Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Rome's Trastevere section - Far From The Madding Crowd

Wednesday, April 13:   This morning I felt rested and eager to get out and really explore some areas of Rome that the tourists and their tour guides pretty much ignore or, most likely, don't even know about.

After a nice breakfast at the hotel restaurant, and with my pocket map at hand, I set out toward the Trastevere section of Rome, just on the other side of the Tiber River from the Jewish Ghetto section.

Small cataracts on the Tiber River

It was another perfectly glorious day in Rome! I walked down toward the Tiber and then crossed over on the Ponte Garibaldi. Just before getting on to the bridge I could catch a glimpse of the little falls or cataracts just beyond the bridge span. From atop this bridge I had a beautiful view of the river itself and the nice wide banks with pedestrian and bicycle lanes on either side.

Nice view of the Tiber, looking north


The Ponte Sisto crosses the Tiber just to the north of the bridge I was standing on,  This is a medieval bridge built in the 1400's by Pope Sixtus on the foundations of an even older, ancient Roman bridge, the Pons Aurelius. Today Ponte Sisto is a pedestrian bridge.

View of Ponte Sisto, ancient bridge now only for pedestrians

Once in the Trastevere section, I set out in search of Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere, which is Rome's oldest basilica. This is an ancient part of Rome and the streets are a maze of narrow cobble-stoned alleys that intersect and bisect and head off in a disarray of odd angles. Soon I was disoriented and would have been hard-pressed to tell north from south. But it didn't matter. I was in no hurry and had no agenda today except to just totally enjoy and absorb the Roman lifestyle and culture and to stay as far away from the tourist scene as possible.

A pleasant little neighborhood bakery and espresso bar

Eventually I struck upon a little street large enough to appear on my pocket map and I could make my way to the lovely Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere.

Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere

There was a man sitting on a little chair in the middle of the piazza, playing O Sole Mio on an accordion. It was a beautiful scene, but I couldn't help but smile at the cliche that this represented.

An accordionist playing O Sole Mio - doesn't get any more Italian than that!

I walked over to the lovely Basilica and admired the fragments of very ancient Latin Roman marble that were preserved in the plaster work on the portico.

Fragments of ancient Roman marble, embedded in outside portico wall of the basilica

Then I stepped inside to admire the opulence of this 2nd-4th century-based basilica's interior. Signs forbade photography, so I respected their wish and kept my camera in my purse. It was beautiful inside, with rich and very ancient 12th century mosaics and gilt work, and a beautiful carved wood pulpit.
Fountain the piazza

Outside the basilica, in the center of the piazza, is a fountain erected in the 1600's. It was really a lovely and peaceful plaza and I decided to sit outside at the little trattoria on the piazza and enjoy an espresso while taking in the view of the basilica. This area was almost completely devoid of tourists, much to my delight.

Enjoying an espresso while overlooking the piazza and basilica

From here I wandered north out of the piazza and found myself deep in the warren of tiny narrow cobbled alleys hemmed in on all sides by the looming medieval buildings. It was disorienting but oh, so cool!! It was easy to imagine life on these little narrow streets 500 years ago.

Beautiful wisteria against the side of medieval buildings in Trastevere

The determination of this rose bush trained to be a tree is amazing.
In the ancient Trastevere section of Rome.

I continued to wander, having absolutely no idea where my wanderings would take me and having no idea where I was, since my pocket map simply did not show the close-up detail of all of these tiny little meandering alleyways. But I didn't care! I was happy to be here in a very authentic section of Rome and very far away from all of the crowds and noise and traffic and tourists!

Random florist cart somewhere in the maze of alleyways
in Trastevere section of Rome

Around one corner I came upon a florist stand, tucked into a little open space amid all of the narrow alleys. So random, but so pretty!

As I wandered, I was pretty confident I'd eventually come across a real street and then I'd know where I was. I came upon a delivery truck squeezing its way along one of these narrow alleys and I knew at that point that I was probably within a block or so of a major street. And sure enough...I popped out near Piazza Trilussa on the bank of the Tiber and just near Ponte Sisto. Perfect!

At the entrance to Ponte Sisto there was a chain to keep vehicles off the bridge. That chain was covered with love locks, which has become a growing trend all over the world, despite ordinances in some cities that prohibit them. But I think it's a fun idea, just so long as it's not defacing or damaging.

Love locks on chain across Ponte Sisto entrance


I walked across Ponte Sisto and then continued along the river toward Torre Argentina, back the way I came.

Tiber River
Piazza Benedetto Cairoli

I stopped in at the hotel restaurant for a little pick-me-up.


I passed by a nice little corner trattoria several times over the last few days so thought I'd go ahead and step in to have a late lunch. Their menu looked good, with lots of interesting dishes to choose from. Ultimately I went with the pasta dish with walnuts and anchovies. Oh, my! It was handmade pasta, wonderfully thick and al dente, served with roasted walnuts that had an almost charred flavor to them, and anchovies. The sauce was extremely light, mostly olive oil based. It all went together so perfectly well! I must see if I can replicate this once I get home.

Once again, another full day and I was ready to stop moving for awhile. I had a late dinner at the hotel and then started doing some preliminary packing, and making plans for my last morning in Rome.

Tomorrow, I check out of the hotel, leave my baggage with them for the day, and set out on my last day of seeing Rome's beauty.



1 comment:

  1. How very cool to just be wandering around the little alleyways. To think of all those buildings have seen over the hundreds of years, but are still so beautiful. And that wisteria is gorgeous.

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