Rome’s music scene, more often than not, happens beyond the historic center – more open to rooted residents than to new visitors. However, there are plenty of musical surprises to find across the city from trendy to traditional venues to especially imaginative street musicians. With some foresight, even those places furthest afield will be worth the effort to know.
After two years familiarizing the various neighborhoods of Rome, I wish to share here some favorite places to see concerts. They include: Circolo Degli Artisti, Santa Cecilia (Parco Della Musica Auditorium), Brancaleone, Villagio Globale, Sinister Noise, and a diverse array of cultural institutes.
Circolo degli Artisti (Circle of Artists), located in the hip neighborhood of Pigneto (south of San Lorenzo), offers a sublime setting to witness indie and electronic shows. A wood-burning stove serves up pizzas and a wine/beer list adds to the entire appeal. Plus, the space’s character benefits from being at the base of an ancient aqueduct.
Address: Via Casalina Vecchia, 42
Santa Cecilia is a stunning auditorium integrated into a huge music park designed by renowned Genovese architect Renzo Piano. The site’s visionary aesthetic is a treat to behold. The concert hall’s interior mesmerizes both visually and tonally. Take a tram north from Piazzale Flaminio (near Piazza Del Popolo) to the wealthy Parioli neighborhood for a vividly memorable classical or ambient performance.
Address: Viale Pietro De Coubertin, 30
Brancaleone is a three floor dance club in the northeast of Rome, best known for offering all kinds of electronic genres. I went there last for a Warp Records birthday party; the top floor held a small theater showing old music videos. The second floor had a couple rooms of artists splicing electronic records. The first floor contains the main stage and a grand dance floor. Getting here requires a bus from one of the Metro lines, so plan accordingly. Alternatively, it makes sense to go with a bunch of friends and split taxi rides.
Address: Via Levanna, 13
Villagio Globale is an open, rather industrial space for an odd assortment of obscure and popular events. Located along the river Tiber, in the neighborhood of Testaccio, this space serves as a progressive social center. The crowds can grow wild depending on the performance drawing all types of people.
Address: Lungo Tevere, 1
Sinister Noise is a newer rock’n’roll hub for Rome. Located near the Piramide Metro stop in Testaccio, just off of Via Ostiense, this well connected neighborhood is also within walking distance from Circus Maximus, the Colosseum and from many of our apartment listings near there. Go here for experimental and underground rock – the entrance has a fun pub with a good selection of beers. Grab a drink then head downstairs for the show.
Address: Via dei Magazzini Generali, 4b
The foreign cultural institutes and academies are primarily concentrated within the northwest parts of Villa Borghese but are also dispersed across the entire city. Such spaces provide a wide spectrum of on-going musical performances, especially from the rest of Europe. One of my favorites is the Hungarian Academy within Palazzo Falconieri, near Ponte Sisto. I once attended a blind pianist’s solo concert there in a tiny, exquisitely decorated, candle-lit room from the 1500s, whose tall windows overlooked the gracious Via Giulia during a night storm. These types of idyllic venues are most refined, yet often free of charge and one is likely to be found near any of our apartment rentals.
Finally, many popular piazzas near our apartment rentals, such as Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere and Piazza Farnese (Campo De’ Fiori), awaken in the evenings with street musicians and fountain gatherings of new and old friends. My favorite street musician is a one-man band, who wears a bird beak, named Claudio Montauri. He can be heard sometimes among the chatty ambience of those two particularly splendid piazzas.