How To Make An Italian Neighborhood Your Own

Vicolo del Cedro @PennySadler 2013

Typical street in Trastevere

I first discovered Trastevere in 2009. I rented a room in an old apartment building without air- conditioning. It was here that I learned to do as the Romans do – luxuriate in long lunches, take a nap in the heat of the day, and generally enjoy life more. In Trastevere, I learned about “la dolce far niente,” the sweetness of doing nothing.

I’ve returned to Trastevere many times since that first stay. I fell in love with the narrow, winding cobblestone streets, the warm terra cotta colors of the buildings, the friendly people, and the fact that it’s a real neighborhood where I can find everything I need within a few blocks.

San Cosimato, Trastevere @PennySadler 2013

Market at Piazza San Cosimato

@PennySadler 2013 Piazza San Cosimato, Trastevere

Piazza San Cosimato

I always return to the same internet cafe (I don’t travel with a computer in Europe), organic and
gluten-free market, and shop at the open air produce market in Piazza San Cosimato. In this way I get a tiny taste of what life would be like if lived in this neighborhood in Rome. Ocourse if I was living there,  I doubt I’d spend my days walking around with my camera and following those medieval winding streets wherever I fancy, but, non si sa mai, you never know.

I got to know the guy who made my cappuccino in the morning and my spritz in the afternoon, and other people in the neighborhood who recognize me to this day.

cafe in Trastevere @PennySadler 2013

Taking an espresso Italian style

@PennySadler 2013 Ponte Sisto Bridge

View of Piazza Trilusa

Trastevere means trans Tiber or across the river. It has always been home to craftsmen, artists, and immigrants. In fact, many of the people I meet who have lived there for decades are expats, and tell me they can’t imagine living anywhere else in Rome.

Today there are, of course, lots of tourists. Trastevere is well known for great restaurants, pubs, and nightlife, and believe me, at night it is packed. The older part of the area around Via della Scala and Piazza Trilusa, can be quite mad with people.

But during the day the streets are relatively quiet, and locals go about their business and their work. It’s not uncommon to find an open doorway to a craftsman shop and they don’t seem to mind if you take a peek inside.

Mohsan Kosarasafir's shop in Trastevere, @PennySadler 2013

Instrument makers shop Vicolo del Cedro

Here are some ideas for things to see and do in Trastevere, whether you stay a day, a week, or longer.

There are several important churches in Trastevere: Santa Cecilia, Santa Maria and San Francesco a Ripa.

@PennySadler 2013

Basilica Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome

Piazza and Basilica Santa Maria in Trastevere is the first church in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary and probably the oldest church in Rome. You will recognize it by the distinctive Romaneque bell tower – and beautiful mosaics on the front glimmering in the sun.  The piazza is a central meeting point in Trastevere, and a great people watching spot. Watch out for drunks and beggars in the evening. Generally harmless, but can be annoying.

Santa Cecila is an 18th century remodel of a medieval church. It is named for St. Cecilia (the patron saint of music), who was martyred here in the 3rd century. Inside you will find the tomb of Santa Cecilia sculpted by Stefano Maderno, and some fragments of Pietro Cavallini’s fresco, The Last Judgement. I haven’t seen this one yet, but it’s on my list.

San Francesco a Ripa: this rather nondescript church houses Bernini’s famous sculpture Beata Ludovia Albertoni. Just go see it.

San Francesco a Ripa, Trastevere @PennySadler 2013

Piazza San Francesco a Ripa

The Museo di Roma in Trastevere. In May, this museum hosts an exhibition of World Press photographs. Other photographs and art in the permanent collection focus on depicting life in Rome from the 1950’s to the present. If you love photography, this is the place for you. I went to an exhibit last year that permanently affected the way I take photographs today.

The Gianicolo or Janiculum Hill is above Trastevere – a bit of a climb, but well worth the effort. Here you have the best views of the city and in my opinion one of the most romantic spots in Rome. Take a date if you can.

Farmacia Santa Maria della Scala – a true 17th century pharmacy now a museum and operated by monks. It’s never been open when I’m there, but I keep trying.

Eat gelato! My favorite place in Trastevere is Bar Checco. Located at Via Benedetta 7.

Relax! at a typical Roman cafe while enjoying an espresso or a drink and watch the world go by.
I’ve got several good choices and there are many more.

@PennySadler 2013

Cafe Maurizio in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere great views of the Piazza and the mosaics on the front of the Basilica.

Cafe San Calisto: Piazza San Calisto, basically adjacent to Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere.
Traditional Roman style bar and cafe.

Ombre Rose: Piazza Sant Egidio across from the Museo di Roma. A pretty spot with trees and a funky artsy vibe. Always lots of people sitting outside here.

&#64'PennySadler 2013

Bubble maker, Santa Maria di

@PennySadler 2013 Da Lucia Rome, Italy

Da Lucia

Eat! There are loads of good restaurants in Trastevere and I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a bad meal here. A few ideas are:

Ivo’s for pizza. The place is always packed. Call ahead. Via San Francesco a Ripa.

