After our breakfast and coffee, we headed out for a walking tour of the Trastavere neighborhood. Just south of our hotel and across the Tiber river, Trastevere has numerous sites, but also seems more lived-in than the previous areas we visited. More children, clothes drying outside, flowered balconies, and people going about their lives.
We passed the Casa della Fornarina, where Raphael’s mistress supposedly lived. Nothing is known for sure about her, but over the centuries the story has become that her name was Margherita, the daughter of a baker, beautiful, and Raphael’s model and lover.
Next stop was the Villa Farnesina, built in 1508 by a wealthy banker. Every ceiling, and most walls in the villa contain frescos by some of Italy’s best: Peruzzi, Piombo, and Raphael (while he was cavorting with Margherita down the street). Story has it that most of Raphael’s work was done by his pupils, as he was preoccupied at the time…
We toured the church Santa Maria della Scala (1593-1610) on our way to Santa Maria in Trastevere. This may be the first official Christian place of worship in Rome, founded in the 3rd century. The current church dates from the 12th century and contains some beautiful mosaics. After a gelato, our final church was Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, dedicated to St. Cecilia, martyred here in 230 AD. After scalding her failed to kill her, she was beheaded. A beautiful statue of St. Cecilia is in front of the alter.
We crossed back over the Tiber into the Jewish Ghetto neighborhood. Jews first came to Rome in the 2nd century BC. Persecution began in the 16th century by Pope Paul IV, when they were forced to live in a small walled-in section of Rome and forced to attend Christian church on Sundays.
We soon encountered ancient ruins, which turned out to be the Porticus Octaviae (Octavia’s Portico) built by Augustus around 27 BC to be an entryway to the temples of Jupiter and Juno. Just around the corner is another of Augustus’ works, the Theater of Marcellus, built around 13 BC. This theater could hold 11,000 spectators. Today, apartments have been built on the upper level.
Even if you don’t see ruins in Rome, you can be assured that they are right under your feet. Just around the corner from our hotel was a restaurant where you can see ruins of Pompey’s Theater in the basement, where Julius Ceasar was killed.
That night we wanted to try seafood, so we went to a place suggested by the concierge. It was a nice place with a very friendly older waiter. He brought out our whole fish for approval before it was cleaned and cooked. We also enjoyed calamari, caprice salad, and fresh asparagus.