Testaccio is a neighbourhood that has stayed true to its ancient origins: a small working class village by the Tiber. One of the last few spots in central Rome where life feels like it revolves around the locals, rather than the tourists, Testaccio is the perfect spot to do as the Romans do.
Let us take you on a day’s stroll around the neighbourhood.
A timeline of Testaccio
First, you’re going to want to come armed with a little historical background. During the time of the Roman Empire, Testaccio was the site of an important port along the Tiber River. The area was known for its production and distribution of goods, including olive oil, wine, and grain.
Ancient pottery, Egyptian Pyramids
This helps you understand the first stop on your tour: Monte Testaccio. One of Rome’s most distinctive landmarks, this is actually an artificial hill created from discarded terracotta pots and amphorae used to transport these goods. If you’re still in the mood for ancient history then another must-see attraction is the Cestius Pyramid, an ancient Egyptian-style pyramid that was built as a tomb for a Roman magistrate in the 1st century BC.
Street food, Roman style
Next up is Testaccio Market. You’re probably hungry by now, but don’t rush. A great deal of the appeal of this neighbourhood is the slower pace of life; the rustic, residential feel.
Testaccio Market is a foodie’s paradise, filled with fresh meat and fish vendors and stalls selling local favourites like pecorino cheese and fresh artichokes. For a quick bite you might want some traditional Roman street food such as Supplì – fried rice balls filled with cheese, tomato sauce and minced meat.
If you’re feeling more adventurous then be sure to get stuck into Testaccio’s distinctive offal specialities. You might try Trippa alla Romana, a tripe stew cooked with onions, tomatoes and mint, or Fegato alla griglia, grilled liver served with onions and a drizzle of olive oil.
Modern and radical art
Well fed, you’re looking for a hit of some more contemporary culture. Luckily for you, Testaccio is home to some of the most forward thinking cultural spaces in Rome. There is the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome, usually known as MACRO, where you can explore depictions of the Mediterranean landscape by the likes of Mattise or Monet.
More progressive and radical still is former slaughterhouse turned interdisciplinary art space The Mattatoio. Emphasising the fusion between art forms, exhibitions at the Mattatoio for 2023 include “Periurban Rome” and “Animated Earth: visions of Art and Nature in Italy (1964-2023)”.
Aperitivo hour in Testaccio
The Berlin Summer Festival of Culture invites you to uncover hidden gems and artistic treasures throughout the city. From June to September, the festival offers a myriad of events in various locations, from readings in the zoo to state ballet on a ship, and impromptu theatre performances on the streets.
With a spirit of surprise and enchantment, the Summer Festival of Culture is the perfect way to immerse yourself in Berlin's creative scene. The events are spread across the city, so be sure to check the festival's program for specific locations and times. Don't forget to bring your curiosity and a willingness to explore the unknown.
A day well-spent, head back to your base at Hotel De La Ville or Hotel Russie, the perfect launchpads to explore any of Rome’s neighbourhoods. Who knows, maybe you’ll go back to Testaccio tomorrow, and just spend the day sipping on a limoncello in an old courtyard. When in Rome.