Just a short boat ride across the Tiber river, separates the colourful neighbourhood of Trastevere from the well-trodden tourist routes around Rome. It’s also linked by the Ponte Sisto pedestrian bridge, which looks especially picturesque at night, when it’s gently illuminated. This distance saved these enchanting medieval streets from the expansion which altered central Rome for good in the nineteenth century. The mix of foreign tourists and unpretentious locals has produced an eclectic community, where buskers sing outside internet cafes, and romantic fountains are flanked by enthusiastic jugglers. Located on Via Corsini, the fragrant gardens of Orto Botanico provide respite from the crowds and an astonishing collection of plant life. Next door at the Palazzo Corsini, you can take in some of the best art in Italy’s national collection, including Caravaggio’s dramatic St John the Baptist and works by Rubens, Van Dyck and Guido Reni. The busy Piazza di Santa Maria is packed with restaurants and bars, but for a cheaper meal, head south of Viale Trastevere. Here, the 5th century church of Santa Cecilia provides an unforgettable experience, with its delicate sculpture of St. Cecilia and many ancient mosaics in the crypt. It’s also a genuine neighbourhood with rows of washing criss-crossing the alleyways, makeshift shrines and lovingly tended terraces - ideal for exploring on foot.