Trastevere is a true paradise for a regular tourist with its cobble-laid streets and medieval houses. Yet, the medieval façade often fools the visitor as the poorly educated tour guides. Trans tiberim, across the Tiber, is one of the oldest parts of the city. During the Roman Republic, it actually was considered to be ‘the suburbs’ hosting lavish gardens and villas, and anything lavish in ancient Rome had to do with abundance of water.
A place of particular interest is Piazza in Piscinula, now known as a quite convenient parking lot amidst the calmness of this side of Trastevere. Medieval structures, the Case Mattei, flank the piazza tenderly, and the Church of San Benedetto in Piscinula lures any passerby in – by its endearing petiteness. The name Piscinula is reminiscent of Latin and Italian piscina, but not many know why the square gets its name. Piazza in Piscinula gets its name from the period of Roman antiquity when it was a place closely associated with water. Not only is it close to the Tiber and its Cloaca Maxima – the city’s ancient sewers – but there was also an excubitorium – a watchhouse – where Santa Maria della Luce stands now. The Imperial fire brigade’s HQ took over a II century Roman villa; and a Roman villa should never come without a bathhouse. Truly, this part of Rome is a deformed/grotesque palimpsest. Parking lots take over the medieval streets that take over their imperial counterparts.
Remember, in Rome everything is possible.