Rione XIII:Trastevere Art & Culture

1/4/2008 by Friendsinrome Italy

Trastevere is rione XIII of Rome, on the west bank of the Tiber, south of Vatican City. Its name comes from the Latin trans Tiberim, meaning literally "beyond the Tiber". People in Trastevere use to call theirself "Noantri" (we others) as opposed to " voantri who live in other districts". Its logo is a golden head of a lion on a red background, the meaning of which is uncertain. History Modern-day Trastevere Festa de Noantri Map with Trastevere attractions


In Rome's Regal period (753-509 BC), the area across the Tiber belonged to the hostile Etruscans: the Romans named it Ripa Etrusca (Etruscan bank). Rome conquered it to gain control of and access to the river from both banks, but was not interested in building on that side of the river. In fact, the only connection between Trastevere and the rest of the city was a small wooden bridge called the Pons Sublicius (Latin: "bridge built on piles"). By the time of the Republic in 509, the number of sailors and fishermen making a living from the river had increased, and many had taken up residence in Trastevere. Immigrants from the East also settled there, mainly Jews and Syrians. The area began to be considered part of the city under Augustus, who divided Rome into 14 regions (regiones in Latin); modern Trastevere was the XIV and was called Trans Tiberim. The area really became part of the city under Aurelian (270-275), who made larger protecting walls to include Trastevere and the Vatican hill. With the wealth of the Imperial Age, several important figures decided to build their villae in Trastevere, including Clodia, (Catullus' "friend") and Julius Caesar (his garden villa, the Horti Caesaris). The regio included two of the most ancient churches in Rome, the Titulus Callixti, later called basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere, and the Titulus Cecilae, Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. In the Middle Ages Trastevere had narrow, winding, irregular streets; moreover, because of the mignani (structures on the front of buildings) there was no space for carriages to pass. At the end of the 1400s these mignani were removed. Nevertheless, Trastevere remained a maze of narrow streets. There was a strong contrast between the large, opulent houses of the upper classes and the small, dilapidated houses of the poor. The streets had no pavement until the time of Sixtus IV at the end of the 1400s. At first bricks were used, but these were later replaced by sampietrini (cobble stones), which were more suitable for carriages. Thanks to its partial isolation (it was "beyond the Tiber") and to the fact that it its population had been multicultural since the ancient Roman period, the inhabitants of Trastevere, called Trasteverini, developed a culture of their own. In 1744 Benedict XIV modified the borders of the rioni, giving Trastevere its modern limits.

Trastevere in the XIX century by Ettore Roesler Franz

Modern-day Trastevere

Nowadays, Trastevere maintains its character thanks to its narrow cobbled streets lined by medieval houses. At night the streets both Italians and foreigners flock to its many pubs and restaurants. However, much of the original character of Trastevere remains.

Festa de Noantri

In July, it runs the "Festa de Noantri" the origins of the festival are shrouded in legend: it is said that after a furious storm, near the mouth of the Tiber, was found by some fishermen a statue of the Virgin Mary, sculpted in cedar wood. The "Madonna fiumarola" was donated to the Carmelites (hence the name Madonna del Carmine) of the church of St Chrysogonus in Trastevere. It became so the "Trasteverini" Madonna protector and the statue was placed in an oratory, and then, every year, the first Saturday after July 16, the statue of the Virgin Mary covered in precious jewels and clothes, was carried in procession through the streets of district up to the church of San Chrysogonus, where remained for eight days (the ottavario of adoration) to return later in the church of St. Agatha. For a long period some youngsters, also known as "cicoriari" because collectors chicory to Campoli, a country close to Frosinone, in the two processions led to shoulder the heavy machine where the statue was located. Later it was established that a special brotherhood "carriers" that every year contesting the privilege of bringing Madonna, paying for this enormous sums of money. The hundreds of people who followed the procession dumped then in the streets, where they were placed tables, eating and drinking wine. Many were also vendors and grattachecche watermelons. Over time the festival has been transformed in addition to religious events alternate today shows, cultural activities and walks between banquets sweets, toys, handicrafts and small curiosity. A fireworks display concludes the festivities.

Map with Trastevere attractions

Zoom in and click the map icons for more details on each attraction in Trastevere:

Check out the Map


Friendsinrome Italy

Sorry, you must sign in to Leave your comment

Forgot your password? | Join us it's free

the international voice