Walks in Rome – Route 5

Trastevere

This itinerary includes most of Trastevere. A former working-class neighbourhood that is undoubtley the most picturesque testimony of Rome’s ancient traditions. Our tour begins with the Porticod’Ottavia because, although the river separates the area from Trastevere, it features the same modest dwellings and narrow streets. Missing are the conspicuous monuments and extravagant palaces so common in the rest of Rome; but every building is a living witness to the city’s history. Almost any baroque basilica here has been built atop of a Medieval church, which in turn was most likely erected on the spot of an ancient Roman home. You will find important churches, such as S.Maria in Trastevere, S.Crisogono or S. Cecilia in the area. Bust most of Trastevere’s religious meeting places are tiny chapels originally built to house venerated holy images. After a period of serious decline during the dark ages the neighbourhood underwent a housing boom fron the eleventh to thirteenth centuries. But most of this was haphazard building until the seventeenth century, when Via della Lungara was laid down as pilgrimage route to St. Peter’s.
This is a trip in the very heart of popular Rome which has its beginning in the centre of the “Jewish Ghetto”, in Via del Portico d’Ottavia, where you can see the Roman ruins of a massive construction commissioned by the emperor Augustus. Right next to the Portico, theChurch of S.Angelo in Pescheria, reminds usof thefish market which existed in that street for centuries. Afetr visting the main Synagogue of Rome on the river bank, crossing the Tiber you’ll get the other side and you are in Trastevere from the Latin “trans Tiberim”. We experience a first impact with this quarter while we are in the wonderful medieval structure of Piazza in Piscinula which offers us the view of former Palazzo Mattei, which has now been demoted to a modest but nevertheless fascinating house. In the square you can see the church of S. Benedetto as well; the legend says that it was built in 543 on the death of the saint. We are now beginning to go into the quarter taking Via della Luce occupied by the Church of S.Maria della Luce. A little far on we turn left into Via dei Genovesi, where we find the ancient Ospizio dei Genovesi, a welfare structure for the sailors from the city of Genova who had landed in the nearby Ripa Grande port. There is a magnificient fifteenth century cloister inside the hospice. On continuing we run into the Church of S. Maria in Cappella which is directly facing the ancient Ponte Sublicio in the Tiber river. We can’t see the remains of this bridege because it was destroyed in the 1800s to widen the river bed and to lower the risk of flooding. Let’s go back a minute to look at the Church of S. Cecilia, and now let’s head for the monumental S. Michele complex On the way we can visit the Church of S.Maria dell’Orto on the right of the street with the same name. The Istituto S.Michele dominates what had been the port that was demolited to built the great walls on the river banks. Next to the river there is Porta Portese Flea market, the most popular market in Rome, open every Sunday. Turning right into Via Induno we’ll see the wery dreary Palazzo degli esami. Turning right again we find ourselves in front of the Church of  S.Francesco a Ripa. From here we’ll go straight towards the other side of the quarter, which extends past Viale Trastevere. We’ll pass by the old Manifattura Tabacchi and emerge into the avenue. On going forward we find the important Church of S. Crisogono and its original bell tower on our right. Immediately turning left, we end up in front of S.Gallicano Hospital. By taking Via della Lungaretta, we enter the core of Trastevere, which is famous for its maze of backstreets. We’ll find Piazza S.Maria in Trastevere and its renowned church at the end of this street. Turning up Vicolo del Piede, then Via della Pelliccia we find S.Egidio that has been a convent for nuns and now houses the Museum of Folklore. Continuing in this web of narrow streets, we choose Via della Scala and then reach Porta Settimiana.
Via della Lungara, the refined twin street of Via Giulia starts from here. The splendid Palazzo Corsini, and the Orto Botanico, the sixteenth century building called “La Farnesina” can be found on this street. Our trip is now finished. Go back along the river and you’ll come to Ponte Sisto, the other ancient entrance to Trastevere.