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a city by city guide to the best indie clubs, bars, record shops and local bands

Rome, Italy

By Chiara Fracassi

Mention Rome and an infinite series of postcards pictures will come to everyone’s mind: the magnificence of Coliseum standing still and proud to the orange sunset in spite of centuries, St Peter chapel and ranks and ranks of Popes that crowded the history of the City and the entire world, countless amazing and breathtaking monuments, buildings, paintings. Extraordinary artists that made humankind history and that still today re-affirm themselves as unsurpassed makers of genius walked the narrow and fascinating streets of downtown Rome. Go up on Capitol hill, right behind the Town Hall and take a deep breath: in a snapshot your eyes will capture the everlasting beauty of Fori Romani and your imagination could not help from picturing senators, Ceasars or geniuses of the likes of Michelangelo strolling by. Still, after a Roman holiday, you will be probably bring home back with you the taste of the local food or the warmth of city’s long hot summers that spring out early in April and still nourish you in late October. Again, for cinema lovers, Rome is an outdoor theater: every corner can recall bits and pieces of movies that made the history of the 7th art: Italian legendary moviemakers like Fellini, Pasolini, De Sica lived and loved the City which they tried to escape from time to time and, in the end, still felt too enthralled by to leave it for good. Nevertheless, such a heavy legacy has kept Rome away from the imaginary of a typical metropolis, with an underground vivid and lively cultural indie scene. Still, in the last decade, Rome has been changing a lot, accepting modernity and molding it together with its unbeatable history: take a step into it and you won’t be disappointed. NB: as said above, Roman summers tend to be extremely hot as of mid-June up to September…so, do not look for indoor clubbing in those months, but prefer a gig, a festival (“Luglio Suona Bene @ Auditorium” or “Rock in Roma” at Ippodromo delle Capannelle) or an outdoor exhibition.


Clubs


Fish n’ Chips
Radio Cafè, Via Principe Umberto 67, Fridays
Lino & Nicola spin the best and latest selection of indie, electro, new wave, 60s beat. The night would aim to bring to Rome the best from NYC and London clubs and has become popular and very crowded lately especially for 20ish audience. Go there for a good vibe, strong drinks and fashionable people. If you are over 28, you could get bored quite soon. Always take a look at their myspace as they host gigs and special DJs (Pete Doherty has been spotted around).

(www.myspace.com/fishnchipsvenue)

Screamadelica
Circolo degli Artisti, Via Casilina Vecchia 42, Saturdays

On Saturdays, the main room of Circolo degli Artisti turns into a sweaty dancefloor with sometimes a too wide range of music, from indie to classic rock and 80s classics, but traditional anthems for indie kids will always be spinned by Fabio Luzietti, one of the local music gurus. Usually there’s always a concert to anticipate the proper dancing nights, which does not starts before midnight. Drinks, as everywhere in Rome, can be bought anywhere at anytime.
(www.myspace.com/screamadelicaroma)

L-Ektrica
Akab
, Via di Monte Testaccio 68
Main night for this legendary electro drunk mayhem is Tuesday, usually at Akab club, in the heart of Rome borough of Testaccio. Still, depending on events and occasions, the hosting club and the night of the week can vary.
(www.myspace.com/lektrica)

Amigdala
Rising Love, Via delle Conce 14; Dimmi, Via Eurialo 5
The alternative GLBT Friday night in Rome, it happens quite often, but not regularly on weekly basis. Eccentric guys and girls dancing, chatting and spotting occasional art exhibitions at the sound of electronic reinterpretations of urban vibes; indie mash-ups and old-skool can happen too. They have lately launched also the Glamdala spin-off for Saturdays and Shaker Happy Hours.
(www.myspace.com/amigdala
)

Deepsession
Brancaleone, Via Levanna 11; Lanificio 159, Via di Pietralata 159; Le Carrozzerie, Via Della Lega Lombarda 5
On Saturdays, if all you want is power electro noise and fun from the best acts in the world scene, this is the night for you. The likes of MSTRKRFT, Bloody BeetRoots and LA Riots played here. Location can vary from Brancaleone, to Lanificio 159 to LE Carrozzerie.
(www.myspace.com/deepsession)

Popcorn Chic
This is not an event on a regular basis, it’s more an ensemble of stylish people creating events from time to time. You never know what could happen and when, so do not forget to check out their blog
(www.popcornchic.blogspot.com/)

Supermarket
Take a look above: another opportunity to have fun.
(www.myspace.com/supermarketnight)


