Looking for the most relaxing places to sip an aperitivo in the Eternal City? Look no further than Rome's most stunning (and welcoming) piazzas!
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*Updated, July, 2019
One of the most enjoyable parts of a trip to Rome is whiling away a long, late evening with a few cocktails in one of the city's stunning piazzas. Depending on where you select, you may find cafes and tourists, or perhaps a more "local" scene, chalk-full of ordinary Romans catching up with friends.
The Classic: Piazza Navona
Undoubtedly one of the most breath-taking piazzas in Rome, Piazza Navona is certainly one of the most storied. Begun as the Stadium of Domitian, you can still see the defined oval shaping that once demarcated the stadium's boundaries. In the Renaissance, already a public space, the Piazza received an extreme make-over at the hands of Pope Innocent X, whose ancestral home loomed large above the square.
The Piazza is actually home to three fountains, though the Fontana dei Quattro Fuimi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) is certainly the most famous. In perhaps the most awesome of all festivals, for nearly 200 years (1652-1866), the Piazza was regularly flooded on summer weekends for over-the-top boat displays, funded by the Pamphilis (family of the aforementioned Pope Innocent X).
These days, you'll find a fair number of tourists admiring the stunning fountains, along with several charming cafes, where you are welcome to have a sit, grab a cocktail, and watch the crowds! I vastly prefer the Piazza at night, when the crowds are more relaxed, the heat of the day is gone, and the dinner rush has ended. While I hate to paint with a broad brush, of course the restaurants in this highly touristy area are less likely to be "the best" - but definitely stop by for a quick drink!
The Quirky: Fontana delle Tartarughe
What's not to love about the Fontana delle Tartarughe - yes, the Turtle Fountain! Older than the 4 Rivers over at Piazza Navona, Fontana delle Tartarughe was completed in 1588 - a late Renaissance masterpiece.
Fontana delle Tartarughe is surprisingly tiny and uncrowded. I'll admit that we actually stumbled upon it, after poking around for a while. We grabbed a nice drink (and the inevitable bathroom break after our trip walking all the way to the Vatican!) at the conveniently named Le Tartarughe Eat & Drink, nearby.
The Local: Piazza della Madonna di Monti
Piazza della Madonna di Monti is, without a doubt, my favorite spot in all of Rome.
And, perhaps most specially, we stumbled across it completely unwittingly, on one of our first days in the city. It wasn't terribly far from our hotel and we were, you guessed it, lost (the first of many times!). Trying to navigate our way back, with a literal compass, we stumbled upon a group of people in the Piazza.
Though, I came to find later, it has been profiled in the New York Times, Madonna di Monti has managed to remain one of the most unspoiled piazzas in Rome. Here, you'll find locals, young and old, having a cocktail, and you'll hear very little (if any) English/German/French, etc.
One of the little restaurants serves as a take-out bar - with seemingly endless wine, beer, and apertivos meant to be carried into the piazza. When you're looking at the piazza, it's the back end of the piazza directly behind the fountain, slightly to the right of it. You won't need these directions - it's the one with people streaming in and out of it constantly!
If a sit-down restaurant is more your style, several restaurants line the piazza - or grab some delicious, casual take-out at Pronto, the Italian version of Pret a Manger, to enjoy in the piazza.
The Historic: Piazza della Rotonda
How gorgeous is that name? Rome's incredible Pantheon is magical any time of day. And, I'm sure you'll visit this most well-preserved Roman building, turned church, during the day as a major part of your tourist agenda!
But, don't forget to stop by the phenomenal Piazza della Rotonda after hours, when the square is packed with Romans enjoying their evening. The Pantheon is certainly shown to best advantage when alight with spotlights and the moon. It's definitely a bit more "touristy" than some of the others on this list, just because it's so centrally located, and surrounding such a major tourist attraction. You'll see your fair share of people selling trinkets, etc., but don't let that deter you from exploring Piazza della Rotonda at night. And, of course, it's far less touristy at night than during the day!
There are several lovely restaurants around this area as well, including the classic Da Armando al Pantheon, a Roman staple. Sitting outside enjoying dinner overlooking the moon-lit Pantheon simply must be on your Rome to-do list.
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Have a lovely trip to Roma - I hope you'll enjoy drinking in Rome's piazzas as much as we did! xx
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