It’s a fact that in Rome you’ll drink very good coffee everywhere. Italians pay more than the proper attention to their favourite habit. They might have a day without pizza, pasta or gelato, but several cups of quality caffè are necessary. So, your only dilemma will be what establishment would you like to drink your coffee at. Elegant, historic environs with antiques, velvet and chandeliers or the counter of a busy, vivid and crowded place? A grand, magnificent square or a quiet alley with a few tables on the pavement? The following list includes all kinds of cafes. Through the years and with each visit, I’ve loved all of them, each for a different reason, besides the excellent coffee.
1. Sant΄ Eustachio il Café Nested in Piazza Sant’ Eustacchio, where it gets its name from, this original and simple coffee bar holds the secret recipe for the tastier coffee in the Italian capital since 1938. Order their famous Gran cappuccino or Gran café in order to enjoy Rome’s best cappuccino! Locals stand by the counter inside and tourists wait patiently for one of the few sought after tables outside. The menu has a long list of equally good coffee specialties, like the Tiramisu or Romeo e Giulietta, there’s a selection of sweet treats and you should also check out their own signature selection of coffee accessories.
2. Tazza d’ Oro You’ll read about it everywhere, so you have to see it for yourself and i’m sure you’ll agree 100% : Tazza d’ Oro, a historic coffee house since 1944, serves espresso and other types of coffee of the very best quality. Start your day the Italian way and follow the crowds of locals and tourists who gather for the first espresso of the day, or make a quick stop any time of day to enjoy an exquisite blend, or buy some freshly roasted coffee to enjoy home. There is a bar with very quick service to enjoy your cup standing up or sitting at one of two benches. Also worth trying is their frozen coffee ( something like a sorbet called granita di caffe ) served in a small cup and topped with lots of whipped cream! You will also find all sorts of coffee making equipment and accessories and a big selection of tea flavours. Even though the café is situated in a very touristic area, literally a few steps from Pantheon, prices are really low.
3. Giolitti Two are the reasons you will come to this elegant, old fashioned cafe. Coffee and ice cream. Strategically located between Piazza della Rotonda and Piazza di Montecitorio and almost opposite the Italian parliament, it’s one of Romans’ favorite cafes. In the morning it’s full of politicians and as time goes by it becomes full of tourists who leave with an ice cream in hand.
” Indeed at Giolitti they make some of the best gelato in Rome and delicious sweets to enjoy with your coffee. “
My advice is to go twice: once for a cup of coffee together with a selection of small, traditional sweets, like savarin with rum, cannoli or cassatinas and once more for their superb gelato.
4. Chiostro del Bramante caffé and bistrot How about enjoying you coffee at an architectural Renaissance treasure? In Bramante’s cloister which used to be part of a monastery adjacent to the church of Santa Maria della Pace, you can have a relaxing, peaceful break in the most harmonious and elegant environs you could hope for. On the cloister’s upper level you will sit among Corinthian pilasters at the base of which stone seats once used by the monks as places to sit, read and relax, will now be the place to sit back and enjoy your coffee, tea, a refreshment, even breakfast or a light meal. The view to the spacious four arched portico is incomparable, especially with the constant change of light and shadow and sometimes you also have the chance to see temporary exhibitions of contemporary art in the bistrot area.
5. L’Emporio alla Pace On the other edge of the same, picturesque street that the previous café is located, the scenery changes completely in the small, relaxed, lively and bohemian space of Emporio alla Pace, where everyone’s welcome at all hours. There’s a library opposite the bar so that you can spend some time reading while drinking your coffee, while the arched space in the back with mix n’ match furniture is dominated by a modern fresco and an old, red, velvet sofa. The whole setting is casual and carefree, true to the spirit of the area around Piazza Navona.
6. Vivi Bistrot It’s true that the cafés on Piazza Navona offer unobstructed view to one of Rome’s most magnificent sceneries, but they suffer from too many tourists and prices are too high. Act smart, after wandering around the piazza head to Palazzo Braschi which houses the City’s Museum. From its café’s paved yard you’ll enjoy views towards the piazza from an interesting perspective, especially through the huge, wooden door’s frame. Inside, the bar is always full of those on a quick coffee break, while the beautiful tables, decorated with fresh flowers and candles, are ideal for a sweet treat, or a light, healthy meal. Special tip: you may also go for an aperitivo when the yard is lit by candle light.
7. VyTA Situated in one of the most privileged locations, on the corner of elegant Piazza Farnese, this café’s biggest advantage is that it offers the best view of the square and what is considered Rome’s most exquisite Renaissance palace. The modern interior combines green marble floors and emerald walls, but try to get a table outside to enjoy the dreamy scenery. An extra point is the really reasonable prices, rather unusual for cafés located on the Roman piazzas. Don’t forget to order their tasty waffles too, either with chocolate or cream they’re equally delicious. Campo de’ Fiori is only a minute away, so you might as well combine a walk in the market with a coffee break at VyTA.
