Our walk starts from Piazza Trilussa, which was previously known as “Piazza di Ponte Sisto” as it was dedicated to the poet Carlo Alberto Salustri (1871-1950), who was known as Trilussa.
In the square, in addition to the seventeenth-century fountain commissioned by Pope Paul V Borghese, you can admire a bronze statue portraying the poet in the act of reciting verses from his poem.
Continuing through the narrow streets and enchanting little squares, you’ll come to the baroque Church of Santa Maria della Scala, in front of which stands a large eighteenth-century tower, which probably belonged to the powerful Stefaneschi family in the Middle Ages.
Also in the square, don’t you can’t miss the Antica Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala, the first pharmacy in the capital, which famously became the “Pharmacy of the Popes”. A short distance away, in Via della Lungara, is the charming Villa Farnesina, which was built in the early sixteenth century by the wealthy Sienese banker Agostino Chigi, and is now home to the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.
An authentic Renaissance jewel, inside, the villa preserves the frescoes of artists including Raffaello, Sebastiano del Piombo, Baldassarre Peruzzi and Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, named the Sodoma.
Colourful streets lead us to the front of the Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere, which, according to tradition, was founded by Pope Callistus I in the 3rd century and rebuilt in the 12th century, during the papacy of Pope Innocent II.
The ideal time to visit is at sunset, if you want to fully enjoy the playing lights offered by the thirteenth century mosaics that adorn its facade.
At the centre of the square stands one of the oldest public fountains in Rome, which is supplied with Acqua Paola, the first documented restoration of which was carried out by Bramante.
On Piazza Sidney Sonnino you can overlook the Basilica of San Crisogono, whose annexe has almost the same intact layout as the previous early Christian building. On crossing Viale Trastevere, you reach the less crowded part of the district, which is built around the Basilica di Santa Cecilia in Trastevere.
Legend has it that the church was built on the family home of Cecilia, a Roman noble woman who converted to Christianity in 220 and was condemned to death.
By passing along Via Anicia, you reach Piazza San Francesco d’Assisi. Here stands the Church of San Francesco a Ripa, which owes its name to its proximity to the surprising port of Ripa Grande.
Inside the church, in the Altieri chapel, is one of the best masterpieces by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the blessed Ludovica Albertoni.
Don’t leave out a trip to Tiber Island, the only urban island on the Tiber. According to legend, this island appears to have arisen from a pile of sheaves of wheat belonging to the Tarquins, which the Romans threw into the river during their expulsion from the city. The island, in the shape of a ship, hosted a temple in honour of Aesculapius, and an obelisk, like a ship’s mast.
Nowadays, the Church of San Bartolomeo all’Isola stands on the ruins of the temple. From the island you can see a portion of the old Pons Aemilius, commonly referred to as the “Broken Bridge”, which emerges from the water.
Head towards Piazza di Santa Maria, the heart of this labyrinthine district; take Via del Moro, with its many shops and cafes, then divert into the quiet cobblestoned side streets lined with crumbling buildings with faded paintwork.
Plants and religious shrines brighten up the streets, washing is strung up between buildings, and graffiti covers the shutters of closed bars...
When you reach the piazza, join the locals, tourists and buskers and take a seat on the steps of the fountain – a great spot for people-watching.
This lovely neighbourhood square is dominated by 12th-century Basilica di Santa Maria; step inside its dimly lit interior to see the glittering Cavallini mosaics depicting the font of oil that spouted when Christ was born – according to myth, the church was founded on that very spot.
Cut across busy Viale Trastevere and wind your way down peaceful lanes to Piazza di Santa Cecilia. The Basilica di Santa Cecilia was built on top of the saint's house; in the year 230 she supposedly survived decapitation for three days and when her tomb was opened in 1599 her body was in corrupt.
Visit the crypt, admire the mosaics, and if you ring the bell the nuns will show you the last remaining Cavallini frescoes in Rome.
Above the gardens is the Gianicolo, the eighth hill of Rome. It’s worth the 20-minute climb for some of the best views in the city, and it sees few tourists. To reach the top, head back through Porta Settimiana, take Via Garibaldi, then Passeggiata del Gianicolo; you’ll see the Garibaldi statue at the top. You might even catch a puppet show there.
To fuel up for the night ahead, take your pick of trattorias, pizzerias or fine dining. For a local feel, try Da Corrado, a small, family-run trattoria in Via della Pelliccia serving authentic Roman cuisine.
If pizza takes your fancy, head to Dar Poeta on Vicolo del Bologna, or Bir & Fud on Via Benedetta (which also serves fantastic craft beers from Italian brewers).
There's no shortage of spots to slake your thirst – bustling Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà (named after a football chant) on Via Benedetta has craft beers from Italy and beyond.
But if craft beers don't tickle your tastebuds, Freni e Frezioni on Via del Politeama is a lively, cool bar that spills out into its piazza and offers cocktails and aperitivo (buffet of early evening snacks).
For some of the cheapest beer in Rome, go to buzzing Bar San Calisto on Piazza di San Calisto and soak up the vibrant atmosphere on the terrace with a €1.50 Peroni. It’s a great spot to end your perfect day in Trastevere.
Tips and tricks for Trastevere
Opening times: many churches close around midday for a few hours, and several businesses are closed on Mondays.
Getting there: Trastevere is walkable from the city centre; alternatively take tram number 8 to Viale Trastevere.
Sunday shopping: Porta Portese’s enormous Sunday flea market sells everything from antiques to clothes – prepare to bargain hard!
Where to stay: Modern Relais Casa della Fornarina is next to Porta Settimiana and rooms offer city views and free wifi. Three-star Hotel Trastevere overlooks San Cosimato market and there are also apartments available.