Explore Rome’s bohemian Trastevere district and enjoy the great restaurants

Explore Rome’s bohemian Trastevere district and enjoy the great restaurants

The cuisine in Rome is superb and I’d like to share some of the ‘best’ food we ate in the delightful Trastevere district in Rome.

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My favourite, little sweet clams

I love Italian food and while the weather is still balmy in September, there is nothing more enjoyable than sitting outside on the pavement and watching the world go by.

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Trastevere is on the west side of the river, a little south of the Vatican City. It was historically a centre for artisans and immigrants and has retained its bohemian appeal with a lot of young people about as the American University, John Cobot is in Trastevere.

Stucco buildings and homes dating from the 16th century drip with ivy and flower-filled window boxes in narrow cobble-stone alleys.

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Typical homes in Trastevere

The neighbourhood centre is the piazza Santa Maria, with the oldest church in Rome, Basilica di Santa Maria built-in the 4th century. Close by, is the Taverna Trilussa Trastevere, a bucolic hot spot that can be hard to get into.

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The outdoor courtyard at Taverna Trilussa Trastevere is reserved for the locals

You need to book months in advance to sit outside, but I suspect they keep these prime tables for the locals, which is OK.

Inside this high-end rustic restaurant is an eclectic array of decorations, from legs of prosciutto and sausage, to tennis memorabilia on the walls. Talking with our waitress, the owner has some association with world-class tennis, but we couldn’t work out what the connection was.

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Big chunky legs of prosciutto and olives add to the excess of this great restaurant, Traverna Trilussa Trastevere

The pasta was cooked and served in pans making the meals look very authentic and ensuring the last of the delicious sauce could be mopped up with the lashing of bread.

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We walked back to the piazza Santa Maria after dinner and the beautifully lit façade of the Basilica di Santa Maria illuminated the square.

We loved the vibe of the community so much we came back the next night. I got a sense Trastevere is a real community and the locals go about their business, despite the infiltration of tourists.

Quite by surprise, the next night, we found ourselves in a little Catholic church during Mass, with a congregation of half a dozen nuns and a few locals. Their evening ritual was hard to drag ourselves away from, as the congregation sang in unison with the priest. After receiving communion, we graciously slipped away.

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Sitting in a small courtyard around the corner from the church we listened to the early evening bird song, enjoying a drink before dinner.

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From the building above us an elderly lady lowered her wicker basket from her opened window to the pavement below.

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In a hoarse voice she issued instructions and the man from the mini-mart below came out to fulfil her request. Obediently, he crossed the road to the gelato store, bought her ice-cream and put it in the basket so she could reel it back up.

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Apparently, this is a regular occurrence. She is one of the eldest members in the community and although capable of climbing the stairs, she prefers to dictate to the folk below.

We later dined at La Scala on the sidewalk and my oversized ravioli, stuffed with buffalo’s ricotta, mushrooms, smoked ham and parmesan was memorable, as were the other meals.

La scala

While enjoying our dinner we were lucky to witness the aftermath of a wedding across the road. An elderly couple emerged from the church. He not a day short of 85 years and she not that far off.

He was dressed in a suit with bow tie and she in an electric blue dress. A young group of girls surrounded them, holding their instruments and we assumed they played at the wedding. They eventually dispersed and the happy couple walked down the road into the distance.

When next in Rome don’t cut your time short in Trastevere. You could spend days exploring the twisted alleys and eating very well.

 

Jane Jeffries

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