Once you’ve visited the Forum, Colosseum, Pantheon, Vatican, and the many famous sites in Rome, leave yourself time to explore the Quieter Side of Rome, the Jewish Ghetto and Trastevere.
After touring the Vatican is a great time to do this. Find your way to the Tiber, Rome’s famous river, and walk along its banks toward Trastevere.
Trastevere means “across the Tiber”, and as its name suggests, it’s across the river from the many famous sites and large crowds of people.
This area is full of history, but if you’re fresh out of your tour have a nice relaxing lunch before any more sightseeing.
Jasmine drapes pergolas and walls as it scents outdoor trattorias with its sweet perfume. Here you will find the quintessential red and white table cloths, and delicious local dishes.
Try Caccio e Pepe, a simple pasta dish with cheese and black pepper, often served in a bowl made of cheese. As you twirl your pasta in the bowl, it slowly melts to become part of the dish. Delizioso!
After resting your feet awhile, visit Santa Maria in Trastevere, one of the oldest churches in Rome.
Back at the Tiber, cross a bridge and notice the little island, Isola Tiburina. Once the site of a temple to the Greek god of medicine and healing, it became home to a hospital in the late 1500s and remains a hospital today.
Across the river, you will find yourself Rome’s Jewish Ghetto. What was once the city’s least appealing neighborhood is now one of its most charming.
Wander its streets and into its shops and speak with the people. It’s amazing what you can learn just by getting to know locals and showing interest in their home.
Inside a little shoe store, we struck up a conversation with the owner and another customer, first about shoes, and then about the area.
They took us outside to show us the little bronze, brick shaped plaques in front of many of the doorways. We learned that they were placed in honor and memory of the families who were torn from their homes to become victims of the holocaust.
In the same conversation, they pointed out the best place for an aperitivo in the neighborhood, which, of course, was right down the street from the store, and from the famous Lago del Torre Argentina with its lounging cats.
That evening we sipped our Aperol Spritz and sampled local Roman cuisine in the company of other Romans, our new friend from the shoe store, and our lovely little neighborhood turtle fountain, Fontana delle Tartarughe. Doesn’t everything sound better in Italian?
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Lindsay Sinko, Passion for Italy Travel, USA