I was born in Puglia, lived most of my life near Florence, but my preferred city in Italy is Rome, mainly because it is more enjoyable as tourist than Florence or Venice. An espresso in Florence can cost up to €5 served at the table. In Piazza Navona in Rome I have been charged €1.
In summer Rome’s most beautiful piazzas provide the backdrop for a programme of concerts for vocal quartets. Songs from the Roman repertoire and opera arias, with intermezzos on the piano will take tourists on a magical journey through the history of music drama and the best-loved classics of the Italian repertoire.
Find details, plus restaurant and hotel ideas, at en.turismoroma.it
Charming little bookshop filled to the ceiling with hard to find scores and music books. Don't be fooled by its size, they even host a grand piano. The back room is both a cafè serving gourmet coffee drinks and wine, and a miniature concert hall displaying the work of local artists. Also noticed for their one-of-a-kind recycled and handpainted furnitures and off-beat concerts with a cult following. Concerts draw the attraction of hundreds including famous personalities from the neighbourhood, despite the shop seating about 50 people. Located in Trastevere and not hard to find, just look for the crowd gathering on the doorsteps and listening to live music from street at night.
Via di San Francesco a Ripa, 60
If you're in Rome make sure you take a day or afternoon trip out to Ostia Antica (30 mins by train). It was the ancient port city of the Roman Empire & when the river silted up it was abandoned and the silt preserved the city beautifully. What's left is a huge ghost-town several miles inland with amphitheatre, apartment blocks, forum, bath houses and villas.
You can enter and walk around most buildings - even go upstairs and walk in gardens - and there are few of the restrictions you'll find in Pompeii. We went on a Sunday afternoon and the place was spookily almost deserted.
In the summer, the amphitheatre often hosts open air performances of folk and opera. A real find. Plus you can round off the day with a swim with the surf girls and boys at Rome's funky beach suburb, Ostia, a train stop away at Lido Centro.
Take the (very shabby)overland from Piramide/ Ostiense towards C. Colombo or Lido Centro. Costs about 3 Euros.
Subbass is a bar - only opens Fridays. It's smokey chaotic with live music being played by whoever decides to join in this spontaneous acoustic "thing". Clientele is made up of locals and expats from UK, US, NZ, Australia. It stays open till the last client leaves which is usually at the break of dawn. Only Japanese beer is sold and there's not a huge variety of alcohol brands but on average all tastes are satisfied. The atmosphere within is definitely worth a visit. Ring at the doorbell, it's not guaranteed that someone will open. Prices are low and service erratic but nonetheless it's worth a visit. Some evenings are quiet many others are a complete delirium.
Via della vetrina 7 - near Piazza Navona
At night, Rome’s young intellectuals fill the city’s Centri Sociali, or social centres. These clubs and bars, many of which show films, host DJs and run dance or theatrical performances, began life as squats in run-down public buildings. Today there are ten or so in Rome, located in old schools, factories and warehouses. Brancaleone, on Via Levanna, is a particularly well-run one, with a cinema, café, shop selling organic goods and a variety of musical offerings. Go on Friday for the electronic vibe, Roman-style, or on Saturday for house.
Via Levanna 11, Montesacro, Rome www.brancaleone.it
In a converted warehouse, with a glass floor seaparating the upstairs and downstairs bars, so women may want to dress to protect their modesty. Electro on Fridays, house on Saturdays - but worth the entry fee just to watch the brilliant parade of Italian peacocks and princesses.
Ex-Magazzini, 8/Bis Via dei Magazzini Generali, 7.30pm-4.30am (Fri-Sat), entrance 7 euros.
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