• Photo: Zach Nelson / Fodors Travel

Trastevere

Trastevere (literally, "across the Tiber") can feel a world apart from the rest of Rome and despite galloping gentrification, the bohemian neighborhood remains about the most tightly knit community in Rome.

Perfectly picturesque piazzas, tiny winding medieval alleyways, and time-burnished Romanesque houses all cast a frozen-in-time spell, while grand art awaits at Santa Maria in Trastevere, San Francesco a Ripa, and the Villa Farnesina. The neighborhood's greatest attraction, however, is simply its atmosphere—traditional shops set along crooked streets, peaceful during the day and alive with throngs of restaurant- and partygoers at night. From here, a steep hike up stairs and along the road to the Gianicolo, Rome’s highest hill, earns you a panoramic view of the city.

The inhabitants of Trastevere don't even call themselves Romans but Trasteverini, claiming that they, not the citizens north of the river, are the true remaining Romans. A visit here still feels a bit like entering a different time and place. Some call it the world's second-smallest nation (after the Vatican, which is No. 1). The district remains an enchanting confusion of past and present.

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