Rome After Dark: Where To Drink and Where To Dance

Sam Peet /
Sam Peet / | © Culture Trip
Flavia Carlorecchio

Explore Roman nightlife with a selection of the city’s best clubs and late-night bars. Let resident DJ Fabio Luzietti be your guide as you put on your dancing shoes and get ready to party the night away in rock ’n’ roll pubs, techno clubs and live music bars.

Rome’s party scene is vibrant, electric and diverse – but sometimes difficult to navigate. To make it easier for you, nightlife enthusiast Flavia Carlorecchio has consulted Rome-based journalist and DJ Fabio Luzietti about some of his favourite places in the city. After building his career through the roaring ’90s and contributing to the growth of a Roman indie-alternative clubbing scene, Luzietti now broadcasts for Radio Sonica and performs as a DJ in the best clubs in the city. Here’s where he’d like to take you for a night out.

(A note about Rome’s nightlife: it starts late. Don’t panic if you turn up to the club at 11 and it’s deserted, as things only really start to get intense after midnight in the Eternal City. If you’re out clubbing, expect to stay up till dawn, while late-night bars usually close at 2am. Most of the best nights are hosted from Thursday to Sunday, but you’re never too far from a perfect midweek pick-me-up; check individual venue websites for the latest news on what’s on.)

1. Goa Club

Bar, Cocktails

Goa Club has been the temple of electronic music in Rome since it first opened its doors in 1996. Located in the Ostiense neighbourhood, its nights offer an impressive rotation of resident and world-famous DJs at more-than-affordable prices. Decked out with industrial, optical illusion-style black and white decor, it’s the perfect combination of dance floor and lounge – once you’ve worn yourself out under the disco ball, retreat to the sofas and refresh with one of their classic cocktails (they have a great selection of spirits). Fabio says: “A must in the Roman clubbing scene, with one of the best sound systems in town. A great musical selection in a carefully designed location.”

2. Fanfulla 5/A

Bar, Nightclub, Cocktails

Fanfulla is a small social club in the offbeat Pigneto neighbourhood, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in atmosphere. It promotes underground culture by hosting live bands and DJs both resident and international. Its event listings comprise rock, pop, electro and punk, all played in an intimate and sparkling setting. It’s changed location and name over the years, but has always kept its unique approach and has a well-earned place on the list of party lover’s favourite places. The drink of choice? Their renowned negroni, which is perfect fuel for a night on your feet. A membership card is needed for entry, but most of the events are free. Fabio says: “With well-thought live music and a friendly and homely environment, this is a must-visit underground spot.”

3. Largo Venue

Nightclub, Bar, Beer, Wine, Cocktails

Just outside Pigneto, behind a small door and an unassuming fence, you will find Largo Venue. This roomy warehouse is completed by a lovely outside garden, making it a great place for a night out with friends when you’re in the mood to dance and chat in equal measures. Add a laid-back atmosphere, a lot of comfy seats and a spacious modern bar, and you’re ready to hit the floor. Live shows and DJ sets illuminate Friday and Saturday nights, with frequent special events to look out for. Rub shoulders with the hipster youth of Rome, who often choose Largo Venue for a regular night out. Fabio says: “The garden is perfect for a chitchat with friends, and I love the regular indie-pop nights.”

4. Arena Monk Club, Roma

Concert Hall, Music Venue

Born from the ashes of the historic club Circolo degli Artisti, the Monk Club represents a major hub for the alternative-rock crowd. This indie haven can be found in Portonaccio, conveniently close to the Tiburtina train station. The garden is open throughout the summer (and partly available in winter), and the shabby-chic restaurant inside offers the perfect chill-out space during a night out. A number of annual festivals choose to host their events here, including names such as Psych, Manifesto, Romaeuropa and Roma Jazz. The bar has a great range of beers and, as befits an Italian club, a carefully chosen wine selection. Fabio says: “This is an eclectic and affordable artistic space with a year-round strong cultural offer. Come for the lives, stay for the vibes!”

