Monte Testaccio hill and neighboring Testaccio district got its name from Monte Testaccio – the biggest artificial mounds of Ancient Rome. It is definitely for those tourists who want to see another Rome. This picturesque area, of which many of you have not heard of, is located in 2km walking distance form Colosseum. Here you can see the true Roman life, visit the only Egyptian pyramid in Rome and stop by the most beautiful Protestant cemetery in the world. Little did you know, that the typical Roman dish – trippa alla romana (tripe) was invented in Testaccio.
Moreover, the first ever football much of beloved Roman team ROMA also took place here
During the Ancient times Testaccio neighborhood hosted a river port called Emporium through which the city of Rome was supplied by goods coming from Ostia – sea and trade gates of Rome. The most popular good was olive oil, which was shipped in amphorae, ancient Roman pottery. Within a certain period of time these amphorae were saturated with oil and exuded an unpleasant smell. Such amphorae were not suited to be reused and therefore were collected together outside of the city. Piled together shards of amphorae were sprinkled with lime in order to neutralize the smell of rancid oil. Thus, the remnants eventually created an artificial hill that was called Monte Testaccio.
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Centuries later, the hill was overgrown with grass and bushes and people have eventually forgotten that it used to be the largest amphorae city dumpster. During the Middle Ages, some even claimed, that the hill was comprised of remains of city buildings diminished by the Great Fire of Rome.
Today, Monte Testaccio is a great source of information on trade relations of Roman Empire and its economic power. Moreover, Monte Testaccio is another prove of Rome’s historical richness, as even the city dumpster has its own history.
Following is the list of must visit places and the instruction on how to get to Monte Testaccio.
Pyramid of Cestius (Piramide di Caio Cestio/ Piramide Cestia): there are 8 Egyptian obelisks in Rome (together with 5 Roman replicas) and their appearance does not surprise tourists. During the Ancient times, obelisks were mainly placed hippodromes, and only later during the rule of Pope Sixtus V obelisks were placed on the church squares in order to show the way for pilgrims. However, the Pyramid of Cestius is only one of its kind.
The pyramid was built in around 12-18 BC. It was constructed as a tomb of Gaius Cestius – magistrate and member of one of the four great religious corporations in Rome. It is believed that he commissioned construction of the tomb after Egypt became part of the Roman Empire and Egyptian architecture was at its peak.
The best look to the Pyramid of Cestius opens up from the green zone with benches (from the entrance of Protestant cemetery). Inside of the tomb is embellished with 16-century frescoes
The Protestant cemetery (Cimitero Acattolico) is located in Testaccio district, next to Aurelian wall and Pyramid of Cestius. You will be quite surprised to hear that despite its purpose; this cemetery is considered to be quite a charming place. With graceful sculptures and gravestones and well-groomed lawns, the Protestant cemetery is not a typical tourists spot. The most famous people buried there are English poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelly, American poet Gregory Corso, Goethe’s sun Augustus.
If you want to have a shopping experience in truly local Roman market, then you have to visit Testaccio market (Mercato Testaccio). You will find numerous stands selling fresh vegetables, fruits, meat and fish. What is more, you can also find clothes, bags and leather goods of local production. Testaccio market has its own food court right inside it. There, you can sit comfortably and have a lunch break. The menu offers range from Roman style pizza and pastas, to typical street food – suppli (fried rice balls usually stuffed with mozarella) and panini (sandwiches). You can also find a wide range of home-made wine and prosecco, which can be brought back home as a souvenir.
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Author: Kate Zusmann
For the last 9 years, I live in the Eternal City. Traveling, exploring new things, writing blogs, and shooting vlogs are my main hobbies, but the thing that I like even more is sharing my experience and thoughts with you! Explore Rome with Us :)
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