The alleys of Trastevere
Cose dell'altro Geo
First broadcast date
Documentary about the Roman neighborhood of the Trastevere.
Located on the right bank of the Tiber, opposite the historic center, the "rione" (district) was incorporated into the city during the Roman Empire and protected by walls under Hadrian in the third century AD.
It was home to many villas of the aristocracy but was primarily a district of fishers and immigrants. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Popes Sixtus IV and Paul V transformed the neighborhood. The Trastevere was an inspiration for the the Roman dialect poets Trilussa and Giuseppe Belli and the painter Bartolomeo Pinelli.
Local residents are very attached to the culture and identity of the neighborhood; they talk about developments in the Trastevere. Paintings and prints depicting the area through the ages.
RAI - RAI Tre
Urbanism and cities
Credits / Cast
- Cherubini Andrea - Author of original work
Trastevere district is one of the 20 districts cutting the historical center of Rome City (Municipio I). Designated in the administrative nomenclature by the code R.XIII, it is the only district located beyond the Tiber, just as its name, located next to the Janiculum Hill, shows. Its heritage reveals the different phases of Rome’s history.
Since the origins of the city, the river constitutes the border between Rome and Etruria that couldn’t be crossed except through the wooden bridge of Sublicius built in the seventh century BC. It was not until a century later, that urbanization was developed there to accommodate a population mainly Eastern, or Jews and Syrians dominated. Augustus annexed the district to Rome before including it inside the Aurelian Wall. It constituted a social mixing, since near the popular and cosmopolitan streets, great Roman families came in there in order to build villas. Trastevere is also the location of early Christianity in Rome. It encompasses the oldest churches in the city. The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere is thus one of the first recognized places of worship in the town: it was built in its original form by Pope Calixtus the First in the early third century before being rebuilt in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in the form that we know today, decorated, inside and outside, with beautiful mosaics. The churches of St. Grisogono (fourth century) and St. Cecilia (fifth century) have also been rebuilt thereafter and constituted an additional evidence of the antiquity of the Christianization in the district.
In the Middle Ages, Trastevere had an urban profile characterized by its tight interlacing streets and alleys; the habitat there is dense and irregular. Its Jewish population remains significant (until Pope Paul IV transferred them into the ghetto in 1555); it is composed of small traders and artisans. The elites still value the neighborhood: villas and gardens belong to the nobility or to the religious Orders implemented in there. Across from Sainte-Cecilia church in particular, we can see nowadays some of these medieval houses, with their massive and asymmetric gates and their heavy arcades and loggias.
In 1527, Trastevere was particularly affected by the sack of Rome led by troops pro - Charles V during the wars of Italy which, since the late fifteenth century, transformed the Peninsula into a battlefield between the European powers. If later, the construction of the Ponte Sisto in 1573 opens up a little more the district by linking it to Martius Campus, however, it remained marginalized from major urban reforms that characterized, during the seventeenth century, the Baroque period in Rome. Only Pope Paul V (1605-1621) contributed to its development through the construction of an aqueduct carrying water from Bracciano Lake in the Lazio region.
However, the insalubrity persisted. The district was even more impoverished and became dangerous. As Symbol of peripheral marginality, a hospice of fools has been installed there in 1729. However, Trastevere continued the stage of the Grand Tour for pilgrims and travelers belonging to the European aristocracy in the eighteenth century stage in Rome. These travelers greatly contributed in painting a type portrait of Trastevere population. The local residents recognize each other and maintain the image of a population derived directly from the ancient Romans. Regardless of whether the neighborhood is fed from successive migrations, it was preferable to nominate it the "More Roman", a label that was a controversial topic with the inhabitants of Monti district, taking sometimes a violent turn, by throwing stones on the Forum, until the modern period. These clashes empowered the image of Trastevere population, known by their proud and arrogance, prone to fight. It is noteworthy to remember that they were the only ones to revolt in 1798 against the occupation of Napoleon's troops. Among the series of stereotypes, devotion and laziness are also added to their characteristics.
Throughout its legendary history, Trastevere attracts nowadays tourists and Romans. The neighborhood with its notorious reputation during the nineteenth and the early twentieth century became one of the main restoration places and Roman nightlife. With a surface area of 1.8 km2 and comprising nearly 22,000 people in 2010, it has also become a popular residential area. The outbreak of the real estate market doesn’t encourage at all more social mixing that has yet forged the identity of the district.
Catherine Brice, History of Rome and the Romans of Napoleon the First Nowadays, Paris, Perrin, 2007.
Massimo Cataneo, La sponda sbagliata del Tevere. Mito e realtà di una identità populare tra Antico Regime e Rivoluzione, Napoli, Vivarium, 2004.
Laura Gigli, Guide rionali di Roma. Rione XIII. Trastervere, Roma, Palombi, 1981-1987.
Domenico Pertica, Storia dei rioni di Roma, Roma, NES, 1992.