The Best Cultural Bars In Rome Drinking La Dolce Vita

| © Marcovarro /
Amber Paulen

Rome is not especially known for its bar scene, but there are jewels hidden away between the many Irish pubs scattered around the late-night piazza Campo dei Fiori. Rome has some great cultural bars, many of blending vintage cool with the classic Italian sense of style, and showing art and live music.Here we reveal Rome’s best watering holes.

1. Ai Tre Scalini

Bar, Restaurant, Wine Bar, Italian, Wine, Beer

Ai Tre Scalini, Roma
©Alexander Russy/Flickr
If you’re looking for a wine bar while in Rome then head to Tre Scalini in the Monti neighborhood. Tre Scalini usually has a good selection of wines by the glass, a great list of wines to drink by the bottle and beer on tap. On top of that, the wine bar is an inviting place to pass an evening, with its wooden furniture and choice music playing. Tre Scalini has become a busy night spot and is popular for dinner too. A good pairing with a bottle of red, like a Chianti DOCG, is the meat and cheese plate featuring mozzarella di bufala and prosciutto, sourced from farms and towns not far from Rome.

2. Apartment Bar

Bar, Beer, Cocktails, Italian

Across the city in the student district of San Lorenzo, the Apartment Bar is where locals love to go for cocktails and tapas. The eclectic vintage decor will make anyone feel at home as the comfortable easy chairs make for a great place for friends to come together over a few drinks. Upstairs there’s the ‘Paradise Garden’, a rooftop garden that with its palm trees and other luscious plants feels like a tropical place. Another plus: the Apartment Bar does its fair share in support of Rome’s art scene as it often hosts exhibitions. The music scene at the Apartment Bar is also fantastic as there are often bands and a DJ aperitivo (where snacks are served) and DJ nights if you want to dance.

0°300° Roof Garden Cold and Grill

Smack in the historic center of Rome, the First Art Luxury Hotel is a new five-star boutique hotel whose rooms and halls showcase contemporary, international artists. But you don’t have to stay in the hotel to enjoy the hotel’s elegant rooftop terrace where there is a bar and restaurant. The view from the top takes in the Pincian Hill, the domes and rambling rooftops of Rome’s historic centre. The bar at the First Art Luxury Hotel is an ideal place to come for a pre-dinner aperitivo while the sun is going down if you’re planning on having a special evening. Or there is the lounge bar of First Art Luxury Hotel, which is open all year round. At the lounge you can sip at a cocktail, eat finger foods and admire the artworks on display.

0°300° Roof Garden Cold and Grill, Via del Vantaggio 14,Historic Centre, Rome, Italy, +39 06 4561 7070

Bar at Hotel Locarno

The Hotel Locarno is a historic Rome staple located in the city centre. A step inside sends anyone back in time to the 1920s. Antiques of art deco furniture give an irresistible charm to the place and draw writers, artists and actors to the hotel’s rooms, of which no two are alike. Even if you’re not staying at the Hotel Locarno, you can still come and hang out in its bar. Outside in the metal garden chairs or inside the bar on the sturdy high stools there’s plenty of space to have a cocktail and admire the refined, timeless atmosphere.

Hotel Locarno, Via della Penna 22, Historic Centre, Rome, Italy, +39 06 361 0841

Hotel Locarno

3. Black Market

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Market, Cocktails, Beer, Pub Grub

There are plenty of bars in the Monti neighborhood to choose from, but Black Market really stands out among them. The vintage furniture, couches and creaky chairs are inviting places to sit back with friends and enjoy a bottle of wine or beer from the tap. This place fills up on weekend nights, but come on an early weekday instead for their aperitivo, where you can get food with your drinks, and not just the same tired, crustless tramezzini sandwiches but an ever-changing buffet. Check their site for live music events and their buffet menu.

4. Jerry Thomas Speakeasy

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

Named after the father of cocktails himself, the Jerry Thomas Speakeasy celebrates the memory of the man the bar was named after. Located near Campo dei Fiori, the Jerry Thomas Speakeasy is a welcome escape from the bars that populate the piazza. Things are done a little differently here. You must ring a bell and then know the secret code to get in (tip: it is the answer to the question found on the speakeasy’s website, which changes). But once inside you’ll see that here’s a place where the cocktail is taken seriously, all the way down to the prohibition time-period costumes the bartenders wear.

5. Open Baladin

Bar, Restaurant, Pub, Italian, Cocktails, Wine

Open Baladin
©Roberto Ventre/Flickr
Perhaps the best beer bar in the centre of Rome is Open Baladin. The beers on tap are numerous and come from Italy, Europe and the United States. The waiters will try to fit a beer to you if you give them some specifications. Open Baladin is open for lunch and through the day until dinner, which usually brings in the most crowds. But even if you don’t have a reservation to try their hamburgers (with bread made by Gabriele Bonci, Rome’s best baker and pizzamaker) and home-fried potato chips (though you certainly should), you’ll most likely be able to find a place at the bar where you can watch the beers come frothing into the glasses from the taps. Its modern, almost industrial decor has the effect of making you feel like you’ve been spirited away from Italy for the evening.

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