Rome is a city known for its iconic landmarks and bustling squares — however, if you dig deeper, you will find an unspoilt charm in the city’s bohemian neighbourhood, Trastevere.
Located a short distance from the tourist hotspot of Centro Storico, this quiet borough is dotted with funky bistros, craft-beer bars and wine shops.
Whether taking a break from the crowds during the day or eating and drinking your way through the district at night, Rome’s best-kept secret is worth a visit. Alternatively, booking a hotel in Trastevere can be a great way to retire in the evenings away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.
However, like any secret, it won’t be kept for long — already the crowds are starting to head for Trastevere during the lunch rush and popular restaurants there such as Da Enza, which was reviewed by Conde Nast Traveller, will have queues during the evenings.
Although you may be rushing to see the sights in Rome, it’s time to slow down in Trastevere. Start your day at 404 Name Not Found, which serves as a cafe by day and a cocktail bar by night. In the mornings, do as the Italians do and have a light breakfast of something sweet and coupled with a cappuccino — Italians only tend to have milk in their coffee in the morning, the afternoon is all about the espresso.
Then make your way to Piazza di Santa Maria, you can enjoy the mid-day sun at one of the numerous outdoor cafes while gazing upon the Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere — a beautiful church that dates back to at least the 8th-century. You can access the church daily from 7:30 am until 9 pm, where you can see stunning 12th-century mosaics.
From here you can head to the numerous restaurants in the surrounding streets for Italy’s favourite meal, lunch. A short walk to Piazza di San Cosimato and you will find Rione 13. This restaurant offers a range of local Roman food and the specials are particularly good.
Italian meals usually begin with an aperitif followed by antipasti, first, and second courses. Be sure to order a side with your second course as often it will only consist of meat or seafood dishes. Finish it up with a docle, or dessert.
It isn’t really Italian food without wine and Italy has some of the finest in the world. If you are unsure of which wine to order don’t be afraid to order the house — red or white — as most restaurants’ house wines have been paired with their specials.
Trastevere is not short on nightlife and is teeming with bars and restaurants where you can drink and chat the night away.
If you are looking for a local bar, The Hole is the place to be.
Their negronis are particularly good — although after two you won’t care how they taste. The bar stays open late every evening but Sunday, when it closes at midnight.
It should be noted that this is a local bar, it is a no-frills experience, however, it is a great way to experience the local scene — you will inevitably make some Italian friends.
For something a little more upscale, try Da Nina. This restaurant turns into a cocktail and wine bar in the early evening. It serves up traditional Italian snacks with exceptional service as well as an extensive wine list.
Whether spending a day exploring Trastevere’s narrow lanes or basing yourself here for your Roman getaway, you will not want to miss Rome’s best-kept secret.