If you want the perfect balance of local feel and great food in Rome, stay in Trastevere!
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A quick note about coronavirus and my travel content: in these crazy times, I know much of the world isn’t traveling right now. But my hope is that you keep dreaming and planning for travel, and when the time comes, you go! In that spirit, I’ll continue sharing travel tips for when it’s safe for global travel.
Trastevere is considered one of the oldest parts of Rome, and the most local. Italians coming to visit Rome always prefer Trastevere. The magic of Trastevere is that it has retained so much of its essence throughout political and tourism influences over the years and centuries.
Small cobblestone streets are quiet in the mornings before the tourists are up and about. The locals walk their dogs, gather for a coffee, chat with their neighbors.
At night, much of it is boisterous, full of vacationers and locals alike. But if you walk a bit further from the river, you hit quiet residential streets dripping with ivy.
Rome is spread out enough that you’ll walk a fair bit to get anywhere, and Trastevere is situated roughly equidistant between the Colosseum and St. Peter’s Basilica. In a city that always means walking, it’s a great midway spot!
Staying in Trastevere
Because the area is so old-school and local, there aren’t any large traditional hotels. But there are tons of Airbnbs, guest houses, and the like. We stayed in an Airbnb on one of the main streets and loved it! We were minutes from all the great restaurants and steps from the best gelateria.
You could happily eat all your meals in Rome without leaving Trastevere. The food here is incredibly good, so here are a few suggestions to get you started!
Tonarello has probably been the number one recommended restaurant in Trastevere. They serve classic Roman food, all on tonarelli, it’s namesake and the traditional Roman pasta of choice.
The meatballs are DELICIOUS and work perfectly well as a meal on their own. By the way, please take note that Italians don’t eat meatballs on pasta. They’re their own dish, so don’t be surprised if there are no noodles! Served with chicory (cicoria) and some of the best roasted potatoes I’ve ever had.
Their pasta is also excellent, served in the pans the sauce is cooked in. If you want an appetizer, try their supplì – a combination of different types of fried rice balls. Also, get the focaccia – it’s worth it, I promise.
It hits the sweet spot of truly great food at reasonable prices! As such, it gets very crowded. Call ahead or swing by to make a reservation if you want to go for dinner. The same rules apply to its sister restaurant, Nannarella – identical menu even down to the wine.
Taverna Trilussa was our last dinner in Trastevere, and it was the perfect meal to end our trip on a high note!
They have an extensive charcuterie menu, meaning all the fresh meats and cheese you could want and helpful staff to point you in the right direction. I you sit inside, you’ll walk straight past the carving station – I dare you to walk past without drooling.
Their pastas are fabulous, complete with an award-winning secret sauce that we spent entirely too much time trying to guess what was in it. It was cheesy and rich but somehow still light.
A bit pricier than the others I’ve shared, this was our splurge. When traveling in cities with a huge tourism presence, I sometimes assume that pricier restaurants don’t necessarily have better food, but are hoping tourists assume they do. Not the case with Taverna Trilussa!
Breakfast in Trastevere
We were eating such extensive lunches and dinners that we skimped on breakfast – usually just a cappuccino and maybe a pastry.
If you want proper delicious French patisserie, head to Le Levain! They have a counter full of elegant dessert pasty options if you’re feeling fancy, and another counter with more traditional breakfast pastry options. It’s the perfect option for a quick but truly delicious and elegant breakfast. I swear, I had the best quiche lorraine I’ve ever tasted here.
If you just need a cappuccino or caffe, try Latteria Trastevere. A classic bar, meaning a coffeeshop in the morning and bar in the evening, their drinks are delicious and quick for a caffeinate and go option.
Mimì e Cocò
Mimì e Cocò is equal parts bar and restaurant, so feel free to treat it as such! It’s well placed to sit outside and people watch (the Italian national pastime) or sit inside in a glitzy bar scene – win/win.
Wanting to up my veggie intake, I ordered a secondo instead of pasta. Saltimbocca is a traditional Roman dish with veal wrapped in prosciutto with a wine sauce. Served with a salad, it’s a great local meal.
Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fa
As a country, beer isn’t a particular strength of Italy’s. But if you’re willing to hunt, you can sometimes find bars or breweries offering great craft beer.
This spot it 100% that! Ma che siete venuti a fa, meaning but what have you come to do, has a classic dive bar feel but serves only beer. In the late afternoon and evening, locals take their beer outside to sit or stand along the curb and catch up with friends.
Gelato in Trastevere
Gelateria Alla Scala
Can you really say you’ve gone to Italy if you haven’t eaten gelato? It’s the perfect midday pick-me-up or way to end the night. I found two gelaterie I loved!
Gelateria Alla Scala has a great balance of classic flavors and unique finds. Their cinnamon flavor (cannella) is so good. Pair it with frutti di bosco (mixed berries, literally fruits of the forest) for something approaching pie filling and thank me later.
Gelateria del Viale
Want more? Gelateria del Viale is a bit further from the main restaurant and nightlife scene, but worth it for a quiet stroll along the tree-lined Tiber river. The lavender and violet flavor is perfect on a hot day!
All of that to say, Trastevere is a perfect jumping off point for your stay in Rome! I suspect I’ll never stay anywhere else when I visit; it’s that good.
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