Trastevere - My Neighbourhood in Sketches
Hello! This is where I live in Rome.
My house is just around the corner from here, on Vicolo della Torre, the ‘alleyway of the tower’.
Trastevere is like this. Narrow, winding streets, paved with cobbles, windows with shutters up above, hanging vines, hanging laundry… Super Medieval.
Now, let’s climb up five storeys to reach our apartment. And step out on the terrace.
I’m an architect, so here’s a cross-section of the terrace. (How else could I explain it?)
There’s a lower bit with flowers in planters, and a lot of snails. Then there’s a ladder, and you can climb up and edge carefully around the skylight, because if you fell through, you would drop into the stairwell and die. Finally you reach the top ledge, and you can sit there close to all the seagulls, and the forest of quirky TV antennae.
This is what you actually see. It’s a lovely view. Clay-tile roofs, buildings curving around to follow the invisible Tiber River, the ridge of the Janiculum Hill on the left, and in the far distance, the dome of St. Peters.
Now let’s go for a walk.
This is my school!
The University of Waterloo School of Architecture Rome Campus… only the third floor, really. We share space with Pratt Institute.
It’s a fantastic location, right on Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere. A very active square, with musicians playing constantly. Its only fault is that it feels a bit Disney-ish at times, with tourists and souvenir-sellers and street performers outnumbering actual Italians… And many of the street performers have a repertoire of approximately four songs, beginning with “Time to Say Goodbye” and ending with “O Sole Mio”.
Really, though, I have no right to complain. And in the time-scale of this city, I’d still be a newbie tourist even if I lived here for a whole year. Or ten years.
If we climb the Janiculum ridge, we’ll find this - Bramante’s ‘Tempietto’, meaning ‘little temple’. The first true Renaissance building. It’s very cute.
Now, this sketch may seem confusing. It may look upside down. And yes, when I started drawing it, I had it facing the other way, because I started with the Baroque fountain, and the pool in front of it. But when I’d done that, I had to turn around and draw the view in the other direction, because it was stunning.
This is just a few hundred metres from the Tempietto. The fountain was built to celebrate the end-point of a new aqueduct entering the city.
The road sweeps around it in a great globular curve, and in every direction you can see the city spreading out. Domes, towers, hills in the distance. As it gets dark, lights on the Alban Hills flicker like torches, or like lava flowing down a volcano.
This is my neighbourhood.