Best places to stay in Trastevere

by Amy Knauff

Full disclosure: I live in Trastevere myself, so I’m biased about the area. Having said that, I can honestly say that if I were visiting Rome for the first time (or second… or third…) , I’d love to stay here.

You only need to look around at the architecture to see that Trastevere is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. It truly feels like it’s from a different time, with buildings of all different sizes and built at different times crammed next to each other on narrow, winding cobblestone streets.

There’s not much vehicle traffic on most of the small streets so it ends up being a largely pedestrian area. It’s got loads of excellent restaurants, coffee bars, gelaterie, and wine bars (there are plenty of subpar touristy ones too, so you have to know what to pick). It has its own train station with a train that goes to Fiumicino airport every 30 minutes, so if you’re flying into/out of FCO, it’s super easy to get there. And best of all: it’s within walking distance of pretty much anything you want to see in the center of Rome (less than 40 mins by foot from the Vatican, 20 mins from the Colosseum, 10-30 mins to other tourist sights in the historic center), while still being slightly off the tourist (read: expensive) track. If you like to walk, you may never have to set foot on public transport during your stay.

I’ll be honest about the downsides of Trastevere, too: there’s no metro stop particularly close to the area, so if you’re coming to Rome in/out of Termini station, you have to take a bus, which can be a pain. I wouldn’t bother staying in Trastevere for just 1 night if your exit/entry point is Termini – too inconvenient. Trastevere is known for its nightlife (it’s pretty quiet in the daytime), so some areas can be really loud and crowded – which is a lot of fun, but just make sure you don’t book a place, say, right on Via della Lungaretta, which is packed with people walking, talking, and generally making merry until late at night.

Trastevere can be divided into two parts – or three, some might say. The two sections of the main area of Trastevere are west and east of Viale Trastevere, the big street with the tram line that cuts the neighborhood into two parts. The area west of Viale Trastevere (around Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere, the hub)  is the more popular area for going out at night. The area east of Viale Trastevere (around Piazza di Santa Cecilia) is the quieter, more residential side of Trastevere, so it feels more “authentic” somehow. It still has some restaurants and night spots, and therefore some noisy tourists out and about, but it’s not packed with them like the other side is.

The third part of the neighborhood is close to Trastevere train station, going away from the historic center and the river. It’s still considered Trastevere, but it’s the less picturesque, slightly more modern part of Trastevere. The buildings tend to be taller and a little newer, the streets are more trafficked and less cobblestoney, and it doesn’t have quite the same charm as the “main” area of Trastevere. Having said that, it’s still convenient because, of course, it’s near the station, and the tram line 8 takes you right up to the “old” Trastevere (5 mins), across the river, and into the historic center (10-15 mins).

We work with places to stay in all three of these areas of Trastevere, and some of our favorites are:

La Bernardon Guesthouse – double rooms for 80 euros a night with ensuite bathroom and breakfast, close to the San Cosimato outdoor market and near via Roma Libera, where there are lots of good wine bars and restaurants:

 

La Casa di Kaia from 51 euros a night for a double room with shared bathroom, just a block from Santa Cecilia church and on one of Trastevere’s quietest streets:

 

Burns B&B – one double guestroom, with friendly American host Marisa, for 85 euros a night with ensuite bathroom:

 

Truly Trastevere Studio Apartment , a typical charming old Trasteverean apartment, for 95 euros a night:

 

Ecostudio Trastevere Apartment, right in the heart of things but luckily spared from the street noise, for 90 euros a night:

 

Appartamento Fabrizi – a one-bedroom apartment, located in a truly unique apartment complex, for 105 euros a night:

 

Suite Trilussa – a classy studio apartment around one of Trastevere’s favorite squares for 115 euros a night:

 

 

Best places to stay around Rome’s Termini Station

Termini gets mixed reviews.  Many tourists read that it’s a dangerous neighborhood, and many residents, at least those that don’t live near Termini, agree.  But the truth is, in 2000 during the Jubilee Holy Year, most of the neighborhood was redone – millions were invested into new facades and many of the old pensione were renovated.   Reputations are hard to change though, even if they aren’t warranted.

The benefits to staying around Termini are many:  it’s often considerably cheaper here than in other parts of the city; getting in and out of the city by train is easy, so that you don’t have to navigate the crowded buses or metro with suitcases; and no matter where you are in the city, you can always find your way back to Termini easily.  It’s technically in the center of Rome (within the Aurelian walls) and you can walk to the Colosseum/Forum in about 25 minutes, or the same to the Trevi Fountain/Spanish Steps.  It’s probably the most well connected neighborhood in the city as a whole.

