Nightlife & the Arts in Rome

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Rome Nightlife

Whether it’s a romantic rooftop drink, dinner in a boisterous restaurant, or dancing into the wee hours, Roman nightlife has always been a scene set for a movie. Director Federico Fellini immortalized nocturnal Rome in his many films about life in the Eternal City. Satyricon showcased Lucullan all-night banquets (and some more naughty entertainments) of the days of the emperors, while La Dolce Vita flaunted nightclubs and paparazzi of the city's Hollywood-on-the-Tiber era. And as the director lovingly showed in Fellini's Roma, the city’s streets and piazzas offered the best place for parties and alfresco dinners. Many visitors would agree with Fellini: Rome, the city, is entertainment enough.

The city's piazzas, fountains, and delicately colored palazzos make impressive backdrops for Rome's living theater. And Rome is a flirt, taking advantage of its spectacular cityscape, transforming ancient, Renaissance, and contemporary monuments into settings for the performing arts, whether outdoors in summer or in splendid palaces and churches in winter. Held at locations such as Villa Celimontana, Teatro dell’Opera, the Baths of Caracalla, or the church of Sant'Ignazio, the venue often steals the show.

Of all the performing arts, music is what Rome does best to entertain people, whether it be opera or jazz or disco. The cinema is also a big draw, particularly for Italian-language speakers, and there's a fantastic array of other options. Toast the sunset with prosecco while overlooking a 1st-century temple. Enjoy an evening reading in the Roman Forum or a live performance of Shakespeare in the Globe theater in the Villa Borghese park. Top off the night in your choice of Rome's many bars and discoteches. When all else fails, there's always late-night caffè-sitting, watching the colorful crowds parade by on a gorgeous piazza—it's great fun, even if you don't speak the language. Little wonder Rome inspired Fellini to make people-watching into an art form in his famous films.

Finding Great Nightlife

E mo'facciamo un giro—(And now let's take a spin).. To enjoy a night out in Rome, all you need are your feet (or a motorino) because you’re bound to swing by an enoteca—those classic wine bars, which abound in all parts of the city and rarely disappoint. These establishments are mostly small, and offer a smattering of antipasti to accompany a variety of wines and bubblies.

There are also stereotypical English and Irish pubs peppered around the city, complete with a steady stream of Guinness, darts, and footie and rugby on their satellite, flat-screen televisions. Lately, these pubs show American football, baseball, and basketball—ideal for those who don't want to miss a playoff or Super Bowl game.

But finding great nightlife is not quite as easy as a walk around the block. Although Rome offers a cornucopia of evening bacchanalia, from ultrachic to super cheap, all that glitters is not gold. Insiders and visitors alike understand that finding "the scene" in Rome is the proverbial needle in the haystack: it requires patience and pursuit. Word-of-mouth may be the best source, but also look to the entertainment guides like roma c'è and www.roma.tonight.eu . Trovaroma provides up-to-date listings of bars and clubs. Most visitors prefer to head out to one of three locations: between Piazza Navona and the Pantheon; the Campo de' Fiori and Trastevere; or Testaccio. (The Spanish Steps neighborhood is a ghost town by 9 pm.) Remember, Romans love an after-party—after dinner, of course—so plenty of nightlife doesn't start until midnight.

When it comes to clubs, discos, and DJs in Rome, you have two choices: Testaccio—considered mecca for clubs, discotheques, and bars, and perhaps your best choice for disco roulette—and everywhere else, since discoteche can be found in any Rome neighborhood. On average, drinks range between €10 and €15, and one is often included with the entrance (€10–€20). In June, July, and August, many clubs relocate to the beach or the Tiber, so call ahead to confirm location and hours. Then there is Via Galvani. Rome's equivalent of the Sunset Strip, this is where hybrid restaurant-clubs largely identical in music and crowd battle for top ranking. People-watchers rejoice: evenings here are a delight, with crowds ranging from romantic twosomes to post-teen “Beliebers” to savant Cassanovas of all ages.

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