26-28 Piazza del Fico
Tel: 39 06 686 5205
At any time on a balmy evening you'll have your work cut out to beat the fashionistas competing for tables beneath the ancient fig tree that gives its name to this square and its French bistro-style bar. Along with the Bar della Pace just around the corner, this has been the place for the smart set for decades.
Open daily 8:30 am to 2 am.
3-7 Via della Pace
Tel: 39 06 686 1216
Dark wooden fittings and huge vases of flowers give the interior of this eternally trendy bar the feel of a welcoming private club, but the beautiful people who flock here (and their spotters) rarely go through the door, preferring to bag a table beneath the ivy-clad facade. It's a pricey pleasureyou pay over the odds for this kind of ringside seatbut if you want to sport your designer duds and shades in the coolest of company, this is where to do it.
64 Via di Monte Testaccio
Tel: 39 06 4544 7627
So '60s Space Age is this stunningly white club that you might not even notice that you're in a cavern dug into a heap of ancient amphora shards. But that's what Monte Testaccio is. There's nothing ancient about the music, which ranges from electronica to hip-hop and R&B, with visits from big-name DJs. There's a garden too, but as Fake closes from June to September, there's little chance to appreciate it.
Open Wed, Thur 11:30 p.m.–4 a.m.; Fri, Sat midnight–4 a.m.; Sun 7 p.m.–2 a.m.
4-6 Via Politeama
Tel: 39 06 5833 4210
In a former mechanic's workshop on the river bank in Trastevere, "Brakes and Clutches" starts heating up soon after opening time (6 pm), when peckish locals descend on a table groaning with free aperitivo nibbles. Its denizens are young and boho-chic, the ambience laid-back and friendly. When the bar gets too crowded, the little square outside becomes an extension of the venue.
Open daily 6 pm to 2 am.
13 Via Libetta
Tel: 39 06 574 8277
When Leo and crew were in Rome to shoot Gangs of New York, they came to Goa postfilming to let off steam. The ethno-chic club in the down-at-heel-looking but definitely up-and-coming Ostiense district is still going strong. Housed in a huge garage, Goa draws some of the world's best DJs to mix hip-hop, house, and tribal sounds.
Open Tues–Sun 11 p.m.–5 a.m.
3 Vicolo dei Granari
Tel: 39 06 683 3312
You may have some trouble getting past the obnoxious doormen, which only enhances the pleasure and surprise if you're successful. Because, despite being the disco of choice for what looks like a very snooty crowd, La Maison plays great lounge and R&B music in a decidedly welcoming ambience of dark red walls and comfy sofas. It's very elegant; make sure you are too, or you'll never get in.
Open Tue–Thur, Sun 11 p.m.–3:30 a.m.; Fri, Sat midnight–5 a.m.
15 Campo de' Fiori
Tel: 39 06 6880 3268
Campo de' Fiori is one big drinking spot, but this wine bar was the first, and remains the best. While rowdy groups of visiting students pile into the other drinking holes, locals mix with visitors in La Vineria's bottle-lined interior or grab tables outside to watch the antics in this ever-bustling square. Perfectly acceptable wine starts at about $1.90 a glass. Pre-dinner, the clientele consists of busy locals grabbing a glass with friends on their way home from work; as the evening wears on, the scene gets slightly seedier but remains lively.
Open Mon–Sat 9 a.m.–2 a.m.
7A Via Pietro Micca
Tel: 39 06 8744 0079
Micca Club is in an immense underground space in a residential district not far from the basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano. The program is all-encompassing, ranging from themed nights (including toga parties, of course) to guest DJ visits. A vintage clothes and bric-a-brac market on Sunday evening gives way to jazz and other live acts later. You need to sign the online guest book in order to get in.
Open Thursdays through Saturdays 10 pm to 3 am; Sundays 6 pm to 3 am.
6 Via degli Specchi
Tel: 39 06 683 8989
You're only here for the beer—but it's no ordinary brew. This designer beer bar (please don't call it a pub) just off Via Arenula offers up to 40 selections on tap and more than 100 by the bottle. Many come from Italy's burgeoning army of small artisanal breweries, such as Piedmont's Baladin, which runs the place (try Baladin's Erika, flavored with heather honey). Downstairs is the lively main room, with its impressive "beer library"; upstairs, you'll find a series of more intimate rooms, with shabby chic armchairs and sofas for lounging. Dining options consist of fancy comfort food: licorice potato chips (oddly delicious), organic beef hamburgers, fresh mozzarella, and Piedmontese beef tartare. Service is friendly but on the slow side.
Open daily noon to 2 am.
42 Piazza di Pietra
Tel: 39 06 678 5804
A growing Roman craze for book bars started here, in this elegant space right off Via del Corso. Select one of the glossy art books from the shelves and peruse it in a deep sofa or armchair while consuming nibbles from the early-evening buffet. The cool factor cranks up when the nighttime cocktail crowd arrives—as does the ambient soundtrack, sometimes deafeningly so.
Open Tue–Sat 10 a.m.–2 a.m.; Sun 10 a.m.–midnight.
17 Piazza Montevecchio
Tel: 39 06 6830 1472
It's no easy task finding this bar in a tiny square off Via dei Coronari. You'll know when you do, though: Piazza Montevecchio is an extension of the place, and the alternative, artsy crowd spills out across the square (much to the annoyance of neighbors, who have been known to throw water over rowdy revelers). Well-mixed cocktails, a small but good selection of wines by the glass, a large aperitivo buffet, and a decidedly relaxed vibe make this a great place to kill a couple of hours.
Open daily 6 p.m.2 a.m.