Read part 1 here: A Spontaneous Trip to Rome Part 1
Our first morning in Rome had been incredibly fascinating. We had ticked off three of the Capital’s major landmarks; however, it had been very full-on. For this reason, we planned to have a more relaxed afternoon exploring the colourful bohemian cobbled streets of Trastevere. Historically Trastevere is a working-class neighbourhood just across the River Tiber (which was substantially more pleasant in colour than the Thames).
When visiting different countries, one of the greatest ways to immerse yourself in their culture is to eat like a local. In the short time we had, we managed to do this twice whilst on our brief trip (if you discount the typical pizza). I had read about a popular treat you could find whilst meandering along the riverbank in Trastevere that was perfect for a hot summer’s day (which it definitely was at 34 degrees). Grattachecca is simply crushed ice topped with fruit and syrup which can come in a multitude of flavours. Just as we had crossed the river via Isola Tiberina, a tiny picturesque populated island in the centre of the Tiber, we came across a bustling street stall with a queue of Romans waiting for their icy treat (surely I’m not the only person who imagines them in full armour when that term is used?). Ed and I both went for the cherry flavour, which seemed like the most common choice. It certainly was sweet, maybe a little too sweet but it definitely helped to cool us down as we strolled along the river.
Trastevere was crammed with narrow ochre streets brimming with trendy bars and artisan bakeries, often interrupted by glade like piazzas in a labyrinth of streets. To the North West of Trastevere, you’ll find Gianicolo Hill, Rome’s highest. We managed to make it to the top just as the sun was setting and we were greeted by panoramic views over the red rooftops of Rome. We began to make our way back down into the maze of Trastevere when by complete chance, we came across Fontana dell Acqua Paola, a beautiful fountain constructed in 1612 not far from the crest of the hill. It doesn’t quite match the beauty of the Trevi fountain, but it’s in a considerably more beautiful location with views overlooking the City. We continued our descent as we had a reservation in one of Rome’s many Gluten Free eateries. Our table for the night was at Mama Eat, located somewhere in the mass of cobbled streets below. By the time we were back down into the heart of Trastevere, it was night – the town had come alive. The bars had taken over the streets (with cars still awkwardly trying to manoeuvre their way through without knocking street-side diners off their chairs) and bands were playing to dancing crowds on the piazzas. I’ll be honest, at some point we must have drifted off course, but it was the most exciting place I’ve ever been lost in my life. After a little while of wandering the vibrant streets, our best friend, Google Maps, helped us find our table. One thing you have to get used to quickly in Rome is that the picturesque cobbled streets would make an excellent foundation for a see-saw, but as your wine rocks up and down, it becomes apparent that cobbles aren’t perfect for tables. I guess it just adds an element of excitement to your meal.
Throughout the day, it had become apparent that Rome has a serious problem with graffiti. Now, I’m not talking about Banksy murals portraying powerful political messages or stunning artwork adding splashes of colour to neglected neighbourhoods, here I’m talking about mindless vandalism. No matter where you were, the City was coated in it. There was a general feeling that cosmetic maintenance just wasn’t a thing. The buildings were built once, the end. It degraded al fresco dining when it could easily be fixed with a pot of paint. However, it could easily be forgotten due to the tons of character the Roman streets possessed.