Arco of the Tolomei
As you wander through the district of Trastevere, you may run into a low, dark archway
providing access to a very small public square surrounded by tall buildings, much more like a courtyard
The picturesque scenario brings you back to the days of Grand Tour, when the Popes ruled Rome.
Rome can bestow on you the most picturesque gifts and any sort of unexpected surprises. If you roam the narrow streets in the eastern portion of Trastevere, where the building are old and the visitor gets glimpses here and there of both Early Christian basilicas and almost forgotten Roman ruins, you may stumble upon the Arco of the Tolomei: a dark hallway piercing through a medieval wall, once part of the ancient tower of the noble family of Tolomei.
By going through the gloomy hole, you enter a separate world: a small secluded space delimited by tall buildings, the road paved as if slender horses and elegant carriages and a shabby populace were to be seen tread that secluded area, lit by the flickering flames of torchlights. Via dell'Arco de' Tolomei is a spot where time seems to have stopped, and people still live their eighteenth-century lives. The spell of Rome is strong in this place.
We now enter the Trastevere, the city "across the Tiber" - the portion of Rome which is most unaltered from mediaeval times, and whose narrow streets are still overlooked by many ancient towers, gothic windows, and curious fragments of sculpture. The inhabitants on this side differ in many respects from those on the other side of the Tiber. They pride themselves to be the direct descendants of the ancient Romans. They are a far more hasty, passionate and revengeful. The proportion of murders is larger in this than in any other part of the city.
Words from The Grand Tour
Augustus J. C. Hare, "Walks in Rome", 1875
Visitor information
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Visiting tips:
In the Trastevere district, easily reached from Piazza Sonnino
Via dell'Arco de' Tolomei
Always open
Proceed from Via dei Salumi for the most picturesque experience