Rome: Three reasons to love Testaccio

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The Macro Testaccio displays modern art from hot, new artists. Photo: Dalbera
The Macro Testaccio displays modern art from hot, new artists. Photo: Dalbera

A short stroll from Piramide (Metro Line B), Testaccio is one of the most vibrant, yet under-rated neighborhoods in Rome.  A hub of pubs, late-night clubs, markets and cute specialty shops, there is plenty to see and do in this historical part of the city.

While tourists flock to Trastevere and squish into bars around the historical center, Testaccio, which was once famous for its butcher shops, maintains a low-key, friendly buzz that keeps things interesting, but not overwhelming. It could be called the “Notting Hill of Rome.” (Hugh Grant would not be out of place strolling through the wide, leafy streets or shopping for veggies in the weekend produce market!)

Below are just three reasons why it’s worth jumping on the Rome Metro and taking the short trip to one of my favorite parts of Rome.

Shop with the locals at the Testaccio Food Market. Photo: Context Travel

1. Real pubs

While there are lots of pubs in the historical center of Rome, they tend to be of the cookie cutter, “Irish pub” variety. Testaccio breaks this trend, with a selection of atmospheric pubs and locales in an authentic Italian environment (and absolutely no four leaf clovers or Guinness on tap!).

One of my favorites, Enoteca L’Oasi della Birra, boasts 500 different beers from across the globe (including Brazil, Mexico and Israel), as well as good old fashioned Belgium and German brews. They also have an extensive wine menu. L’Oasi della Birra (literally, “beer oasis”) also does an excellent aperitivo buffet – for around €10 you can drink a beer, heap a plate with cold meats, pizzas, cheeses, pastries, and watch the world go by from the outdoor seating area. Heaven!

On The Rox is another popular spot with Romans. Spread across two floors, and with a generous outdoor area, four types of beer are available on tap, as well as bottled brews, cocktail and spirits. Scruffy chandeliers, funky art on the walls, free Wi-Fi and beer pong make it extremely popular with young Romans keen for a pint (or two!) before heading out to the numerous clubs in the area. It’s open late – which also makes it a great place to finish an evening in the Eternal City.

L’Oasi della Birra, Piazza Testaccio, 38/41, Open from 4:30 p.m. Closed Sunday.
On the Rox, Via Galvani, 54, Open 6:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. Closed Sunday

2. MACRO – Museum of Modern Art

Visiting Rome and need a break from frescos? Visit MACRO Testaccio and experience the future of the Italian art scene. Not your ordinary art gallery, MACRO Testaccio (Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma) is the hip little sister of MACRO Roma (the main Museum of Modern Art in Rome).

Located in the heart of Testaccio, Macro displays art from the hottest young artists in Italy and Europe.  The current exhibition, “Re-Generation,” is open from now until September 9, 2012, and features contemporary installations and works from some of the most talented young European artists today (including my good friend Luana Perilli!).

MACRO Testaccio, Via Nizza 138 – 00198 Roma. Open from  4:00 p.m. – 12:00 am.

3. Food Market

Essential to any trip to Testaccio is a visit to the central Piazza Testaccio food market.  Since opening its doors nearly 100 years ago, the Testaccio food market has become one of the best markets in Rome – and it’s easy to see why. A quick stroll through the undercover market reveals stalls overflowing with meats, cheeses, fruit, vegetables, seafood as well as clothes and other knick-knacks.  The best part is that its not touristy; this is a living, breathing market where Romans go to pick up fresh produce for authentic Roman dishes.

Roma Farmer’s Market, ex mattatoio-Testaccio padiglione 9. Open Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Also in our guide: If you’re planning a trip to Rome and looking for an affordable hotel, be sure to check out our Rome guide for our editors’ hotel recommendations. We’ve visited and inspected budget hotels all over Rome. Trust us, we’ve been there!

About the author

Sarah Tighe is a Rome-based writer getting fat on pasta and loving it. When she’s not eating somewhere in the Eternal City, she’s busy studying a masters of journalism (but thinking about food).

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