Turning your back on the typical ‘post card’ images of Europe is one hell of an adventure. Say goodbye to tourist destinations and hello to a quiet city street where the locals speak little English and your adventure relies on a few, random street signs.
When one thinks of Rome, classic romantic scenes of the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Trevi and outdoor restaurants pop into mind. Images licked with summer sunsets and a wine in hand usually sum up the Italian adventure. But there’s more to offer to Rome than the mind initially imagines.
It was my first time experiencing the madness of Italy, let alone Europe, and I had already conquered the staple sights like the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps (all flocked with daggy tourists and rude travellers alike with selfie sticks). Of course these were all incredible to experience firsthand, but a little part of my heart wondered what it would be like to visit these places a few decades ago when the crowds weren’t so heavy and caught up in taking the perfect Instagram shot.
Just under an hour’s walk from the city centre is an absolute treasure that boasts quiet streets with an epic view. The little town of Trastevere is a gorgeous and historic place of sleepy shops and small restaurants with no tourist traps. It’s a beautiful reminder of how Italy should be when you take away the tourist gimmicks and hundreds of people.
The town was a short 30-minute walk from Vatican City alongside a canal. Once hitting the town square, we were quickly immersed within the narrow cobblestone alleyways; each made individual by lines of washing, or vines or colourful pops of glossy Vespas, which was a refreshing change to the chock-a-block streets of Rome.
One of the absolute highlights of my five week holiday was finding a true hidden gem at the top of Trastevere. A 20 minute walk up a steep street and some stairs led us to what was one of the most beautiful (and relaxing) places I have been to in Italy.
A stunning 17th century fountain is hidden against a city wall, with pristine aqua waters flowing carelessly off the beautiful architecture and into an open pool, allowing those who find it to sit down, dip their feet in the fountain and cool off. This was so much more elegant and enjoyable than the Trevi Fountain (in my own opinion). There’s no crowds, no shams and for once there’s peace and space to take in the beautiful sight before you.
Opposite the fountain is an incredible view over the rooftops of Trastevere through to Rome, the kind of lookout you’d see in a movie scene where the protagonist hops off their motorcycle to contemplate all of life’s decisions above the city lights. The stunning view and 360 degree experience of ‘wow’ is truly breathtaking, and it’s easy to lose yourself and your time becoming immersed in the culture and scenery of the gorgeous little town.
It’s moments like these when you find hidden treasures that make you appreciate the beauty of travel and the excitement of finding somewhere scret – off the beaten track – and a place that you can call your own for a brief moment in time.
Maybe it’s even a bonus that some of these spaces are hidden, because it’s the kind of place you’ll hold dear to your heart and tell fond stories of because of the very reason of its rareness. A hidden treasure that is totally and definitely worth the wait and adventure, Trastevere certainly ticks the box.