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Rome’s best-known bar area is Campo de’ Fiori, found in Centro Storico.
A market by day, this piazza empties out after dusk to become rowdy, rammed and full of atmosphere. More than 20 bars and restaurants welcome an international crowd every night, with heaps of outdoor music and one establishment’s brash sound system competing with that of its neighbour. Weekends are extra busy.
Campo di Fiori has two flaws, though: being quite touristy means it isn’t cheap, while it also feels rather, well, obvious. Going here is akin to going to Leicester Square when in London – reliable, but perhaps a little uninspired.
Slightly more off the beaten bar track is Trastevere, located on the other side of stone footbridge Ponte Sisto.
Its heart is the Piazza di Santa Maria’s fountain, but in truth there are wine bars, craft-beer caves, student favourites and dives everywhere, plus a raft of restaurants. The area feels comfortably bohemian, its streets packed and pretty.
Trastevere is also, therefore, the kind of place where it pays to know where you’re going. Locals swear by old-school Bar San Calisto in the piazza of the same name, mainly because it serves Rome’s cheapest beer.
Much cooler is APS Keyhole (Via dell’Arco di San Calisto), a 1920s-style speakeasy with braced barmen and chesterfield furniture.
Then there’s Rivendita Libri Cioccolata e Vino bookshop (Vicolo del Cinque), and its alcoholic shooters in edible chocolate shot glasses. Despite the 2am close, queues are ever-present.
For clubbing, head south to Testaccio, a circle-shaped area near Piramide and Ostiense.
Built into the side of a hill, this area is home to over a dozen nightspots including Akab (Via di Monte Testaccio), along with live-music venues Conte Staccio (also Via di Monte Testaccio) and the more punkish Villaggio Globale (Lungo Tevere Testaccio). It’s isolated, single-minded and pricey – all cocktails tend to cost north of €10 – but a safe bet for early-hours hijinks.
Know that many of Testaccio’s clubs close in July and August, or move their operations to the river.
To mix with Rome’s cool cats, journey east to the street-art-filled university district of San Lorenzo.
The bustling focal points are Piazza degli Aurunci and Piazza dell’Immacolata, each bursting with quirky venues.
Bar à Book (Via dei Piceni) and Giufa (Via degli Aurunci) both have a relaxed Berlin-like vibe and air of creativity, while Apartment Bar (Via dei Marrucini) offers a leafy rooftop garden.
Away from alcohol-fuelled adventures, Rome has fantastic theatre, opera and classical music scenes.
Fans of the latter will be happiest at the impressive, Renzo Piano-designed Auditorium Parco Della Musica in northern Rome, listening to shows staged by the prestigious institution of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. Famous tenors and orchestras regularly perform.
The Teatro dell’Opera is located in Centro Storico and famed for opera, dance and ballet performances. Its 450-seat, Liberty-style ballroom is magnificent enough, but in summer shows relocate to the ancient ruins of the Baths of Caracalla. This open-air opera ranks among Rome’s great traditions.
Looking for pre-theatre/club dining inspiration? Look no further than our page dedicated to eating out in Rome.