The area to the North of Termini is nicer looking though.  For those that know about our hotel, The Beehive, this is where we are located.  Most of the neighborhood is filled with office workers and students during the day, and hotel guests at night.  There are a few streets, right next to Termini, that have a lot of foreigners so you’ll see kebab, Bangladeshi laundromats, etc.  Yet you’ll also see restaurants that have been around for 60+ years with the same families in them.  Speaking of restaurants, even though many are tourist traps, they are often filled with Italians at lunch.  There are two street markets (one small one on Via Milazzo, and a larger one on Via Montebello) with fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as a few traditional bakeries, salumerie, a couple of excellent gelaterias near each other (Come il Latte on Via Silvio Spaventa and La Romana on the corner of Via Piave & XX Settembre) and one of the oldest wine shops in Rome (Trimani on Via Goito).

From the least expensive upward, here are my favorite Cross-Pollinate places in this neighborhood that always get positive reviews, north of Termini – rates quoted are based on high season:

B&B Atos – doubles from €80/night with ensuite bathroom and breakfast voucher at a nearby cafe:

 

Rome Best B&B – doubles from €85/night with ensuite bathroom and breakfast voucher at a nearby bar:

 

Simon’s Suite Apartment from €108/night for 2 guests:

 

Wellness Inn B&B  €130/night for a double with ensuite bathroom and breakfast included:

 

The area just South of Termini has a few blocks that have not been renovated as much and in recent years have had many traditional shops taken over by Chinese wholesalers.   Despite some grunge around here, there’s also some of the gems, if you know where to look.  There’s the Roscioli bakery on Via Buonarotti, which has some of the best pizza bianca and suppli in the city.  There’s Trattoria Monti, one of our favorite restaurants.  And there’s Mercato Esquilino – for food lovers and people watchers, this place is a real find.  You can also splurge and get a pricey cocktail on the rooftop bar of the Radisson SAS hotel on Via Mamiani.  The area is a closer walk to the Colosseum and Forum, as well as the hip and historic neighborhood of Monti (about 15 minutes away by foot) and there’s a few metro entrances for the red line/Line A at Piazza Vittorio which can make it easier to navigate than the metro station at Termini.   In this area, there are a lot of good, inexpensive accommodation with lots of character:

Frank’s House from €75/night, run by an expat New Yorker and his wife:

 

L’Altra Luna from €75/night for double with ensuite bath, breakfast, and use of the kitchen:

 

Clover Guestrooms from €80/night with shared kitchen – these rooms are managed by us through The Beehive.

 

Meltin’ Rome from €80/night:

 

Mr. Frills B&B from €90/night:

 

Walter’s Studio from €95/night:

 

For more information about the neighborhood, be sure and check out these posts from The Beehive’s Blog:

Is Rome Safe?

What’s Around The Beehive?

Putzing Around Piazza Vittorio

The Best of Piazza Vittorio – 3 food tips

 

 

Best places to stay in Rome off the beaten path

There’s more to Rome than Piazza Navona!  Although it’s beautiful in the historic center, there are some setbacks:  older buildings can have bad plumbing and limited power supply.  The prices are higher, in the summer there can be loads of tourists (and lots of noise along with them), and sometimes it’s hard to find restaurants that aren’t overpriced and touristy.

We don’t suggest anything on the site that’s so far out of the center that it would make it difficult to sight-see and visit Rome as a tourist, but there are some areas we love that aren’t on most tourist’s radar and that have some great options for accommodation.  Our favorites are:

Laura’s Mini-studio in Pigneto for just €49/night (for 2 guests):

 

Abbraccia Morfeo B&B with beautiful double rooms from €56/night, also in Pigneto:

 

La Lupa in Trastevere Guesthouse (actually in Monteverde) near the famous Porta Portese flea market and a short tram ride away from Trastevere, has doubles with bathroom from €68/night:

 

Armando’s Belvedere in the student quarter of San Lorenzo near Termini, with doubles from just €50 euro/night:

 

B&B Tata near the San Giovanni metro (and a new metro line opening soon) with doubles that average around €80/night even in high season:

 

Nomentana 1 and 2 bedroom apartments near Porta Pia (about a 20 min. walk north of Termini) – with multiple apartments in the building, these are also a great option for larger groups.  Prices start at €85/night for 2 guests and go up to €180/night for 6 guests:

 

For more information on this last neighborhood, Trieste, check out this blog post of ours.

