Social centers in Rome. An underground movement of caring, artistic individuals in Rome has created a hub of social centers, occupying disused venues, governed by the rules of self-determination, equality and inclusivity.
‘When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes necessary’ – the drive to search and create places that would be open to all, where you can combat the loss of jobs, the lack of opportunities and improve the creative output of the society resulted in a one-of-a-kind environment in Rome. It paved the way to the rise of a vast web of self-funded, unparalleled venues, home to some of the most unique and stimulating concerts, events and social initiatives. These are the sites that encourage direct and radical democracy, where citizens can feel part of an alternative society that seeks and makes change. Decisions are made in shareholders’ meetings, ensuring every occupant equal power, maintaining a low cost of all activities that keep these places alive. Social centers in Rome are a hotbed of cultural and riotous growth and of an energized inspiring movement that intervenes where the government has failed.
Even though situated slightly under the radar, this part of Rome boasts a very active and stimulating alternative scene. At its center stands Forte Prenestino located in a park at Via Delpino. It is a disused military fort and is surrounded by an empty moat and earthworks. When crossing its gate, one feels transported into a completely different place, almost a city within a city. Forte Prenestino hosts a number of cultural events, concerts, festivals and much more. There is also a strong emphasis put on providing the community with a variety of opportunities, beyond partying. You have sport classes, ranging from pilates to yoga to boxing, language courses, practice rooms for bands, a small theater, workshops, laboratories and so on. The prices are well beyond the ones charged at more conventional sites. Moreover, most of their courses offer the first class free.
(BAM) Biblioteca Abusiva Metropolitana
Via dei Castani, 42
Down the road from Forte Prenestino is Biblioteca Abusiva Metropolitana, BAM for short. Even though, at first sight, less impressive than their previously described neighbor, BAM is an important location for anyone interested in literature from all corners of the world. Most of their books are in Italian but some can be found in English, Arabic or French. In addition to providing a great selection of literary jewels they sometimes organize workshops, movie screenings or aperitivos.
Via delle Resede, 5
Finally, next to Gardenie metro station one can find 100celle Aperte. A social club focused on theater and music. There are a few rehearsal rooms at their premises stocked with a variety of amplifiers, microphones and other musical equipment.
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Lucha Y Siesta
Via Lucio Sestio, 10
Lucha Y Siesta is a bit different from similar facilities as it operates as a House for Women. They remain very active throughout the year with a number of events taking place every week. In addition to a great variety of cultural activities like workshops, movie screenings and talks, they also offer temporary housing for women and minors in need, support groups, library and work spaces. Overall, it’s an important place, not only for women, but for anyone wanting to be socially active and fight discrimination and sexism.
Via Selinunte, 57
CSOA Spartaco is located in the vicinity of Lucio Sestio metro station. They organize live concerts, movie screenings and theater spectacles. There are also numerous workshops covering topics such as photography, improvised orchestra or theater. It is worth checking their Facebook page for current updates as their website is a bit out of date. Between Thursday and Saturday, from 20 to 23 they open Trattoria Solidale. A perfect place to eat a delicious and cheap meal, drink beer, listen to music and hang out with friends.
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Via Bertero, 13 (Casal de’Pazzi)
A bit further away, nested within Riserva Naturale Valle dell’Aniene, CSA La Torre has found its space. Accessible by getting off at the Metro B stations of Ponte Mammolo or Rebibbia, and then taking a bus, this off-the-grid place offers many interesting and engaging initiatives. At its center stands Palestra Popolare. La Torre engages with everything circus-related and as such they offer classes in acrobatics, dance or stretching. Additionally, every Tuesday and Thursday, between 11:00 and 14:00 the gym is open for anyone wanting to use it. They regularly operate a bar with drinks, food and music. One of their more well-known events is Sound Rebel. A series of concerts promoting underground and alternative bands.
Ex Snia Viscosa
Via Prenestina, 173
Snia Viscosa is most known for their concerts. Many bands play there, representing a variety of musical genres, from Rock, Punk, Metal to Electro and Pop. Located within the quaint and vibrant district of Pigneto it serves as a must-see place for all music-lovers. Over the summer they organize Eat Up. A series of events with drinks, food, music and dance all mashed together.
Via della Vasca Navale, 6
No guide on alternative Rome could be done without mentioning Acrobax. Situated within walking distance from Metro B station Basilica S. Paolo, Acrobax is one of the most active places on the cultural map of Rome. Located on the site of an old sports complex, it is the place to be when it comes to easily-accessible and alternative spots on the Roman map. This place is all about people. With a delicious gastronomic offer, cheap drinks, concerts, parties, initiatives and an amazing atmosphere Acrobax serves as an example of what a well-organized space run by innovative people can achieve.
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Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 55a
Angelo Mai is another landmark on the Roman cultural scene. Originally operating as a theater, it grew to be so much more. With the emphasis put on inclusivity it serves as a safe space and a launching platform for many emerging bands, labels and theater acts. They organize many events ranging from parties and concerts, to performances and other spectacles. It is worth noting that Angelo Mai is part of the Circolo Arci association. It means that upon entry a one-time extra fee must be paid. In return one receives a card allowing entry to all other spaces that are part of this association.
De Lollis Undergound
Via Cesare De Lollis, 22
Located on the border of the popular district of San Lorenzo, De Lollis Underground offers a welcome change from the alcohol-heavy offer of its neighborhood. Started by Sapienza students, dissatisfied with what the university and how it’s run, they took the matters into their own hands. Now they are centered around graphic arts. Organizing tattoo art festivals and workshops with associated graphic arts studios exploring techniques such as screen-printing or drypoint. The place also has a dark-room to be used by analog photography enthusiasts.
Via S.Tommaso d’Aquino, 11/A
Spazio Oxygene is located just outside of Prati, in the vicinity of Metro A Cipro station. Organized as a free of charge and volunteer-run exposition and workshop space, it provides ample opportunities to discover emerging artists or learn a new craft. They also run their own public library, have a football club and organize jam sessions. Among their most notable initiatives is their collaboration with other groups and institutions from Rome, putting together mini festivals promoting particular artists or art-mediums.
Via Umberto Partini, 21
Punk is not dead and Strike is there to prove it. A music-focused space that offers an opportunity to sink into Rome’s ever present heavy sounds scene. They organize concerts that attract rock, metal and punk-heads alike. Yet, it is definitely not a place that tries to be “for the true fans only”. No one will look down on a newcomer if they are not wearing a ripped jean jacket and heavy army boots. It’s not unusual to see punk fans, families with kids and Erasmus students all together enjoying whomever is playing that night. For those who prefer something classier and calmer, Strike also organizes jazz nights and dinners. Regularly check their Facebook page to stay up to date on their events.