If you need warming up this season, dont miss nocturnal Rome. Home to over 400 discos and disco-pubs, the city has a vast range of nightlife to suit all tastes. Nights may still be long and cold, but the party spirit is strong.
The best nightclubbing is concentrated in Testaccio and Trastevere. Popular places for eating and hanging out are S. Lorenzo near the main university campus, an area full of pubs and pizzerie to suit a students budget, and the historic centre around Campo de Fiori.
With regard to getting to the clubs, the metro lines A and B are pretty useless: line A shuts at 21.00 for maintenance work, after which there is a bus service along the metro route but only until 23.30, while metro B stops at 23.30. So you will have to rely on the infrequent night buses (only two an hour), find a taxi or use a car. Judging by the number of vehicles that try to jam into all these areas at night, the car is about as indispensable for the nightclubber as the music. However, note that the areas of the city centre closed to unauthorised traffic during the day, known as the ZTL (zona traffico limitato), are now also off-limits on Friday and Saturday nights 23.00-03.00.
This area is home to over 20 fashionable discos and disco-bars that kick into action after midnight. A few clubs not to miss are:
Alpheus: A large and popular nightclub with something for everyone. Activities during the week include concerts, theatre performances, cabaret and theme parties. Different rooms offer a mix of music including Latin, Caribbean, ethnic, blues, jazz and soul. Open Tues-Sun, 10.00-04.00. Admission varies according to the event. Via del Commercio 36, tel. 065747826. www.alpheus.it.
Coyote: Ideal for the young, cash-strapped generation, it has a spacious indoor bar and a long staircase for chilling out or dancing to a mix of hip-hop and the latest house music. Drinks start from e5. Open daily, 21.30-05.00. Admission free. Via di Monte Testaccio 48b, tel. 339/8721836.
Goa: A trendy club located just outside Testaccio in the Ostiense area, it plays house, hip-hop and tribal music to a backdrop of slide projections, exotic artefacts and incense. Tuesday is gay night, while Thursday evenings are also popular. Drinks cost e5-e10. The club has wheelchair access and accepts credit cards. Open Tues-Sun, 23.00-04.00. Admission e15-e20 (first drink free). Via Libetta 13, tel. 065748277.
Other clubs worth checking out in this area are Zoo bar, Via di Monte Testaccio 22, tel. 339/2727995; Alibi (gay-friendly), Via di Monte Testaccio 40, tel. 065743448; Akab-Cave, Via di Monte Testaccio 68-9, tel. 065782390; and Caff Latino (popular with locals), Via di Monte Testaccio 96, tel. 0657288794.
Bali Oriental Pub: Ideal for a cool, relaxed yet romantic evening. A range of cocktails and beer available. Open Mon-Sat, 21.30-02.00. Admission free. Via del Mattonato 29, tel. 065896089.
Big Mama: Offers daily jazz, rock and singer-songwriter concerts, but it is especially famed for its blues. Open Tues-Sun, 21.00-01.30. Admission e8 for a monthly membership card, e13 for the year. Via di S. Francesco a Ripa 18, tel. 065812551. www.bigmama.it.
Full Moon Wolf Riders Den: Hosts heavy metal and hard-rock nights with occasional Celtic-themed evenings. Open Tues-Sun, 21.30-02.30 (Sat 21.30-04.30). Admission free. Via Luigi Santini 12, tel. 339/8996534, 347/3011753. www.fullmoon.turn.to.
Transilvania horror rock Kaf: The best club for rock nights in classical horror style. Beer flows from skulls and tombstones and walls are decorated with spiders webs. Open daily from 21.00. Admission free. Via Cardinal Merry Del Val 13/a. www.transilvania.it.
3. S. Lorenzo
Balic: A restaurant/pub where you can enjoy Mediterranean cuisine in an ethnic atmosphere. On Fri and Sat there are disco nights playing house and pop music. Open daily, 20.30-03.30. Admission free. Via degli Aurunci 35, tel. 0697612428. www.infobalic.it.