Da Lucia. A traditional Roman restaurant also always packed. After my fifth trip I finally got in there one night without a reservation. Cacio e pepe is a must. I also had a delicious cheese omelet. Weird I know, but it tasted great with the pasta and wine. Vicolo del Mattonato.

Isola Sicilia. I’ve been here numerous times and always like it. Nice size portions of food, very fresh. If you like seafood this place is very reliable. A wee bit pricey but delicious.
Via Garibaldi.

Isole di Sicilia @PennySadler 2013

Isole di Sicilia

Walk! Trastevere is a great place for walking, as auto traffic is restricted in most areas. There are charming little local artisinal shops, and one of kind things you’ll find no where else. I love walking in Trastevere (even though a few times I thought my feet were permanently broken by the cobblestones). It has a feeling of a small village where people know their neighbors and everyone says hello. It feels like home to me.

@PennySadler 2013 Trastevere

“La dolce far niente”

Love Rome? Not sure? Read Roman Holiday.

All materials ©Penny Sadler 2012 – 2013


How An Ancestral Home Became One of England’s Top Tourist Attractions

Beaulieu, England the main house Phillip Glickman photography

Phillip Glickman Photography

The Dallas International Film Festival opened last weekend. As I’ve done for the past two years, I signed on to be a driver, shuttling film makers and other festival staff and film buffs between theaters. Needless to say, as someone in “The Biz,” I love movies – and being part of the festival is lots of fun. You meet new people, make contacts, see great movies that you wouldn’t see otherwise, and go to plenty of parties.

I’ve mentioned in a few other posts that my paying job is freelance makeup artist for film and television production. Once in a while the two come together (the blog and my job that is), as they did for me last weekend when I discovered Beaulieu, England, and Lord Montagu.

I was driving for the Film Festival last Friday night and this lovely couple hopped into the car for me to drive them back to their hotel. I started up a conversation with them and asked if they had a film showing in the festival. They did – it was Luke Korem, one of the writers and director of the film, Lord Montagu, and his wife.

Here’s what I knew about the film from the DIFF website:

As the youngest member in parliament and sole heir to his family’s 7,000-acre English estate, Lord Edward Montague’s life was rich and privileged. However in 1954, Edward, then aged twenty-five, became England’s most infamous aristocrat when he was arrested for homosexual offenses and eventually sentenced to a year in prison. Despite the odds against him, Montagu persevered to become a prominent national figure by turning his estate into one of England’s greatest tourist attractions, and leading the way into a new era of the British aristocracy.

This film has it all, money, power, British nobility, and a historically significant home.
I liked this film even more than I expected to. The town of Beaulieu and Palace House, Lord Montagu’s family home, surrounded by beautiful forested lands and fronting a river, are stunning.

Beaulieu England Phillip Glickman Photography

Phillip Glickman Photography

Woven into the story of the Beaulieu and Palace House is the history of England at the time Lord Montagu was arrested, shortly after the end of WWII. Though he was never found guilty and the evidence against him was sketchy at best, it was a moment in history that was ripe for the particular scandal created around him.

Lord Montagu was one of many noble landowners in England, fighting to save his family’s ancestral properties. He was also one of the first to open his home to the public as a museum. His arrest on charges of homosexuality however, had its effect on the number of tourists coming to Palace House. That, along with competition from other noble homes opening to the public, found Lord Montagu again struggling to save Beaulieu. As is often the case, the answer was right in front of him all along.

The Abbey at Beaulieu, England

Phillip Glickman Photography

The Gardens, Palace House Phillip Glickman Photography

Phillip Glickman Photography

Lord Montagu’s father had been one of the first to embrace the motor car and with his small collection, Lord Montagu established Montagu Motor Museum (now the National Motor Museum) – thus securing the financial stability of Beaulieu.

Beaulieu is now a well-known tourist attraction that truly offers something for everyone: cars, history, culture, architecture, picnic areas, and rides for the kids.

A final note about the film makers, all of whom I met in Dallas: Luke Korem, writer/director; Bradley Jackson, screenwriter; and Russell Groves, producer, are genuinely talented and nice guys. They did a brilliant job of bringing Lord Montagu’s story to the screen with dignity and respect for him and his family. They also graciously supplied me with the photographs for the story.

The movie is currently playing at festivals across the US. Check the Facebook page for updates and locations.

Top attractions and information on Beaulieu:

Palace House and the National Motor Museum are a top tourist attraction in the South of England.

The Bond Museum, an adjunct to the National Motor Museum, is home to the largest collection of official Bond movie vehicles in the world.

The name Beaulieu means beautiful place.

Beaulieu Abbey was founded by Cistercian monks in 1204.

Palace House was formerly the Great Gatehouse of Beaulieu Abbey, and has been the ancestral home of Lord Montagu’s family since 1538

Beaulieu is one of the ten most magnificent stately homes in Britain and is part of a group of homes called Treasure Houses of England. Each one contains some of the most important art collections in the world. They are architectural masterpieces surrounded by beautiful gardens.

Learn more about Beaulieu

A great post about the area and a suggested itinerary if you are near Beaulieu with lots of information on the National Motor Museum:

Phillip Glickman Photography aerial view of Beaulieu

Phillip Glickman Photography