Venues

Circolo degli Artisti
Via Casilina Vecchia 42
Almost everyone has played here, from most hyped indie acts (Dirty Projectors, Patrick Wolf, Rufus Wainwright, Feist, Au Revoir Simone) to mainstream artists who were looking for a more intimate dimension (Skin from Skunk Anansie or Avril Lavigne); the Circolo has become for them and for all good music fans more than a home. There is gig worth attending almost every night. Gigs start quite late, never before 10pm. Before and after, you can enjoy DJ-sets, have a drink in the outside patio or a pizza in the restaurant next door where pictures of the artists who performed here look at you from the walls. In the summer, you can also take a dive in the outdoor swimming pool.
(www.circoloartisti.it)

Auditorium Parco della Musica
Viale Pietro De Coubertin
The brand new auditorium from a concept of the world-famous architect Renzo Piano is the fascinating location of Cinema Festival in October but also of tons and tons of events all though the year. From local to foreign legends (Bjork and Burt Bacharach) to special event (Animal Collective or Jeff Mills), you can expect everything from the Auditorium schedule, especially in the summer, when the outdoor cavea turns into an amazing stage for world famous acts (from Kings of Convenience to David Byrne).
(www.auditorium.com)

Palalottomattica
Piazzale dello Sport
The biggest – but not the best for sound quality – indoor venue in Rome. It hosts big events, therefore not necessarily nor properly indie. Pearl Jam, Green Day, Dave Matthews Band played here. To note, Oasis played their last roman concert here before the split.
(www.forumnet.it)

Init
Via della Stazione Tuscolana 100
An intimate and small club next door to the Circolo with a very sophisticated schedule that gathers only real connoisseurs (acts like Built To Spill or Akron/Family). In the summer, the gates of the common garden shared with Circolo are open to let you enjoy the best and biggest club in town.
(www.myspace.com/initclubroma)

Piper Club
Via Tagliamento 9
More than a club, the home of 60s rockers and beat guys in Italy. Also Ringo came and danced here after the legendary The Beatles gig in Rome in 1964. Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain walked this stage. It became afterwards a sad glittering disco for upper class students. Only lately it has stepped back again in the live scene for some hot acts like Cat Power, Feist and The Fratellis.
(www.piperclub.it)

Tendastrisce
Via Giorgio Perlasca 69
Sometimes some entertaining names appear on the calendar of his theater (Babyshambles, Editors), but not as much as in the past (The Smiths or Nick Cave).
(www.tendastrisce.it)

Atlantico Palace
Viale dell'Oceano Atlantico 271
Only lately re-opened after years of unknown destiny, this used to be no more than a tent theater that, nonetheless, hosts huge acts at their peak of fame (White Stripes or The Strokes). Look for it but nothing guaranteed so far.
(www.atlanticoroma.it)

Locanda Atlantide
Via dei Lucani 22b
A miscellaneous venue, mainly for dancing nights, but with a late attitude for live music (Noah & The Whale). Worth a visit on the myspace if nothing better is coming up around.
(www.myspace.com/locandatlantide)

Black Out Rock Club
Via Casilina 713
Historic music place lately re-born.
(www.blackoutrockclub.com/concerti.aspx)


Bars


Fanfulla 101

Via Fanfulla Da Lodi 101
Hang around in one of the most alternative locations in Pigneto, one of the coolest emerging boroughs in town: DJ-sets, exhibition and concerts while you enjoy a cheap drink. You must be ARCI member to get in (simply sign and become member at the door).
(www.myspace.com/fanfulla101)

Necci
Via Fanfulla Da Lodi 68
This used to be Pasolini's favourite bar. You can go there and enjoy a post-modern Italy, with furniture that reminds of the late 60s. You can have a drink, a brunch on Sundays or a quick, but very tasteful dinner every night. It’s on the same street as Fanfulla 101, so ideally you can visit both of them in just one evening without going crazy again to find a place to park.
(www.necci1924.com)

Cargo
Via Del Pigneto
In the heart of Pigneto, enjoy the local drink, self-titled “Cargo”, a perfect refresher in hot summer nights out. You’ll always find a huge crowd of students, artists and fashion victims hanging out on the outside of the bar.

