‘All roads lead to Rome’ — and to its cafes and bars as well. From the old cafes that hosted late 18th century intellectuals, to the backdrops of the legendary Dolce Vita era, discover the Eternal City’s most charming historic bars with our guide.
Antico Caffe Greco
Antico Caffe Greco has hosted many writers and philosophers and a wide range of artists since its founding in 1760; every area of this cafe has a story to tell. The 2×8 room called ‘Omnibus’ hosted composers such as Wagner; Romantic poets like Lord Byron, Keats, and Shelley; and the philosopher Schopenhauer. The Russian dramatist Gogol is also said to have found inspiration for his masterpiece, Dead Souls, in this establishment. As the famous Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico used to say: ‘The Caffe Greco is one of the only places in the world where you may sit while waiting for the end of the world.’
Antico Caffè Greco, via Condotti 86, Rome, Italy +39 06 678 5474
Caffe Museo Atelier Canova Tadolini
Caffe Museo Atelier Canova Tadolini is not your average bar as it is housed in the former studio of one of the greatest Italian masters of neoclassicism, Antonio Canova. Rooms full of incredible marbled sculptures expressing the purest eternal beauty and will make your lunch, tea or coffee break a truly artistic experience.
Sala da tè Babington
Just opposite the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, there is a great piece of British culture in the Eternal City: the oldest English traditional tea room in town, Babington. In a time when tea was only sold in the pharmacies — around 1893 — opening a tea room was pretty revolutionary. Today, although the menu has more gourmet choices, tea remains king, with more than 30 blends plus a special mixture created in London. Come and enjoy the wide tea selection, made even better with a freshly baked English scone served with handmade jams.
Sala da té Babington, Piazza di Spagna 23, Rome, Italy +39 06 678 0846
Bar Rosati is a historic bar established in 1922 which has seen its fair share of high caliber writers and intellectuals including Alberto Moravia, Elsa Morante, and Pier Paolo Pasolini. Stop by for delicious pastries and refreshing drinks during the chilly Roman nights. Today, the Bar Rosati is a good spot from which to admire a breathtaking view of one of the most beautiful Roman squares: Piazza del Popolo.
Bar Rosati, Piazza del Popolo 5/A, Rome, Italy +39 06 322 5859
Oscar-winner and internationally known film director Federico Fellini was a regular at the Caffe Canova, a fancy venue with a terrace full of iron tables, set along the Piazza del Popolo. Not only will you find quality drinks and meals at Canova but also a gallery dedicated to Fellini himself,where you can admire pictures and sketches related to his life and career. Inside, there is also a section featuring quality cigars from all over the world.
Caffè Canova, Piazza del Popolo 16-17, Rome, Italy +39 06 361 2231
Established in 1900 as an expansion of a dairy business — so successful it became the Royal House’s official dairy — Giolitti is one of the oldest ice cream parlors in town. Its reputation is maintained by both the high quality of its legendary ice creams and its clientele, including Heads of State like Barack Obama. A wide selection of ice creams and related bar concoctions are available to be savored in one of the decorated rooms or on the go.
Giolitti, via Uffici del Vicario 40, Roma, Italy +39 06 699 1243
Gran Caffe Tazza d’Oro is an old charm bar which, since 1946, has remained an unmissable place for coffee lovers.
La Casa del Caffè Tazza d’Oro, via degli Orfani 84, Rome, Italy +39 06 678 9792
Caffe Sant’Eustachio is an unpretentious spot well known among locals for serving the best coffee in Rome. Admire the original 1930s floor and furniture, shelves full of fair trade coffee supplies, an old fashioned counter, and the few tables outside, which make this the perfect backdrop for savoring the specialty: the Grand Caffe. No one knows the secret behind this coffee blend, but it’s one not to be missed.
Caffé Sant’Eustachio, Piazza Sant’Eustachio 82, Rome, Italy +39 06 6880 2048
Bar Tre Scalini
Since its founding in 1815, Tre Scalini has witnessed a revolving door of international and local art clientele. Grab a table outside and enjoy the house specialty (tartufo) while watching the human traffic on Piazza Navona.
Bar Tre Scalini, Piazza Navona 28, Rome, Italy +39 06 6880 1996
H Club Doney
Via Veneto is another historic center that served as a backdrop to la Dolce Vita, and H Club Doney is one of the iconic bars, set right next to the opulent Westin Excelsior Hotel. Today it is known for more than a century of welcoming tradition and elegant aperos.
H Club Doney, via Vittorio Veneto 141, Rome, Italy +39 06 4708 2805
The quintessential Dolce Vita bar, Harry’s Bar has been immortalized as the backdrop of countless tabloid pictures that are proudly displayed on the walls and in the archives. Home away from home to barefooted Hollywood divas such as Anita Ekberg; exiled kings like Farouk; and Italian intellectuals such as Moravia, Pasolini, and Calvino, as well the set of Paolo Sorrentino’s La Grande Bellezza, this place has definitely been a great part of international and Italian culture.
Harry’s Bar, via Vittorio Veneto 150, Rome, Italy +39 06 484643