Rome’s music bars and clubs span everything from rock and classical to jazz and blues. Gina Tringali selects her 10 greatest hits
This article written for, and republished from here
Teatro dell’Opera di Roma
In the country where every person can recite the lyrics to Verdi’s “Va Pensiero”, opera is a way of life. From its opening in 1880, the Teatro dell’Opera has undergone many architectural alterations always with particular attention to the acoustics. In fact, the legendary acoustics are on par with top auditoriums around the world. The present house seats 1,600 opera fanatics in its red-and-gold-gilded interior. Productions are based here from November to May and then move outdoors amids the ruins of Terme di Caracalla for the summer season. The best-preserved imperial Roman baths in the city make for a mesmerising backdrop to the resonating sopranos and baritones of La Bohème, Aida and Tosca.
• Teatro dell’Opera, Piazza Beniamino Gigli, 7, +39 06 481 60255, www.operaroma.it
Photograph: Xaero/flickr on flickr / All rights reservedImmortalised in one of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s movies, the Pigneto quarter of Rome is home to Fanfulla. A meeting place buzzing with 30-something hipsters wearing black high-top converse trainers, the association is dedicated to promoting culture through cinema, theatre, photography and independent music. A corner bar, scattered books, football tables, cushy sofas and armchairs create an appropriate atmopshere for a crowd who come to see indie acts, DJ sets from all over Europe, and video artists.
• Via Fanfulla da Lodi, 101, fanfulla.org
Sinister Noise Club
Photograph: silviaths on Flickr/Some rights reservedOpen since 2006, this (literally and figuratively) underground club showcases emerging local and international bands. On the minuscule basement stage, you’ll see everything from live DJ sets, rock and indie to folk and alternative. The ground floor bar is fitted out with retro-psychedelic walls, cinema paraphernalia and leather sofas. Head downstairs to discover the latest breakthrough artists on the Italian rock scene, or if you’d rather snag a barstool and a locally crafted beer on tap, head upstairs and mix with the 20-something locals.
• Via dei Magazzini Generali, 4b, +39 333 803 1096 (mobile) sinisternoise.com; Open Tue-Sun 7pm-2am (open on Mon for special events)
Casa del Jazz
Photograph: Vetesda on Flickr / All rights reservedOn the same spot where – until a few years ago – shady deals were closed, you can now see jazz musicians play as if their lives depend on it. Thanks to an Italian law that reclaims assets from the mafia, the 1920s villa of boss Enrico Nicoletti was confiscated in 2005 and transformed into the multifaceted Casa del Jazz. Dedicated to the every jazz genre from Dixieland to fusion, the complex houses a 144-seat auditorium with cutting-edge acoustics, a recording and rehearsal studio, book and record store and restaurant. Summertime concerts take place in the garden under towering Roman pine trees. Add to that an alfresco dinner at the restaurant and you’ll have your perfect Starry Starry Night.
• Viale di Porta Ardeatina, 55, +39 06 704731, casajazz.it
Circolo degli Artisti
Photograph: Lucio Farinelli on Flickr/Some rights reservedOver 20 years old but nothing like your wannabe cool uncle, “Il Circolo” is a well-respected and internationally recognised club. It has welcomed performers like Glasvegas, Carmen Consoli, Kruder & Dorfmeister and Patti Smith. Situated in the progressive area of Pigneto, the scene is alluring. Watch an eccentric crowd in the massive garden under Roman aqueducts where you’re just as likely to nosh on pizza served from the wood-fired oven while taking in a fashion show set to punk music as you are to dance to electronic, indie or international music.
• Via Casalina Vecchia 42, +39 06 703 05684, circoloartisti.it
CelimontanaThis centrally located park is a stone’s throw away from the Colosseum. One of Rome’s most beautiful and ancient outdoor spaces, it is converted into a stunning open air concert venue from 1 July 1 to 12 August. Most famous for jazz, this year the artistic director has diversified the lineup to include contemporary art, theatre, music, poetry and dance. Whether you like tango, the saxophone or want to immerse yourself in traditional Neapolitan folk songs, this is the place to pull up a chair under a midnight blue sky, sip on a campari soda and watch the bella gente pass by.
• Via Alessandro Poerio, 112, +39 06 583 35781, villacelimontanajazz.com
Beba do Samba
Photograph: Fronte Popolare per la Musica Libera on Flickr/Some rights reservedInspired by a Brazilian holiday, the founders of this cultural association-cum-eclectic club created Beba in 2002. Since then, some 2,000 live performances of Brazilian, world, blues, jazz and punk music have aired in this cozy locale where beer kegs function as bar stools. Throngs of sweaty young italians sway to sultry Brazilian beats , and, fittingly, caprihinas and seasonal fruit cocktails are the beverages of choice.
• Via dei Messapi, 8 (Piazza Campani), +39 328 575 0390 (mobile), bebadosamba.it
IUC (Istituzione Universitaria Concerti)
After the second world war, Roman cultural life resumed its solitary course. At La Sapienza University, a group of young musicians decided to stir things up by creating a circle for students, professors and Romans who had never set foot in a concert hall. This insiders’ classical music hall at the prestigious university features classical music from October to June. Many music prodigies, geniuses and stars have performed on this stage which is dwarfed by a mural by Mario Sironi, a groundbreaking painter in the 1930s.
• Lungotevere Flaminio 50, +39 06 361 0051, concertiiuc.it
Photograph: Federica De Angelis on Flickr/All rights reservedThis historical club is a scene in itself. DJ sets, rock, underground, electronic and indie music flood the spartan decorated main room and dance floor. Great views of the stage are had by all. If live music isn’t your thing, chill out in the surreal outdoor bar under the Felice aqueduct where punks, indie girls and eccentric locals set the vibe.
• Via della Tuscolana, 133, +39 06 9727 7724, initroma.com
Photograph: Ilaria Magliocchetti LombiDon’t judge this venue solely by its too-obvious name, because Big Mama is far from your average blues joint. Besides the familiar 12-bar sequences, it’s a place to enjoy jazz, rock and all sorts of interesting crossovers. Since its inception 27 years ago, musicians from all over the world have graced the stage. Among the ever-growing Hall of Fame, rank legends such as Chet Baker, Jeff Healey and Hiram Bullock. Big Mama values her national stars as well, with Pino Daniele and Stefano Di Battista as two front men. Tucked away in a side street of tourist-trotted Trastevere, the intimate basement only seats 50 people. If you want to ensure a table, book ahead. An annual membership card (€14) or monthly membership card (€8) must be purchased at the door and gives free admission to most shows.
• Vicolo San Francesco a Ripa 18, +39 06 581 2551, bigmama.it; Mon-Sat 9pm to 1.30am (closed July-Sep)