5. Le Bon Bock

Bar, Cocktails

‘Le Bon Bock’ is a painting by French artist Édouard Manet, in which a man pulls on his pipe and sips his beer, the very picture of blissful relaxation. It’s the namesake of (and the inspiration for) the warm and relaxed atmosphere of this Scottish pub, which has been open for more than 20 years now. Located in Monteverde, just outside the gates of Villa Pamphili, it attracts whisky enthusiasts from all over the city. The choice is impressive, with high-end bottles hailing not only from Scotland but from all over the world – there’s an impressive Japanese collection. The prices are reasonable, and the knowledgeable staff are happy to help find the right dram for you. Fabio says: “This is a piece of Scotland in Monteverde – a one-of-a-kind pub in Rome.”

6. Orion

Bar, Nightclub, Beer, Cocktails

Just landed in Ciampino airport? Your next stop could be the Orion Club for a post-plane party. Set slightly outside the city centre, this place is a Roman reference point for fans of live rock music, with a huge dance space and a great sound system. If you want to rock out with the Romans, check its programme, featuring bands like Lacuna Coil, Black Flag, Symphony X and more. It also offers themed dance nights and works in partnership with the most important Roman clubs. Entry fees are affordable, though expect to pay a little more to see the bigger names. Fabio says: “[Known] for its big capacity and its technical features, this is a great mid-size event venue to enjoy rock and metal music in Rome.”

7. Le Mura

Bar, Nightclub, Beer, Wine, Cocktails

Le Mura is found in the heart of San Lorenzo, the university area north of Termini station. The pub has a laid-back atmosphere with live music played pretty much seven days a week, with genres ranging from rock to house. It’s run by people who know what their customers want – great music to listen to, with a great drink in hand. You might want to ask the barman for the daily special from their menu of cocktails and craft beers. Many Romans end their night here, and after a visit you’ll understand why. The decor is characterful, with tables made from barrels, unique art lining the walls, a book-swap section, stencils and free table football to test your skills. Membership is needed to enter this cosy cave of cheap prices and great company. Fabio says: “If you want to discover resident young talents, Le Mura is where you need to go. Unmissable.”

8. The Jerry Thomas Speakeasy

Bar, Pub Grub, Wine, Beer, Cocktails, Italian

Jerry Thomas Speakeasy
© Alberto Blasetti / Jerry Thomas Speakeasy
The Jerry Thomas Speakeasy has been celebrating the art of mixology since 2010 – referred to as the first Italian “secret bar”, it’s made its way onto the prestigious World’s 50 Best Bars list and into the hearts of Romans. Immerse yourself in its dark smoky atmosphere, and observe the bartenders (clad in Prohibition-era costumes) as they craft cocktails such as the gin-based Improved Aviation. Here, you can step in another century, just beside the Campo de’ Fiori, but be sure to book first. Check their Facebook for information on how to do so. Fabio says: “A lot of speakeasy bars popped up in Rome, but the Jerry Thomas is the best for the quality of the cocktails and the amazing atmosphere.”

9. Big Mama

Bar, Beer, Wine, Cocktails

Referring to itself as “Home of the blues in Rome,” The Big Mama is found in the beating heart of Trastevere. It’s been attracting guests, and a list of illustrious artists including Elvis Costello, Tori Amos and Pino Daniele, since 1984. The atmosphere is intimate, the people friendly, and the music lively – expect a soundtrack of blues with the occasional rock, jazz, or swing night. The membership card is very reasonable, and entrance to most nights are free. Fabio says: “Historic and iconic for its high-quality live music. If you like blues tunes and a friendly environment, Big Mama is a must-go.”

10. Big Star, Rome

Pub, Pub Grub

The Big Star is a rock ’n’ roll pub on the slope of Gianicolo hill, a peaceful spot in Trastevere. Stretched over two floors, it has a stage for occasional live sessions and DJ sets, countless posters of past acts plastered over the walls and a constant playlist of unforgettable rock music. Stay through the night, try their craft beers or go for a cocktail – they know how to treat you. And don’t bother eating anywhere else: the food is classic pub grub, with the burgers being a particular highlight. Fabio says: “The owners know how to make you feel at home. A good night out with friends while sipping craft beers: that’s my jam.”

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