The area of Trastevere in Rome is one of those classic old Roman neighbourhoods, with narrow lanes and charming squares, filled with bars, restaurants and local colour. At the heart of the neighbourhood is the pedestrianised Piazza di Santa Maria and the lovely Chiesa Santa Maria which is well worth a visit. In the Piazza you can sit by the octagonal Roman fountain and eat an after-dinner gelato in the evening when the piazza comes alive with street entertainers, bars and restaurants.
Chiesa Santa Maria was one of the first churches in which masses were openly celebrated in Rome and there has been a church here since 340 AD although the present church was built on the site in the 1140s. You enter through the cool portico adorned with broken marble plaques from ancient Roman tombs, written in Latin and Greek.
Inside the church is adorned with beautiful mosaics and frescos and is full of colour. The columns that line the nave were plundered from the ancient Roman Baths of Caracalla. To the left of the altar is a 17th century chapel with the most beautiful painted frescos – look up and you’ll see the wonderful ceiling. The mosaic-tiled floors in the main church are in a distintive geometric style known as Cosmatesque after the craftsmen from Cosmati family who worked on them.
Despite all this magnificence, it still retains the feel of a neighbourhood church. If you have a particular prayer request, you can write it on the scraps of paper provided and leave it in the arms of St Anthony at one side of the church, or light a candle in the crimson side chapel.
What would your request be for St Anthony?
Photos by Heatheronhertravels