The district of Testaccio is a kind of hidden gem of Rome. When visiting the eternal city, normally tourists explore closer to the city center and spend a lot of time at the generic tourist attractions like Trevi Fountain and the Spanish steps. After getting to know the city a little better, Testaccio is an extremely underrated district of Rome. Easy to get to via the Metro straight to the stop Piramide on the B line, the largely working-class neighborhood has sights of its own and a wealth of history and more modern attractions. Right outside the stop, you will almost immediately see the Pyramid of Cestius. A half-sized pyramid that’s a tomb to a religious figure.
Right next to the pyramid is a portion of the Aurelian Walls that used to outline the borders of the city of ancient Rome. At this specific part of the wall, there was a battle between the Romans and German forces during World War II when the Germans tried to siege the city. Since this district has a large portion of its history rooted in the war efforts, there is a beautiful cemetery a short walk away from the pyramid where British and Irish troops who were allies of the Italian army were buried. It is beautifully maintained and enclosed, giving it a reverent stillness from the hustle and bustle of the street.
In addition to the rich history of this neighborhood, it’s now a hotspot for the youth of Rome. Home to many extremely popular dance clubs and bars it’s the place to be when the sun sets. It’s also the home of the main campus of the University of Rome. The campus has taken residence in an old slaughterhouse complex where they remodeled the entire inside of the buildings and left the outside to still have the appearance of a meat processing plant. Another interesting aspect of this neighborhood is their giant hill of broken clay containers named Monte Testaccio. Roman pottery and containers used to transport food, water, and other supplies that have been discarded behind old factory buildings that date back to the Roman Empire. This led to the build-up of a giant mound or hill of these clay fragments that have now become overgrown with trees and plants and almost looks like a completely normal hill, but once you look a little closer you can see all of the broken clay contains that create this hill. It’s definitely a must see when in Rome.