The heart of Rome’s bohemian Trastevere neighborhood, Piazza Santa Maria fills by day with young families and tourists dining at sidewalk restaurants and sunbathing on the steps of the square’s central fountain. Come evening, students and revelers flock to the many trendy bars around the piazza, one of Rome’s favorite gathering spots.
The piazza’s western flank is dominated by the ornate Santa Maria in Trastevere church. The octagonal raised fountain in the center of the square, restyled by baroque master architect Carlo Fontana in 1692, is a popular neighborhood gathering spot. Lined with sidewalk restaurants and cafés, the square offers excellent people watching.
Piazza Santa Maria is closed to traffic, and many guided walking and cycling tours pass through this atmospheric square and neighborhood. Trastevere and the nearby Jewish Ghetto are famous for their excellent cuisine, so consider taking a street-food tour to discover the local specialties. Alternatively, tour by night to mix with young Romans out for an evening on the town.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The nightlife in Trastevere centers around nearby Piazza Trilussa but spills over into the more staid Piazza Santa Maria late into the night.
- The square is pedestrian only and generally filled with street musicians and artists, so a good stop if traveling with young children.
- Trastevere is considered one of the best neighborhoods in Rome for dining and wine tastings, and Piazza Santa Maria is home to excellent restaurants and wine bars.
- Wide and flat, the square is easy to navigate with a wheelchair or stroller.
How to Get There
Piazza Santa Maria is in Trastevere, along the east bank of the Tiber River, south of Vatican City. Cross the Ponte Sisto on foot, or take tram 8 from the center of Rome across the Ponte Garibaldi, just north of Tiber Island.
When to Get There
To savor the authentic neighborhood feel of Piazza Santa Maria, stroll through the square or stop for a meal during the day. If Trastevere’s famous nightlife interests you, make an evening out of it and visit after dinner.
Santa Maria in Trastevere
Founded around AD 350, the Romanesque Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches in Rome. The facade has a 16th-century portico designed by Carlo Fontana, and both the interior and exterior of the church are covered with golden 12th- and 13th-century mosaics.