8. Café Roscioli One of the four establishments of the Roscioli family, who master the art of catering for more than a century. Standing along the counter of this small café you will be served the perfect espresso or cappuccino with professionalism and grace, while you’ll be gazing the sweets on display, trying to choose which one to try. Not an easy job it turns out, as the selection is big and all bite sized sweets are little masterpieces. Anything you try is guaranteed to be fresh, light and delicious. A café you’ll keep coming back to every time you visit the area of Campo de’ Fiori.
9. Cafffe Camerino The “café with the triple f”, is the slogan of this simple café. With it’s rather touristic looks and the not too charming location, you could easily pass it by. But, as it’s right on Largo Arenula, one of the busiest transport hubs, it’s perfect for a cheap, well-made and professionally served coffee before catching the bus.
The interior is also more appealing than you’d expect thanks for the lively atmosphere of locals who come and go non-stop, but their biggest asset are the delicious small sweets!
” Try the tarlets with cream and fresh strawberries and see if you can restrain yourself to only one…”
10. Antico Caffé Greco The oldest café in Rome and one of the most famous in Italy. In operation since 1760, when it was founded by a Greek from whom it took its name from. Its central location near Piazza di Spagna, the most popular Roman piazza at the time, soon turned the café into the most famous’ artists and writers meeting place.
Lord Byron, John Keats, Franz Liszt, Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Dickens, Orson Welles and many more were regular patrons and many of the café’s furniture previously belonged to them. Indeed, entering this café feels more like entering a museum and certainly takes you back to the most elegant side of a past era. The café is still found in its original location, on Via dei Condotti, Rome’s most fashionable street, surrounded by the most prestigious fashion names and its prices seem to compete those of the shops around it. Italians find it outrageous to pay 7-9€ for a cup of coffee – who can blame them! – and prefer the bar’s counter where prices are average. Do the same: go in, look around, observe the old furniture and the paintings and then place your order at the bar… the signature white and orange cup will soon be in front of you.
11. Ciampini Another elegant piazza, another historic café. Ciampini dates back in 1941 and is located on a less known square, Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina, right in the heart of Campo Marzio area. The fact that this square is next to Via del Corso, one of the main commercial streets, and close to Rome’s political center, makes it busy all day with shoppers, politicians and journalists.
So, Ciampini’s outside sittings are always of high demand, whether it’s for a morning coffee, a delicious gelato, or one of their signature cocktails at aperitivo time. This particular time, early in the evening, is when the area is at its best, with lights reflecting on the gracious buildings. Combine your visit to Ciampini with one to the Church of San Lorenzo in Lucina, that dominates the square with its Romanesque bell tower.
12. Salotto 42 Quiet during the day and vivid when night falls, this is one of Rome’s favorite bars. Besides the fact that you absolutely must have a cocktail there, among the beautiful crowd that spreads on Piezza di Pietra facing the amazing Temple of Handrian, Salotto 42 is ideal for a coffee break in a peaceful nest, leaving the area’s hustle and bustle away for a while. The apsed interior has a sophisticated décor and a very relaxing atmosphere, so choose a table by the window, order your coffee and one of the day’s sweets from the counter, sit back and plan your next, late night visit here…
13. Rosati The astonishing Piazza del Popolo is distinguished by its two identical churches and also its two famous rival cafes. Rosati is the oldest and most aristocratic one and holds a special memory for me, as it was the first café I visited in Rome. I still remember the awe I felt when entering the interior with the grand wooden staircase, curved wooden furniture, velvet sittings and art nouveau details. Outside, at a table overlooking the piazza, a couple was so well dressed and stylish I thought they were staring in a commercial! On a normal day the outside sittings are taken over by tourists, but you can always pretend that you’re sipping your coffee surrounded by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Alberto Moravia , Elsa Morante and other intellectual friends of Rosati.
14. Canova And from Pasolini’s Rosati to Fellini’s Canova, on the other side of Piazza del Popolo. The café pays tribute to its most well known fan with a small gallery dedicated to his work. More casual and modern than Rosati, it offers equally pleasant views, good coffee, tasty sweets and light meals. From aperitivo time at six o’clock, a selection of snacks is offered on a buffet at the bar if you fancy a drink before dinner, which can also be enjoyed in the premises.
15. Gran Caffè Roma Sooner or later everyone passes by the glorious Via Veneto. Especially new comers in Rome who seek a taste of the old glamour and the 60’s sense of La Dolce Vita…Unfortunately the days of fame have long gone and Via Veneto is no longer the meeting point of famous actors, directors and paparazzi…Nevertheless, it remains one of the most grandiose Roman streets and a walk there is always rewarding. Luxurious hotels and well known cafes are still there, showing off photos of their past and famous clients. Other than seeing these pictures, there really is no need to overpay for a cup of coffee in these cafes. And that’s why I recommend Gran Caffè Roma. Prices there are more reasonable, service is more or less the same and I particularly like its location, right on the street’s lower curve. If you feel you must have a coffee break in Via Veneto then choose a table outside and you’ll also have a view of the picturesque staircase that connects Via Veneto with the upper Ludovisi area.