There’s many things I love and miss about going to school in Wisconsin; from the beautiful campus to the raging school spirit, I’m going to miss Madison when I graduate next year to no end. My alma mater is famous not only for its seasoned academic programs but one thing in particular: you guessed it, its party-school reputation. Frequently coming in first place of the Princeton Review’s Top Party School rankings, there is definitely a thriving nightlife in Madison. Coming to Rome, I expected nothing less than an equally, if not more exciting nightlife, and I was not let down.
There’s much more freedom in Rome when going out when compared to the U.S., at least for me. I’m not 21 yet, but to get into most bars and clubs in Rome, you only have to be 18. IDs are rarely checked, unless you are trying to get into somewhere extremely popular. To purchase alcohol you must be 18, but the drinking age is pretty lax. Italy doesn’t have open container laws, similar to other countries in Europe, meaning you can literally walk around with open alcoholic drinks. It’s very common for people to grab a drink inside the bar and take it to-go. Some areas prohibit glass bottles or selling to-go drinks after a certain time, but it is uniquely Italian to see people pre-gaming with bottles of wine by the Trevi Fountain. Wine here is also noticeably cheaper than in the U.S; you can usually snag a decently good bottle for around €4 or €5 at the grocery store.
At many of the local bars in Trastevere, you can find student specials on drinks, as well as bars flooded with college students. Trastevere streets are jam-packed with young students chatting, smoking, and drinking outside the bar when the weather gets nice out. While mostly all bars are free to get into, clubs can sometimes have a cover charge. Here is a list of my favorite places to go out in Rome so far, including and excluding the Trastevere area:
- Akab Club
Akab is located in the Testaccio area, where you’ll find an abundance of clubs on ones street offering everything from Latin music to live DJs and performers. Many local Italian students like to go out in this area, and it’s obvious why: Akab plays mostly American music and features a stage with professional dancers performing every night. There’s a cover charge of €10, which includes one drink. This place is packed with Italians and Americans alike, and although it’s smaller than your typical club, it’s my favorite that I’ve been to so far.
- Art Café/Babel
I’m confused as to why these two clubs are considered separate entities, although they are in reality the same thing. Ask a cab driver to take you to either, and you’ll end up at the same former-now-abandoned train station. Head down a long flight of stairs to arrive at this club that’s considered by some to be the best in Rome. Cover charge is a standard €10 with one drink, and it’s relatively large. Colorful, changing overhead lights across the various bars and sections of the dance floor contribute to the Euro club atmosphere. Although it’s a little out of the way of Trastevere, and will definitely require a cab ride to and from, it’s absolutely worth going to if you’re looking for a fun night dancing.
- ShariVari Playhouse
ShariVari is a club well-known for being the “American” club; that is, many study abroad students flock to Shari because of its no-cover charge policy and the fact that it’s open most weekdays (unlike other clubs that are exclusively open Thursday through Saturday.) Drinks are on the pricey side, although there is no charge at the door. This is one of the biggest clubs space wise; it features many different rooms and floors each playing different music, as well as an upstairs VIP lounge and a huge basement styled like a cave. The club also has photographers on certain days, and you just might find your picture on their Facebook page the morning after. I’m a fan of Shari because of the combination of American music and a European club vibe.
- Sloppy Sam’s (bar)
Although Sloppy Sam’s (sadly) closed temporarily for renovation during February, I still managed to go quite a few times before it closed its doors. Sloppy Sam’s is any American student’s dream, offering beer pong tables, flipcup, and a bright blue drink special called the “John Cabot” which tastes like a Malibu Bay Breeze. It’s always filled with JCU students looking for a taste of home, and offers discounts with your JCU ID.
- Scholar’s Irish Pub (bar)
Scholar’s offers fun theme nights such as Trivia night on Fridays, and cover bands on the weekends. My personal favorite is Karaoke Night every Tuesday and Wednesday, where you can get up on stage with a friend and show off your karaoke skills-you might have to wait a while in line, as it gets pretty crowded around midnight.
- G-Bar (bar)
G-Bar is just down the street from Sloppy’s and is another popular bar among JCU students. It has cheap drinks (think €1 shots on Wednesdays, and €5 all-you-can drink Fridays for girls) but is always extremely crowded. It’s best to get a drink to-go from here and hang outside.
- Cioccolata e Vino (bar)
Cioccolata e Vino isn’t a typical bar but specializes in one thing only: unique liquor shots served in shot glasses made out of chocolate, topped with whipped cream and even more chocolate shavings. The shots have *interesting* names (which you’ll have to see for yourself), and it’s almost as fun to order them as it is to eat them. A must-stop if you’re in Trastevere at night.
A night out is almost always followed by a stop at Pizza Trilussa, located about three steps from Sloppy Sam’s. They have delicious pizza at any time of day, but more importantly at late hours of the night. The latest I’ve been there was after 3, but according to a server, the pizzeria closes either when people stop coming or when they’re out of pizza. You can get a pretty good discount with a JCU ID, and their pizza is some of the best in Trastevere.
So there you have some of my favorite places to go out after a long week of classes; whether you want more of a chill bar or a club feel, Rome has some of the best nightlife in the world where everyone can find what they’re looking for. Don’t miss out!