The grandeur and splendor of ancient architecture is only one face of Rome – the other is that of eternal fun, as expected of the Eternal City. While it is said the New York is the city that never sleeps, you can easily come back to that with a statement that Rome is a party that never ends. What makes Rome stand out in terms of nightlife in general is that the clubs don’t get going until well after midnight, so it should come as no wonder that parties can last much up to the late morning/early afternoon hours. This is a natural consequence of the usually long (if not longish) ‘before parties’ in the form of a dinner, where all the important decisions are made – where to go, where to park, who to call, etc. For an outsider this all might appear a bit odd and go on for, like, forever, but the Italians seem not to rush when it comes to good time – they know how to enjoy it, so when in Rome, do as the Romans do, and let the walkthrough below help you choose where you want to do it.
Step 1 – go out to ‘see and be seen’
There is a word to define the way the locals like their evenings – the term “passeggiata” refers to a (very) slow walk through the old town and enjoying the company of friends and the sense of being looked at by strangers. Well, the need for admiration is a human thing, right? Anyway, if you join the crowd strolling along the cobbled streets (ladies – pay attention: cobblestone is quite a challenge when it comes to wearing high heels!), you may choose several different directions to follow. Here’s a selection of all the usual spots that should appear especially pleasant to be at or around:
Campo de’ Fiori
This beautiful piazza boasts an amazing number of diverse pubs and bars – something for every walk of life. It’s quite loud due to the fact that it is the first choice for tourists, who in turn mix willingly with the local crowd. So, apart from Italian toasts expect to hear some cheers in English, German, French, Japanese or Spanish – to name but a few languages to be heard throughout the dozens of local establishments. Places like La Vineria, Drunken Ship or Sloppy Sam’s, set in the magic classical background are recommended in particular.
Via della Pace and its surroundings
If you’re after something a bit more fancy, head west from Piazza Navona and take a stroll along the charming lanes surrounding the church of Santa Maria della Pace. This is where you’ll find a host of bars that in general attract the more ‘posh’ clientele. However, the apparent elegance and chic of most of the places does not make them less inviting – quite the contrary even! Soon you’ll come to appreciate the Parisian feel of Caffè della Pace, the shabby-chic Etabli or the futuristic Fluid. Now, take notes: there is a spot called Société Lutèce (Piazza di Montevecchio 17 – the address is to aid you in your search) which serves free apertivo spread around 7:30 p.m., which is one of the best in the city.
Cross the border marked by Tiber and enjoy the company of charming Mediaeval churches and even more cobbled streets. The area has become populated with tourists over time, but still offers a relaxing, enjoyable atmosphere – and some lovely views from the bank of the river. To start your evening right, head to Bir & Fud to taste beer made the Italian way and, of course, the fabulous pizza which goes perfectly with it. Another worthy spot is Ombre Rosse – a laid-back, friendly bar which offers some tasty drinks, bruschettas, paninis and salads that you can enjoy while listening to live jazz-type music. A more edgy, rough atmosphere is found in Bar San Calisto, which offers Peroni beer, wonderful homemade gelato and tables full of tattooed and pierced people (which turn out to be more friendly than scary, actually). Also, no visit to Trastevere is complete without stopping by at Freni e Frizioni (‘brakes and clutch’ in English) – a former car workshop, which now serves splendid aperitivo buffets, great cuisine and enjoys a superb décor. After a solid pre-clubbing preparation it is time to make your choice as for the place where you could conquer the dancefloor; let the following selection make it easier for you:
Akab (Via di Monte Testaccio 69)
One of the most established – and largest – clubs in the city, Akab offers a thrilling clubbing experience in its majestic underground “cave”, with space for a couple of hundreds guests. There’s also a smaller room on the ground floor and a garden open during the summer. The music ranges from house to soul and easy listening, though you can witness some live performances as well. This spot is a good place to start your clubbing adventure in Rome.
Brancaleone (Via Levanna 11 (Montesacro)
Something for those staying in the northern part of Rome. This place has been functioning as a socio-cultural centre for well over 15 years. It used to be a squat, but today its interiors are a home to an exhibition gallery, a cinema, a library and an eclectic club which plays some hard-to-find quality music like drum & bass, techno, house or reggae. Monochrome prevails, but the atmosphere is really lively and inspiring. Really worth the trip.
Gilda (Via Mario de’Fiori 97 (Spanish Steps)
This club has been regarded for many years as the place to go to get down to the sounds of disco. If you fancy the times of ‘La Dolce Vita’, this spot is for you. During the week, it addresses the teenage audience to instill the love for disco among the youngest (and to stay afloat, of course), but weekends deliver events for those over 21. Moreover, the historical location matches the splendid interiors of the club perfectly, which is yet another reason to visit the place. All those after the sound of disco are bound to be satisfied.
Micca Club (Via Pietro Micca 7a)
This amazing place incorporates elements of different areas of entertainment – from typical club events to publishing and broadcasting activities. This eclecticism is also reflected in the remarkable interiors, where you will find a huge staircase, a fountain, a large dancefloor, three bars, a smoking area, an exhibition space and a stage for live performances hidden under arched ceilings. The focus is on jazz-orientated sounds, though you can also hear some world-renowned DJs playing soft variations of house or bossa nova. There’s also a flea market on Sundays, and all that in very close vicinity to the Central Station and the Colosseo. Jazz on!
Circolo Degli Artisti (Via Casilina Vecchia 42 (Prenestino)
“Is there still a place to play some authentic Italian pop?”, you may ask. Actually, there is! This club comes with a huge dancefloor, ideal for an all-night dancing craze, a stage for live bands, a pizzeria and a pub. There’s also a charming outdoor garden, where you can enjoy your drink in the summer. The prices at the bar belong to one of the most affordable in the whole city, and the music selection covers electronic sounds, hip-hop, Italian pop-rock and even punk!
Bloom (Via del Teatre Pace 30, near Piazza Navona)
More of a lounge than a disco, the club is bound to win your interest with its fine décor and smooth sounds played inside. Take your time and sip your drink in your lounge for the whole night while the DJs take care of the comfort for your ears, serving dancefloor-friendly techno, pop and house. The feel seems more posh, though the atmosphere is rather easy-going, so if you’re looking for a more chilled-out evening, this place is for you. Also, on Mondays you can meet some well-known Italian celebrities and football players who gather there to socialize.