For a little video on Pigneto, have a look at this video from our friend and food expert, Katie Parla, who gives her tips for where to eat and drink in Pigneto here, and promotes off the beaten track neighborhoods in general here.

 

 

 

Best places to stay around the Colosseum

The little neighborhood just behind the Colosseum is called Celio and it’s the first neighborhood I lived in as an official resident in Rome (so I have a soft spot for it!).  Although small, the neighborhood is a real, living neighborhood, and not just a tourist trap, despite being so close to such a famous monument.  There’s a small street market, a few coffee bars, some great restaurants, including Pizzeria Luzzi on the corner of Via dei Normanni and San Giovanni in Laterano.  There’s the metro line B/blue line nearby, and the lovely little park of Colle Oppio, which was built out of the remains of the Baths of Trajan one of the three largest public bathhouses in ancient Rome.  In Colle Oppio,  there’s a small outdoor cafe, a great place to have an evening aperitivo.  There’s also the Villa Celimontana a beautiful public park with a children’s play area and pony rides.  There’s lots of green and it’s tucked away and quite peaceful for being smack in the middle of a busy area with lots of excellent spots to have a picnic.  If the neighborhood isn’t lively enough for some, you can walk to the other side of the Colosseum to the hip and historic neighborhood of Monti, which is just as picturesque as the area around Piazza Navona, but with better restaurants and less crowds.

Some of my fondest memories are of taking my first daughter when she was 2 years old for evening strolls around the Colosseum to people watch, then to a small cafe called “Cafe Cafe” on SS Quattro, for a glass of port (for me) and some milk and cookies (for her).  Having the Colosseum and the Roman Forum practically as your back yard is pretty memorable, and these places to stay, are definitely affordable, unique and spacious:

Elsa’s B&B with double rooms for €85 /night:

 

Appartamento Colosseo – sleeps up to 5 guests.  Prices start at €95 /night:

 

Appartamento Marco Aurelio for €95 /night for 2 guests:

 

 

Day trip from Rome: the beach (without a car)

by Amy Knauff

The Italians’ beloved national holiday Ferragosto has passed, which means summer is starting to wind down – but it’s still hot in Rome, and central Italy’s moderate climate means there’s about a month of potential beach time left.

The good news is that you don’t need a car to get to the beach – there are several different beaches easily reachable by bus or train. The bad news is that the beaches near Rome aren’t known for being particularly beautiful (or clean). Having said that, if you’re willing to go just a little farther out you can find some very nice, clean beaches. And even a day at one of the closer beaches can be fun – if nothing else, it’s a very typically Roman experience.

Ostia / Torvajanica

Ostia is the beach closest to Rome, and it’s packed with Italians all summer long. The water here does not win any cleanliness awards, so taking a dip is up to your own personal squeamish factor (although plenty of people do!). You can pay a fee to go into a stabilimento – an organized beach complex where you rent an ombrellone (beach umbrella) and lettini (loungers) or sdrai (deck chairs). Otherwise, you can “rough it” by going to the part of Ostia known as i cancelli – a stretch of coastline with several free beaches in a row that are identified by numbered front gates (cancello means gate in Italian). Here you just throw down your beach towel wherever you find a free spot of sand. Heading away from Ostia and the cancelli, you’ll get to another beach called Torvajanica. It’s similar to Ostia, but as it’s slightly farther out, it’s a little less crowded and the water is a little cleaner. In Torvajanica, you’ll find both stabilimenti and free beaches.

Do as the Romans do: go early in the morning and stay until evening. Rent an ombrellone and lettino and spend the day tanning, reading, snoozing, strolling along the water, chatting,  playing cards, and taking swims. Have a panino and gelato from the closest bar for lunch, or better yet, if you’re at a stabilimento, take a break from the sun and have a long, leisurely lunch at their (usually cafeteria-style) restaurant. Don’t forget the Italian summer favorite insalata di riso (a cold rice “salad” with mixed vegetables) or pomodori ripieni (baked tomatoes stuffed with rice). Seafood is a good option too. And if you want to be truly Italian, follow up your meal with some fresh fruit (like a juicy peach or slice of watermelon) and an espresso.