Mads
Via dei Sabelli 2
Very nice disco-bar to enjoy drinks and some stuff to eat. Concerts are on schedule almost every night and exhibitions too.
(www.myspace.com/madsprojectmusic)

Micca Club
Via Pietro Micca 7
Fascinating club where you can eat, enjoy a huge variety of drinks or the different night themes that range from burlesque to beat to indie on Sundays. Don’t miss it!
(www.miccaclub.com)

Caffè Letterario
Via Ostiense 95
A good drink a chilled-out atmosphere in wide spaces (something not that often in Rome) surrounded by paintings, books and design.
(www.caffeletterarioroma.it/home.htm)

Salotto 42
Via di Pietra Papa 42
One of the most fascinating in Rome, in Piazza di Pietra. The place is small, not larger than a living room, but the drinks are amazing, the happy hour too, people beautiful, even though quite posh and the background music is as cool as the magazines that surrounds you (Dazed& Confused, Mojo etc). Run by Swedish people now established in Rome.
(www.salotto42.it)

Caffè Fandango
Piazza di Pietra
Very stylish, next door to Salotto 42, but more evolved in concept. It is part of the independent publishing company “Fandango”, which produced the latest wave of hyped Italian cinema (Muccino, above all). Food,drinks & music every night.
(www.caffefandango.net)


Record Shops

 

Rome, and generally Italy, is not a good place to buy CDs: they are very expensive due to a perverse system of taxation. Still there is a good bunch of places to inhale the pleasure of “physical” music.

Discoteca Laziale
Via Mamiani 62
An historic store, somewhere in the middle between a superstore and a specialized shop. The courtesy and the experience of salesmen are a plus of this place very close to Termini station.
(www.discotecalaziale.com)

Just Like Heaven
Via di Torpignattara 53
Very appealing and wide offer comparable to best stores in Europe. The name says it all. Huge catalogue at very good prices.
(www.justlikeheaven.it)

Good Fellas
Via Fortebraccio 20
Indie, wave, avant-garde and ambient specials.
(www.goodfellas.it)


Local Bands

 

Zu
Metal/math/nowave three piece.
(www.myspace.com/zuband)

Velvet
Electro rock four piece.
(www.myspace.com/velvetband
)

Soul Drivers
Electro indie rock five piece.
(www.myspace.com/souldrivers
)

Masoko
Pop foursome.
(www.myspace.com/masoko)


Miscellaneous


Ristoro degli Angeli
Via Luigi Orlando 2
M
uch probably one of the best restaurants in town in the amazing heart of Garbatella borough, it will bring to your senses a unique Roman cuisine mashed up with Mediterranean and fusion suggestions. Every course is totally bio…and you will recognize it by the stunning taste of each mouthful. Exceptional wine list for such a small place. If you are familiar with it, you will likely sit close to politicians, intellectuals and actors.
(www.ristorodegliangeli.it)

Rouge
Via Dei Sabelli 193
Very informal “osteria”, with quite tasteful food and wine, mainly local with some excursions into Mediterranean cuisine. The atmosphere is very informal and arty. It is worth a visit if you’re staying in the surroundings of Termini. Go there for dinner and then discover the borough of San Lorenzo, crowded of students and full of wineries and pubs. Give a call to make a reservation, especially in the weekends.
(roma.2night.it/locali/cena/ristorante/13325/osteria-rouge.html)

Bibli
Via dei Fienaroli 28
The best brunch in town takes place in a book-shop, would you believe it? But Bibli is a must experience: eat wonderful bio food that ranges from lasagna to incredible pancakes with Nutella, surrounded by books and people from the cinema scene in Rome. If you have not eaten too much, indulge in a walk through the narrow streets of Trastevere, to find out the real heart of Rome. Reservations are strictly recommended.
(www.bibli.it)

Urbana47
Via Urbana 47
Named after its address, this is one of the coolest emerging restaurants in town. Drop by for the happy hour, for dinner or for a nice brunch in the weekends. You will appreciate the menu and the furniture (no wonders the chair you’ll be seated on is for sale!). As for all the places above, this is just a starting point to enjoy the wonders of Monti, one of the most beautiful boroughs of town, few meters away from the Coliseum but so close in spirit to Paris Marais.
(www.urbana47.it)

Fraschette on Castelli Romani
Take a step outside Rome to enjoy the real and genuine Roman devotion to food and comrades. 30 minutes drive from Rome center, on Appia road, you will encounter Castelli Romani, a bunch of small towns and villages full of “fraschette”, that’s the name of these extremely informal inns where you can taste the original “porchetta” meat together with other delicious local products and heady wine. Just head to Ariccia village and step by the inn that inspires you the most!
(www.prontocastelli.it)

Main photo © Emma Kruch at Emma Bunny

If you'd like to recommend a club, bar, record shop, band or any indie delight for inclusion in the Indie Travel Guide, please email us. If we've included a link to your band/shop etc, it would be lovely if you could link back to us. Thank you!

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