The History of Trastevere: A Journey into the Authentic Heart of Rome Tours

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Trastevere, one of Rome’s most fascinating and authentic neighborhoods, is a place where the past and present harmoniously blend. With its cobblestone streets, pastel-colored houses, and vibrant atmosphere, Trastevere has preserved its popular and bohemian soul. But behind its picturesque beauty lies a rich and complex history worth telling. In this article, through a historical journey filled with curiosities and events, we will tell you all about this district.


The Origins of Trastevere – The Roman Era and Its Phases

The name “Trastevere” comes from the Latin “Trans Tiberim” meaning “beyond the Tiber.” This is because, since the time of Augustus, this area remained outside the city proper. During the Roman era, the neighborhood was mainly inhabited by immigrants, sailors, and fishermen from across the Mediterranean. Only from the end of the Republican age did Trastevere begin to populate with buildings and residences. Indeed, during the imperial age, the district transformed into a vast neighborhood inhabited by the people who gradually specialized in various professions (today, traces of the different jobs the Roman people engaged in can be found in the street names that reference them).


Urban Layout and Social Relevance of Trastevere

The Rione’s (district’s) traffic system was based on two main roads that both headed towards the Sublicio Bridge: the “via Campana” to the south and the “via Aurelia” to the west. The first road led to the salt pans at the mouth of the Tiber and later formed the first section of the “via Portuensis,” while the second is today’s via della Lungaretta, which then climbs towards the Gianicolo to end at Porta Aurelia.

Due to its strategic location near the Tiber River and its mouth, but also at the center of Rome’s socio-cultural life, Trastevere gradually gained more importance while maintaining its popular character, which distinctly set it apart from the rest of the city. The houses constituted an irregular mass and were built quickly without a precise urban planning criterion. With the spread of Christianity, the first churches began to emerge, such as Santa Maria in Trastevere.


The Expansion of Trastevere in the 16th and 17th Centuries

Pope Julius II wanted the opening of another large road axis, which today corresponds to via della Lungara and connected the Vatican from Porta Santo Spirito to the Capitoline Hill. A century later, another major road axis was opened, which today is via di San Francesco a Ripa.

Unlike other Rioni, Trastevere did not undergo evident improvements: no lavish churches were built, no cardinals lived there, and no grand noble palaces were constructed, but only humble dwellings for the people and houses of the future middle class. In the following two centuries, the district thus expanded around these road axes.


The Urban Revolution of 1870

From this moment on, a new layout was implemented that radically changed part of the Rione. The most important intervention was the creation of Viale del Re, later renamed Viale del Lavoro, and eventually transformed into Viale Trastevere. This new important road axis connected, through the new Garibaldi Bridge, via Arenula with Trastevere Station, destined to become an important railway hub towards the north along the Tyrrhenian coast. During the years of work for the creation of this communication axis, Roma Termini station became increasingly important for passenger traffic. Thus, Trastevere Station, which at the time faced Piazza Ippolito Nievo and not at the end of Viale Trastevere as it does today, grew primarily for freight traffic. The creation of the avenue forever altered the original urban layout of the neighborhood, creating de facto two distinct parts that remain separate to this day, downgrading the importance of the previous road axes created in previous centuries.

Trastevere was named the XIII district of Rome on May 18, 1743, with a chirograph by Pope Benedict XIV. The district’s emblem is a golden lion’s head on a red field.


The Modern and Contemporary Age

In the 19th century, with the creation of Viale Trastevere, the neighborhood became an important working-class and industrial center. Many workers moved to the district, bringing with them new traditions and customs. Despite the urban transformations that affected Rome during this period, Trastevere managed to preserve its authentic and popular character.

In the 20th century, the neighborhood underwent further changes with the arrival of mass tourism. The old artisan shops and traditional taverns were joined by restaurants, cafes, and nightclubs, transforming Trastevere into one of the liveliest and most frequented places in Rome, where it is still possible to breathe the genuine and characteristic air of old Rome.


Curiosities and Traditions of Trastevere

  1. The Festa de’ Noantri

One of the district’s most heartfelt traditions is the “Festa de’ Noantri,” celebrated every year in July in honor of the Madonna del Carmine. During this festival, Trastevere’s streets fill with processions, shows, stalls, and fireworks, creating a festive and engaging atmosphere.


  1. Trasteverian Cuisine

Trastevere is also famous for its authentic and genuine cuisine. The district’s trattorias and osterias offer typical Roman dishes such as pasta alla carbonara, abbacchio alla scottadito, and carciofi alla giudia. Among the historic establishments are Antica Osteria Rugantino, Pasta e Vino Osteria – Trastevere, Nannarella, Impiccetta, and Osteria da Zi Umberto, typical trattorias where you can enjoy real Roman cuisine.


  1. The Fountains and Alleys

Strolling through Trastevere, one can discover numerous fountains and hidden alleys, each with its own history and charm. The Fontana dell’Acqua Paola, located on the Gianicolo, offers a spectacular view of Rome, while alleys like Via della Lungaretta and Vicolo del Cinque are perfect for getting lost and immersing oneself in the unique atmosphere of the district.



Trastevere is a neighborhood that enchants with its beauty, history, and vibrancy. Every corner, every alley tells a story, testifying to the cultural and social richness of this unique place. Visiting Trastevere means taking a journey through time, discovering the deepest roots of Rome, and being fascinated by its authentic and indomitable spirit.

Whether you are tourists or Romans, a stroll through Trastevere is an unmissable experience, an opportunity to discover the beating heart of the eternal city and to live moments of pure magic and beauty.