Getting there: Take the metro line B (blue line) to Piramide. Exit the metro station straight into the small Porta San Paolo train station (just next to it, you don’t have to go through a turnstile; use the same ticket you used on the metro). Board the train and exit at the last stop, Cristoforo Colombo (about 40 mins). From there, simply cross the piazza and big street to the other side and you’ll find a few stabilimenti there. Otherwise, you can take the bus from right in front of the train station (bus 07) farther away to the cancelli (another 10-20 minutes) or Torvajanica (another 15 minutes or so). Total transportation cost: €1.50 one way.

Santa Marinella

Again, this beach is winning no beauty contests, but it can actually be easier to get to than Ostia, depending on where you’re coming from, and it’s not quite as close to Rome so the train and beaches are not as packed.

Santa Marinella, near Rome’s port Civitavecchia, is mostly full of stabilimenti but there’s one small free beach – tucked away in a corner near a cement wall. Not very picturesque, but if you’re on a budget, it works.

Getting there: Take the train from Termini station (you can also get a train direct from Trastevere station or San Pietro station) – it takes about 1 hour. When you exit the train station, walk straight up to the main road: the sea is in front of you. Make a right on the main road and walk up until you can cross the street and take the stairs down to where the beach is. It’s about a 5-minute walk. Total transportation cost (from Termini): €4.60 one way.

 

Fregene

The swimming is not great  – last time I was here I saw some trash floating in the water. However, the beach is free (and therefore particularly popular with students and young people) so if you’re into sunbathing, it can be fun to just hang out. Fregene is also known for being something of a pick-up scene, so if you feel like flirting and maybe getting a phone number or two, this is the place to go.

The real reason I’m mentioning Fregene, though, is not for the swimming, but for its nightlife. In the summer, several outdoor bars/restaurants on the beach open up and they get packed with people who come for aperitivo (drinks and a buffet) and to watch the sun set. The bar Singita is particularly popular: you can sit at tables, lie on beds (yes, beds), or lounge on big sheets on the sand while you listen to chill “Buddha bar” type music and sip drinks out of pitchers with extra-long straws.

Getting there: Take the train from Termini to Maccarese-Fregene. From outside the Maccarese station, you’ll need to take a local bus (like the 020) to Fregene. Total transportation cost (from Termini): €4.10 one way.

Sabaudia

This one’s a little trickier to get to by public transport, but well worth it. By far this is one of the prettiest, cleanest beaches near Rome. It regularly wins awards for having some of the cleanest beaches/water in the Lazio region. It’s also less crowded, and the beach is rather large so rather than feeling like sardines packed in with rows of lettini, you have room to breathe and even play a game of frisbee without tripping over your neighbors. The lovely San Felice Circeo mountain overlooks the beach (also worth a visit, but sadly, you really do need a car for that one).

Getting there: Take the train from Termini station to Priverno-Fossanova. From there, take the Cotral bus to the town of Sabaudia. From Sabaudia town, there is another bus that goes to the beach, but it’s also possible to walk (about 15 minutes). Total transportation cost (from Termini): €6.10 one way.

Sperlonga

I’ve saved the best for last – in my opinion. It’s also the farthest away, just past Sabaudia. It’s definitely worth it, though, so whenever I have a whole day free to spend at the beach, I go here.

The beach itself is probably prettier at Sabaudia (as it’s less “built up” with stabilimenti), but the water here is equally as clean and beautiful. What wins me over, though, is the town itself. The other beaches on this list have pretty unattractive towns (relatively new, Mussolini-era blocky cement towns), but Sperlonga looks like a little white-washed Greek village. The town’s main square and pedestrian street have a gorgeous view over the beach below. It’s possible to take the bus directly down to the beach, but I always choose to get off first at the town so I can walk through the tiny, labyrinthine streets and stairs to get down to the beach. I also head to the alimentari to get a fresh sandwich made (opt for mozzarella as one of the fillings – being pretty close to Naples, the mozzarella around here is amazing!). You can also get some fresh fruit, snacks, and water, and you’ll be set for the day.

Head down the stairs (follow all the people dressed for the beach, or ask somebody) to the beach below. If you want to go to the free beach, make a left and walk for about 10 minutes. Otherwise, you’ll have no trouble finding a nearby stabilimento.

Getting there: Take the train from Termini station to Fondi-Sperlonga. From right outside the train station, there is a bus that leaves regularly (it coincides with the train arrivals) for Sperlonga town and beach. Total transportation cost (from Termini): €7.90 one way.