When I first began my time as an au-pair in Rome, I felt quite isolated. August is one of the quietest months of the year as many locals have time off of work and travel to the coast. I didn’t mind wandering around sightseeing alone, but I wasn’t confident enough yet to go and explore the nightlife by myself. I had to be more social if I was going to get a flavor of Rome by night.
Through a mix of going on bar crawls, utilizing the au-pair group on Facebook (most cities have one), Tinder (don’t judge me, it is actually a good tool to ask the locals about night life, I promise) and trial and error over the month, these were my favourite places that I discovered. Make sure you double check online because not all places are open all year round and as I was there from August to September, it was during the transition from the Summer to the Winter season.
If you want…
1) To meet locals: The Magick Bar
The first thing that someone asked me while there, was how on earth I’d found out about it, as it’s supposedly a bit of a well kept secret from tourists. It’s a quirky open air bar overlooking the river, but you might have to fight to get seats as it can become pretty crowded. People usually go there to pre drink before moving on to one of the clubs. The drinks are quite expensive but they are very strong (for a lightweight like me, anyway). Bear in mind that European measures of spirits are double that of a single British one. A good rooftop bar is Apartment Bar. I tried to go there with a friend, but we accidentally went on a bank holiday to find it shut. I heard rave reviews about it though so you should definitely check it out.
2) For an international crowd & casual atmosphere – Piazza Risorgimento / Campo di Fiori / Piazza Navona
In Rome, it is very common for people to congregate and drink outside, especially on balmy summer nights. Piazza Risorgimento is a nice square in Trastevere, a popular location, especially for a more international crowd as there are universities nearby. The general area has lots of bars and the drinks are cheap and cheerful. The west bank of the Tiber river is also host to a string of bars, and late night stalls. Campo di Fiori is also a popular spot and is one of the places that is often frequented on bar crawls, but I personally found it slightly too touristy for my liking. The bars in the Piazza Navona area are also very popular.
3) To go clubbing – ShariVari Playhouse
In Rome there didn’t seem to be much of a clubbing culture – in comparison to London and what I was used to. Instead, the nightlife was a lot more relaxed. However, this isn’t to say that there aren’t any decent clubs, and ShariVari was definitely one of my favourites. The interior decor is very elegant, and there are rooms to cater to all music tastes. The drinks are a little overpriced so make sure you pre-drink sufficiently.
4) Open air clubs – Il Bosco Delle Fragole or Rebel Rebel
The first thing that you should know is that both of these places are incredibly hard to get back from, especially the latter, so make sure you have transport prearranged. Taxis are nowhere to be seen. I went to Rebel Rebel one Saturday and had resigned myself to walking home, until an hour into the journey, someone kindly offered to give us a lift. Luckily, I was with a friend, I definitely wouldn’t have risked it if alone, and our decision was still questionable but the prospect of walking any further in heels was a bleak one. If you have that sorted then you’ll have an amazing time. Both tend to play house, commercial or electronic music. If you go on to their Facebook pages/websites before hand you can put your name on the guest list so you can walk straight in. They don’t start getting busy until post-midnight.
5) Fancy aperitifs – Dukes Roma or Bar Necci
Dukes Roma is very sophisticated. I went there with my host parents on my last night in Rome, and probably wouldn’t have ventured there on my own as it’s quite pricey. Alternatively, the vintage cocktails in Bar Necci can definitely give them a run for their money. It’s in the district of Pigneto which is rather trendy at the moment. Pigneto to Rome is currently what Hoxton is to London. It was established in 1929, but considering its notoriety it wasn’t too crowded at all. This might be because the bar is quite difficult to find so make sure to check the whereabouts beforehand/use google maps.
6) A Beach Party – Signita miracle beach
You’ll need a car to get here as it’s quite far out, and for this reason unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to go. Apparently, some people sleep on the beach if they have no way of getting back, but as a woman on my own, I didn’t really want to do this. It was extremely popular though, and people told me to go time and time again so for this reason I think I’d be doing it a disservice if I didn’t include it in the list.
7) A Speak Easy Bar – Jerry Thomas
On my last night in Rome, I was told one of my Italian friends had the password to get into Jerry Thomas. We went as a group of about five, down an alley way where we knocked on an unassuming door. We were told to wait. A few of the others sauntered off after a while, but Alisa and I were determined to get in. Eventually, as there were only two of us we were permitted entry. There is a reason why it is on the list of the top 50 bars in the world. Classy, intimate and decadently decorated, you are immediately transported back to the 1920s. It is obligatory to purchase a membership and there are certain rules you have to follow, such as no flash photography or talking on the phone. Since then, I’ve found out that you can apparently also ring up and book a reservation if you do so well in advance (although I don’t like to admit this because then I don’t feel as special).