Testaccio is the Rione XX of Rome. It was named after Monte Testaccio, an artificial hill made of broken clay vessels (testae in Latin) piled up over the centuries, and located only 35 metres away from the rione. Also known as the hill of clay vessels, the mons testaceus is an authentic Ancient Roman landfill dating back to the III century and made up of several layers of broken clay vases, which were used to carry oil and wheat and came from the nearby commercial river harbour (emporium).
Over the centuries several caves were dug, serving as cellars. The caves were surmounted by taverns where the locals could refresh themselves during their excursions in the countryside. Testaccio also included the green areas lying between the city walls and Monte Testaccio, where people went to work out or during Easter Monday trips and Ottobrate. The latter were typical Roman festivals featuring parades of chariots decorated by the female grape harvesters, songs, dances, and a lot of Castelli Romani wine, which was kept in the caves dug in Monte Testaccio.
Testaccio was the district of shepherds, farmers and poor people, ravaged by frequent floods of the Tiber and infested with malaria. At the end of the XIX century a reclamation and urban renewal program was started. Therefore, the area of Testaccio up to Via Ostiense and Saint Paul’s Basilica was assigned to industries and heavy duty services. The railway system, the city slaughterhouse, the wholesale trading market, and the gas factory were built as a result of the urban renewal.
Testaccio did not enjoy a good reputation because of the commercial trades taking place in its harbour and its people. According to a survey conducted in 1884, the district ranked first in Italy for alcoholic drink consumption!
A low–class district, as well as a popular night out destination, Testaccio once hosted the A.S. Roma football field. It still boasts a deep love for this football team.
The old taverns have now been turned into pubs and restaurants continuing the tradition of good time and fun related to the district. The old city slaughterhouse now hosts a section of MACRO, Rome’s Museum of Contemporary Art, while the Scuola popolare di Musica di Testaccio (Testaccio's Music School) is in Monte Testaccio.