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Short history of Trastevere in Rome


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bridge over river tiberSitting snugly between the Vatican City and the Borgo suburbs of Rome, Trastevere is one of the city’s most ancient areas and considered by many to be one of the few remaining authentic nooks of the Italian capital. Trendy and avant-garde yet exuding an unmistakable old-school charm, Trastevere is a brilliant accommodation choice for any visitor wanting to experience the more authentic side of Rome as well as have access to its most prized attractions.

Wonderfully close to the Vatican City, the Colosseum and other innumerable gems, as well as being home to some of the city’s most ancient ruins, Trastevere is best known for its vibrant Saturday flea market and the breathtaking views its hilltop location gifts. The suburb’s very multicultural past, and long-held cultural importance, has also ensured it remains one of the most eclectic parts of Rome, and home to some of the best ethnic eateries and flea markets in the entire city. Want a taste of all that Rome has to offer on your next vacation? Then do yourself a favour: book your vacation rental apartment in Trastevere and experience the true essence of Roman life.

The area of modern-day Trastevere has been inhabited for thousands of years, yet its relative isolation helped it to not only maintain its uniqueness, but also create a cultural identity dissimilar to that of the rest of the city.

During Rome’s famous Regal Period, Trastevere was an Etruscan settlement and was only invaded and captured in the 8th century BC to ensure the Roman Empire could be defended from both sides of the river. Interest in constructing a full settlement here was certainly not in the cards, and Trastevere was left to its own devices for many centuries after that. As a matter of fact, the only bridge which connected this suburb to the rest of Rome was a rickety old wooden bridge, while nowadays there are seven bridges connecting it to the city centre.

During ancient Roman times, the inhabitants were mostly Syrian, and those in turn were replaced by Jews, who continued to live here well into the Middle Ages. As the city’s population suffered a major decrease during these times, Jewish traders began a great exodus of Trastevere, and the entire suburb was left almost completely deserted for the next few centuries. It was only after Trastevere’s inclusion in Rome’s greater boundaries that rich Roman residents started to build their formidable mansions here. Even Julius Caesar had an impressive villa built in the area! Unsurprisingly, intricately designed churches soon followed, and Trastevere is now saturated with culturally important monuments and buildings.

Trastevere may have changed hands many times over through the millennia, but its intrinsically different character remains. As you take a walk through its maze of cobblestone streets, you’ll notice opulent ancient palaces standing alongside old medieval shacks; you’ll admire haute couture boutiques sharing a sidewalk with centuries-old flea markets. This incredible fusion of rich and poor is still very visible today, and is one of the aspects which make Trastevere such an intriguing suburb to explore at length. Moreover Trastevere continues to attract a most eccentric crowd, and is the favoured hub for the city (and indeed the country’s) artistic crowd.

Nowadays, Trastevere is divided into three separate sections, each with its own attraction. The northern part is luscious and saturated with parks, the central area is considered the historic quarter, and the southern end is where you’ll find the more affluent residences and boutiques.

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