Trastevere is a neighbourhood with a unique history. Originally, this was where the Etruscans (an ancient Italian tribe) were relocated, and then where the working class and artisans lived. Today, it’s home to some of the best bars in Rome; here’s where to find them, from traditional hangouts to the newest and chicest neighbourhood venues.
In Italy, a café is generally a meeting place for a drink, whereas a bar is for a quick (or long) coffee break – but there’s no such confusion at 404 Name Not Found, which does both these things simultaneously. Café all day long, local watering hole by night, this quaint spot in Trastevere is a true gem. The clientele is split between Trastevere’s residents, tourists and students – 404 appeals to them all. It opens early for breakfast and serves food and drink all day long – you can pop in for a coffee, tea or a “quick” Italian lunch. From its assortment of panini to heaped dishes of pasta and polenta, everything is freshly made and focuses on seasonal cuisine. As a bar, 404 only features Italian craft beer (tap and bottle) and collaborates exclusively with one wine company offering bottles from right across the country, and perfectly mixed cocktails.
Enza Li Gioi, a writer and playwright, decided to revive the lost tradition of literary cafés that existed in 18th-century Italy by opening Lettere Caffè. A meeting place that supports and showcases the arts in all forms, the café offers literary presentations and book swapping events, and its calendar changes frequently to keep things fresh. But you can also just come here to chill out and have a drink – it serves a vegetarian/vegan aperitivo every day from 7pm to 9pm. This is the place where writers, poets, artists and musicians (and the people who appreciate them) come to work or find inspiration, and you’ll find Enza and her artist daughter Costanza here almost every night. This unique space offers a cultural hub in the community, with excellent deals on Italian wines.
Alcazar combines cinema, concerts and art with good food and drink. The first and only venue in Rome dedicated to funk, soul, jazz and blues, it attracts artists from all over the world, and every Sunday there’s even an American brunch and an Agora Market where you can browse artisanal, handmade products and crafts by emerging designers.
La Punta is a tribute to all things Mexico – from the colourful interiors to the flavourful food and cocktails. There are over 500 different types of tequila and mezcal to choose from, and its signature Margaritas and Palomas are not to be missed. Most of the time you will find at least one of the owners there, ready to give you a warm welcome and a crash-course introduction to the beloved agave. In this case, blending cultures and ingredients turns out something truly one-of-a-kind.
Renovated in April 2019, Hotel San Francesco is a small and charming modern boutique hotel on the border of Trastevere and Testaccio that is home to Jacopa – a lobby bar, gourmet restaurant and rooftop destination all in one. Named after the street it’s on – which is named after Saint Jacopa – the bar has one of the largest terraces in Rome and cocktails at a fraction of the cost of the rooftop bars in the city centre; here, you’ll enjoy a sunset glass of wine and panoramic views over the best of Rome without the hefty price tag.
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