The History of Trastevere
in brief from its origins to the present day
What we are about to write may seem like an obvious and banal statement, but it is not quite so: every place in the world has its own history and it is important to know it in order to better understand what we find in that place. This applies to art, architecture, people’s mentality and much more.
The history of a place we are about to visit can be a good one, an ugly one or simply a story full of events and facets like a large and shining diamond.
Each place has a history and this also applies to the Trastevere district of Rome.
In this article, albeit very briefly, we will tell you about the history of the Trastevere district of Rome from its origins to the present day.
Are you curious to discover it? Then read the following lines!
The history of Trastevere from its origins and in the Roman Empire
Trastevere hasn’t always been a part of Rome.
According to historical sources, in fact, the area in which Trastevere now stands was in the hands of the Etruscans and was at the same time contested between the young Rome and the Etruscans themselves as it was a strategic area that allowed to control the Tiber.
In this contest, history smiled on the city of Rome, and the Trastevere district was finally annexed to this young and growing city.
In the beginning, this was the district of those who worked in activities related to the Tiber River and immigrants, but over the years the Trastevere district increased its importance and under the Emperor Augustus the Trastevere area, although suburban, became one of the 14 regions into which the city of Rome was divided and, subsequently, it was included in the city thanks to the Aurelian walls.
But the luck of the Trastevere district did not stop there.
In fact, during the imperial period, the Trastevere district increased its importance thanks to the fact that many VIPs of the time began to build their villas in this area.
Among the various VIPs we can include Julius Caesar who built his villa here, called “Orti di Cesare”.
The Trastevere district in the Middle Ages
The news on the Trastevere district that we receive from the sources is decidedly scarce but it suggests that the district had a partial decay that could be seen from the narrow and irregular streets that did not allow the normal transit of wagons or from the contrast between the homes of the rich and the poor.
Something began to change with Pope Sixtus IV who paved the streets of Trastevere and made other improvements, but apart from this and the fact that Pope Sixtus V included Trastevere among the districts of Rome despite its characteristic of being isolated, there are no many other noteworthy news of this area in the medieval period.
The Trastevere district from 1700 to the present day
Even the news concerning Trastevere from 1700 to the present day are not very many and this suggests that it followed the same fate of the city of Rome without particular implications that have made this magnificent district of Rome stand out above the others.
There are, however, some fundamental points to underline and which we report schematically in the following lines:
- 1744: Pope Benedict XIV, during the revision of the districts of Rome, gives Trastevere what are still its borders today;
- 1870: In order to prevent the flooding of the Tiber from causing problems in the Trastevere district, the walls were built. These, while defending the district from the waters, destroyed all the characteristic places of Trastevere that stood on the bank of the Tiber;
- 1877: Romeo Ottaviani was born. He became the “bully of bullies” of the city of Rome. A controversial character (a bit braggart, a bit hero) who died very young from a violent death.
- 1920: Alberto Sordi, one of the greatest Italian actors of all time, is born in Trastevere.
Here is the history of the Trastevere district, albeit written in a very short and concise way.
Now that you know the history of this beautiful Roman district, we are sure that you will appreciate it much more and you will learn and understand better the monuments and places you will find in it.