Circolo Vizioso: A disco-pub on two floors where you can enjoy Italian dishes and dance to pop and R&B/hip-hop music. It occasionally hosts concerts, art exhibitions and theatre shows. Open daily, 20.30-03.00. Admission e6 for one-year membership. Via dei Reti 25, tel. 347/8146544.
Mais Caf: Mexican-style pub offering cocktails, draught and bottled beers. Happy hour 19.00-21.30. Open Mon-Sat, 20.00-02.00. Admission free. Via di Porta Labicana 52, tel. 064456962.
Skyline: Disco-pub with an interior dcor of steel military designs. Music depends on evening. Open Tues-Sun, 10.30-03.00. Admission free. Via degli Aurunci 26-28, tel. 06440817.
4. Historic Centre
Most bars and disco-pubs in this area open early in the evening for drinks or aperitivi, which often come with buffet-style finger food.
There are a whole host of pubs popular with the young international crowd including The Druids Den, Via S. Martino ai Monti 28, tel. 0648904781; The Drunken Ship, Piazza Campo de Fiori 20/21, tel. 0668300535; The Fiddler's Elbow, Via dell Olmata 43, tel. 064872110; Finnegan Irish Pub, Via Leonina 66-67, tel. 064747026; Abbey Theatre, Via del Governo Vecchio 51-53, tel. 066861341;Scholars Lounge, Via del Plebiscito 101/b, tel. 0669202208.
Anima: Interior dcor of settee seats, beds and tyres. Music is funk, ethnic, Asian beats, chill-out and live acts on weekends. Aperitifs are served 18.00-22.00. Open daily, 18.00-04.00. Admission free. Via S. Maria dell Anima 57, tel. 066864021.
Baja: Located on a large boat on the Tiber. Arguably the most happening club for Erasmus students on Monday nights (open bar). The rest of the week is also lively, with a mix of ethno-house and hip-hop music and a wide variety of international beers and cocktails. Open daily, 23.00-04.00. Admission e10-e15. Lungotevere A. da Brescia (Ponte Margherita), tel. 0632600118.
Gilda: Smart and elegant club with two dance floors where disco music is played. Also has a good piano bar. Food served until midnight, jackets required for men. Admission e20 (first drink free). Thurs-Tues, 23.30-04.00; Weds closed. Via Mario deFiori 97, tel. 066784838.
La Maison: Elegant and exclusive club housed in a 19th-century theatre tucked away in a backstreet near Piazza Navona. Notoriously difficult to get into and hard to get hold of by telephone. Vicolo dei Granari 4, tel. 066833312.
Siena Art Caf: Happy disco in trendy surroundings near Villa Borghese. Admission free. Drinks e10-e20. Open Tues, Fri and Sat, 23.30-05.00. Viale del Galoppatoio 33, tel. 0636006578.
Supper club: A classy club in a beautifully restored 17th-century mansion offering an array of drinks including beers, cocktails and champagne specialities. Plays lounge, electro-jazz and house music. Open daily 19.00-03.00. Admission free. Via dei Nari 14, tel. 0668807207. www.supperclub.com.
Other clubs in areas not listed above include Qube, which often hosts concerts, Via Portonaccio 212 (Tiburtina area), tel. 064385445, and Piper (one of the oldest clubs in Rome), Via Tagliamento 9 (Nomentana area), tel. 068555398. For live cover-band music every night you could try Geronimos Pub, Via Appia Vecchia Sede 57 (S. Maria delle Mole). You need a car to get there but it is worth it for the classic American-biker bar. For monthly band schedule tel. 069309344 or see www.geronimospub.com.
The list of clubs is inexhaustible and you might never conquer all that Rome has to offer. See www.wantedinrome.com / whats on / clubs, for the latest news on events and pub-crawls. Useful websites in Italian include www.inroma.it, www.romadisconight.com, www.2night.it, www.romaexplorer.it. Research for this article by Joanna Braman, Denise Ko and Ludovico Maloba.