Situated on one corner of the lively Campo Di Fiori square, The Drunken Ship is one of the most famous bars in Rome. Famous, that is, for being anything but Roman.

Every major European city has one now, of course. In fact, many non-European cities have them too. They are those places that try and provide a little bit of familiarity in an unfamiliar place. The bars that make you feel instantly at home. They make you feel thoroughly at ease, and a million miles away from where you actually are.

The Drunken Ship is the Anglo-American travellers bar in Rome.

So here's the deal: You've arrived in Rome for some culture. You saw some museums, you saw some fountains, you ate an ice cream, and you saw some more fountains... all of which is thirsty work. Now it's half past nine, you've had dinner, and all you want to do is party. You might have signed up for the notorious Coliseum Pub Crawl, in which case you're already staggering your way towards the Drunken Ship. Otherwise, get out your Lonely Planet, and follow the directions for Campo Di Fiori...

You recognise it as soon as you're close. The square is packed with people. Standing room only in some parts. You carefully push past them, whilst avoiding looking like you're in a hurry. Whatever happens, never look rushed...

The bar's got some tables outside. If you wanted to, you could go to the counter on the left, which serves drinks directly onto the square. But actually, you want to go and check out the inside. You squeeze past the tables, and smile at the guy on the door. Friendly little guy. Not exactly a bouncer, he's really just there to greet the young American ladies...

Inside, darkness. To your left is a bar, serving all kinds of beverages, and willing to make any cocktail you ask for, as long as you ask for it nicely (don't worry about asking for it in Italian, the barmen are Australian...). In front, the room seems to stretch out endlessly, like a long thin corridor of drunkenness (this is an illusion - the back wall is mirrored, but you're too drunk to notice). There are some tables to the right, and the DJ is on a platform, directly above the door you've just walked in. He's playing American hip-hop and R&B. New stuff too, in the charts at the moment. The music stops for an instant, and you hear his American accent recommending Carlsberg lager, since it's on special offer tonight.

You go and grab a seat. A waitress comes up and asks for your order. She's kind of cute, speaks good English, and smiles at you a lot. You buy an expensive beer, and notice as she walks away that the back of her t-shirt reads 'Tip me or I'll spit in your drink'.

Yep, she gets a tip when she returns with your drink.

Over the next couple of hours, you relax, and end up getting thoroughly drunk. If you're a guy, you got chatting to some cute English girl, who's here on an exchange program. Maybe you did more than chat. If you're a girl, you were approached by at least five guys, some Italian, some American, some French... an international who's who of eligible bachelors. Whether you did more than chat depends entirely on how authentic you want your Roman holiday to be...

The size of the place only really becomes apparent when you get up to go to the toilet. It's at the back, on the left. You've had a little to drink, and actually walk into the mirrored back wall, thinking the bar extends further than it does. As best as you can, you try and maintain your cool. Then you notice there's a couple of people all hanging around this wall. Guys and girls, all queuing to use the single toilet that services this Roman hotspot. Amused, you wait your turn patiently, and by the time you actually relieve yourself, have managed to get 3 phone numbers, a tip on a club for later and another drink. Queuing for a piss has never been so sociable...

Come 2 o'clock, the DJ announces its time to go home. The waitresses begin to clear up, and the crowd spills out onto the streets to arrange the next manoeuvre. This is Rome, and at 2 o'clock it's still warm - maybe you'll just go for a little passagiato. Maybe you'll go on to a club. Who knows? The night has just begun...

Of course, if this all sounds a little bit dull for you, there are plenty of other, more Italian, places to go out in Rome. On Campo Di Fiori itself, you can just walk a couple of doors down from the Drunken Ship and enter La Vineria, which is much preferred by the local party crowd. Or, for a more thoroughly authentic drinking experience, head to one of the pubs and clubs in Trastevere, just over the river, where the partying is just as extreme, but the crowds are mostly Italian, not English or American.

Basically, if you want an easy, unchallenging night of sex and beer, The Drunken Ship has much to offer, and you're almost guaranteed a good time. But if you want an easy, unchallenging night, why did you come to Italy in the first place?


Small Disclaimer: Although this write-up encourages you to try new and excitingly different places within Rome, I should point out that I still go to the Drunken Ship fairly regularly, despite not being a tourist. Some kind of sick fascination I guess... So /msg me if you fancy a pint...

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.