that made for a pleasant evening, with a fair few beers sank!
Trundling home slightly tipsy with a full belly, optimism was high for the weekend ahead.