8 Best Things to Do in Testaccio, Rome

Testaccio, Rome, Italy

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

If you have tried other tourist-clogged neighborhoods in the Italian capital of Rome and are ready for something different, visit Testaccio, referred to by locals as the “heart of Rome.” This neighborhood is anchored by the old stockyards and a hill made of amphorae (ancient Roman pots) from ships on the nearby Tiber River, broken into fragments and discarded.

The hill at Monte Testaccio has been transformed into a place where you'll find lavish nightclubs and wine bars; it's where Rome's beautiful people go to enjoy their dolce vita (sweet life).

Foodies like Testaccio because of the traditions attributed to early stockyard workers, such as innards cooked into a stew. The neighborhood is a fun place to explore not only history but many more attractions including pizzerias, a lively covered market, and shops with international organic foods.

01 of 08

Marvel at the Pyramid of Cestius

Pyramid in cemetery with trees around
irisphoto2 / Getty Images
Via Raffaele Persichetti, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
Phone +39 06 3996 7700

Estimated to have been built between 18 and 12 B.C.E., after Rome's conquest of Egypt, the 120-feet-high Pyramid of Cestius once served as the tomb of a wealthy Roman. Over the centuries, it's been ransacked, and some of its surrounding monuments have been relocated to museums. Still, it's a reminder of the phenomenon known as "Egyptomania."

The pyramid, much pointier than the ones you'd find in Egypt, sits in a peaceful cemetery right in the middle of the city.

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02 of 08

Tour Testaccio's Street Art

Side view of street art on a building

exumo / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

Rione XX Testaccio, 00153 Roma RM, Italy

Testaccio is sort of like an open-air museum os street art. The likes of Blu, Sten Lex, Axel Void, Roa, Tellas, and Iacurci have left their mark on this neighborhood, and you can see the fruits of their labor on buildings big and small, old and new.

One of the best ways to see street art in Testaccio (and Rome, in general) is by motorbike. You can use the nifty STREETART ROME app to help you locate some of the classics, including Iena Cruz's "Hunting Pollution" and Roa's "Jumping Wolf."

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03 of 08

Visit Monte Testaccio and the Nightclubs

View of the hill of Monte Testaccio

Tyler Bell / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Monte Testaccio, 00153 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy

The hill known as Monte Testaccio reaches 150 feet high and spans about 220,000 square feet. It's said to have approximately 53 million broken shards of terracotta pots. These amphorae were used to transport olive oil, honey, wine, and other goods.

Also known as Monte dei Cocci ("Mount of Shards"), the hill is located next to the location of the ancient Tiber River port, and the warehouses, which would have been used to store imported goods like olive oil shipped in those jars.

Over the years, interesting facades and murals have been added to sections of the Monte Testaccio neighborhood to transform it into a center for clubs and restaurants housing some of the Capital’s best eateries.

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04 of 08

Shop the Market

Woman serving alcohol at Mercato di Testaccio

Mercato di Testaccio

Via Marmorata, 47, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
Phone +39 375 513 0898

Volpetti Salumeria is the place where you can buy everything from pizza and sandwiches to some of Italy's best cheese and meats. It's an amazing and crowded place. Buying provisions for a picnic in a park is the way to go if you're trying to save money—but you won't find anything dirt cheap.

The Mercato Testaccio covered market is another place to find fresh vegetables, meat, and cheese. It's not a tourist market, but it offers a selection of edibles that will impress you if you're used to the limited selection of things in an American market. Around the periphery of the market, you'll see stands selling clothes, shoes, and household items.

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05 of 08

Visit the Mattatoio di Testaccio

Exterior of Mattatoio Roma

Mattatoio Roma 

Piazza Orazio Giustiniani, 4, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
Phone +39 06 3996 7500

The stockyards representing the southern boundary of Testaccio, wedged between the Tiber and Monte Testaccio, have given way to the impressive building and courtyard Mattatoio di Testaccio. Now, this popular contemporary art exhibition space is the cornerstone of the arts center now occupying the old stockyard buildings.

Built between 1888 and 1891, the structure is considered one of the most significant original examples of industrial archaeology in the city. They haven't really dismantled all the old slaughterhouse mechanisms used to move hanging carcasses through the building for processing so you can get a pretty good idea of what went on there in the early stockyard days.

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06 of 08

Learn More About Roman Foods

Exterior of Città dell'Altra Economia - CAE

Città dell'Altra Economia - CAE 

Largo Dino Frisullo, snc, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
Phone +39 06 575 8272

La Città dell'Altra Economia, found in Largo Dino Frisullo, is a very interesting 3,500 square meter farmer's market complex devoted to fair-trade products and organic foods, The complex hosts exhibitions, the SpazioBioRoma organic shop, a restaurant with vegetarian options, education facilities, and a renewable energy center. Lots of festivals use the area in front of the complex, which was the cattle field, or Campo Boario, when the stockyards were in use.

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07 of 08

Visit the Jewish Neighborhood

Jewish Ghetto in Rome

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Via Catalana, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Phone +39 06 6840 0661

As you head back toward central Rome on foot following the pleasant Lungotevere (path running along the Tiber), you can enter what is known as the Ghetto near the Portico d'Ottavia, just across from the Isola Tiburtina, a small uninhabited island. Roman Jews were locked into this corner of Rome at night for more than 300 years starting in 1555. The area is now a thriving neighborhood full of kosher bakeries, restaurants serving Jewish-Roman food, and shops. Here, foodies will find a whole different type of Roman cuisine.

Don't miss the Museo Ebraico di Roma (The Jewish Museum of Rome), closed on Saturdays and during Jewish holidays. The museum is located in the basement of the Jewish Synagogue located on the Lungotevere de' Cenci.

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08 of 08

Savor Roman Ghetto Food Specialties

La Taverna Del Ghetto kosher restaurant in the Jewish Ghetto in Rome, Italy

David Silverman / Getty Images

The food here is quite different than in Testaccio but is just a 15-minute walk away. You'll find many places to choose from and cultural variety in the cuisine, which ranges from pizza and pasta to sushi to Mexican or Israeli food, as well as desserts. The highly recommended dish in the Ghetto section of Rome is Carciofi alla Giudia (famous fried artichokes).

BellaCarne Kosher Grill is a restaurant in the heart of the Roman Ghetto, serving traditional Italian-Jewish cuisine.

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8 Best Things to Do in Testaccio, Rome