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Testaccio: Rome's New 'Left Bank'
After taking in the historic peace and quiet of the Aventine Hill, switch lanes and head for the hip-hopping 'hood of Testaccio, especially on Saturday night, when a panoply of clubs and discos rend the air (but is one person's music another's noise pollution?). From the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, take Via di Porta and the Lavernale to Via Marmorata. Testaccio has plain early-1900s housing, a down-to-earth working-class atmosphere, and plenty of good trattorias. And, of course, Monte Testaccio, a grassy knoll about 150 feet high. What makes this otherwise unremarkable-looking hill special is the fact that it's made from pottery shards—pieces of amphorae, large jars used in ancient times to transport oil, wheat, wine, and other goods. Make your way to Piazza Testaccio, dominated by the covered market where you can sample everything from wild strawberries to horsemeat sausage. Move on to the prettier Piazza di Santa Maria Liberatrice. There are some quintessential Roman trattorias along Via Marmorata and near the Mattatoio, the former slaughterhouse. The area sights—Porta San Paolo, one of the ancient city gates in the 3rd-century AD Aurelian walls, the big white Piramide di Caio Cestio, and the Cimiterio degli Inglesi—are found several blocks to the south around Piazziale Ostiense.
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