Even if you don’t speak Italian, you can generally follow the listings of special events and evening entertainment featured in “La Repubblica,” a leading national newspaper published in Rome. See also the “TrovaRoma” section of its city website, www.roma.repubblica.it. “Wanted in Rome” (www.wantedinrome.com) has listings of opera, rock, English-language cinema showings, and such and gives an insider look at expat Rome. “Un Ospite a Roma” is available for free from concierge desks and tourist information centers, is full of details on what’s happening around the city. Free magazine and website “Romeing” (www.romeing.it) is worth consulting for events and lifestyle updates on the contemporary scene. Also check InRomeNow.com for monthly updates of cultural events.
Unless you’re dead set on making the Roman nightclub circuit, try what might be a far livelier and less expensive scene—sitting late at night on Via Veneto, Piazza della Rotonda, Piazza del Popolo, or one of Rome’s other piazzas, all for the (admittedly inflated) cost of an espresso, a cappuccino, or a Campari and soda. For clubbers, it is almost impossible to predict where the next hot venue will appear, but if you like it loud and late—and have an adventurous streak—jump in a cab to Monte Testaccio or Via del Pigneto and bar-hop wherever takes your fancy. In Trastevere, there’s always a bit of life along Via Politeana around the spot where it meets Piazza Trilussa. Try your luck there.
Performing Arts & Live Music
While the music scene doesn’t have the same vibrancy as Florence—nor the high-quality opera of Milan’s La Scala or La Fenice in Venice —classical music fans are still well catered for in Rome. As well as the major venues, featured below, you should also look out for concerts and one-off events in churches and salons around the city. Check www.operainroma.com for an calendar of opera and ballet staged by the Opera in Roma association at the Chiesa Evangelica Valdese, Via IV Novembre 107. Other venues that regularly run classical music and operatic evenings include the Pontificio Instituto di Musica Sacra, Piazza Sant’Agostino 20A (www.musicasacra.va; (tel) 06-6638792) and All Saints’ Anglican Church, Via del Babuino 153 (www.accademiadoperaitaliana.it; (tel) 06-7842702).
Remember: In Rome and everywhere else in Italy, if you just want to drink a quick coffee and bolt, walk up to il banco (the bar), order “un caffè, per favore” or “un cappuccino,” and don’t move. They will make it for you to drink on the spot. It will cost more (at least double) to sit down to drink it, and outdoor table service outside is the most expensive way to go. Even in the heart of the center, a short coffee al banco should cost no more than 1€; add around.20€ for a cappuccino. Expect to pay up to five times that price if you sit outdoors on a marquee piazza. Most cafes in the city serve a decent cup of coffee, but we have chosen a small selection of places worth hunting down, below.
Wine Bars, Cocktail Bars & Craft Beer Bars
For Rome’s most creative modern cocktails, in a casual environment, visit Caffè Propaganda.
When the sun goes down, Rome’s palaces, ruins, fountains, and monuments are bathed in a theatrical white light. Few evening occupations are quite as pleasurable as a stroll past the solemn pillars of old temples or the cascading torrents of Renaissance fountains glowing under the blue-black sky.
The Fountain of the Naiads (Fontana delle Naiadi) on Piazza della Repubblica, the Fountain of the Tortoises (Fontana della Tartarughe) on Piazza Mattei, the Fountain of Acqua Paola (Fontanone) at the top of Janiculum Hill, and the Trevi Fountain are particularly beautiful at night. The Capitoline Hill (or Campidoglio) is magnificently lit after dark, with its measured Renaissance facades glowing like jewel boxes. The view of the Roman Forum seen from the rear of Piazza del Campidoglio is perhaps the grandest in Rome. If you’re across the Tiber, Piazza San Pietro (in front of St. Peter’s) is impressive at night without the crowds. And a combination of illuminated architecture, baroque fountains, and sidewalk shows enlivens Piazza Navona.
The mass social phenomenon of the aperitivo (happy hour—and so much more) can be a great way to meet, or at least observe the particular ways of, real Romans. It started in hard-working northern cities like Milan, where you’d go to a bar after leaving the office, and for the price of one drink (usually under 10€), you get access to an unlimited buffet of high-quality food—like chunks of parmigiano, cured meats, fresh green salad or other pasta salads. Luckily for Rome (a decidedly less industrious city), the custom trickled down here, and now the city is filled with casual little places to drop in for a drink (from 6 or 7pm onward) and eat to your heart’s content of all these tasty finger foods. Look for signs in the window and follow your nose. The Monti neighborhood is a good place to begin. The Enoteca Provincia Romana also does good aperitivo.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.