A guy with a Chicago Bulls hat on sits on a stool in the entrance to the bar, brimming with Italian craft beer. A woman in a black, leather jacket stands to his side, quietly, observing the afternoon Trastevere neighborhood scene. Another pair of young guys stand just outside on the cobbled street with a glass of beer a piece. The building is weathered, like anything else in Rome and around Trastevere.
The orange-ish color has faded in parts to turn almost pink. That is, where small chunks of the wall haven’t been taken out for reasons not immediately clear, leaving gray blotches of concrete. Stickers (maybe of soccer team logos?) line the wooden doorway like a pole on a college campus is covered with local band stickers, political slogans, and maybe some Italian beer labels. The sign with “Ma che siete venuti a fà” is the newest looking addition underneath a couple of British-looking street lamps attached to the building.
Inside it’s dim with some lighting over the bar and taps. Most of the seats are taken at the bar, so we sit just across from it against a slab of wood sticking out of the wall to act as something of a backup bar. There’s more space deeper into the building, but it’s dark back there. The focus at the moment is placed on the smaller, early afternoon crowd.
The only English being spoken is between me, my wife, and the Johnny Cash music playing. Unearthed, I thought. The complete record. This is when I realize that this combination of craft beer, Rome, and Johnny Cash just might be my happy place.
Everyone else seems familiar with one another. Locals. A woman comes in with a baby in a stroller and her dog. The dog, maybe a golden retriever, promptly collapses across the floor, covering the narrow space between us at the wall and the bar. Nobody seems to mind. More attention is on the soccer game playing on the small corner television.
Predictably for me, I go for a local, strong introduction to the Italian craft beer scene — Extraomnes Tripel. At 8.6% ABV, I feel a buzz before I’m done with my glass.
I quickly start to feel like I might be in love with this place. The atmosphere, the Italian craft beer (screw the wine!), and the Man in Black’s haunting voice. I imagined if Johnny Cash spent much time in Rome, this is a place he would hang out in. Nevertheless, he would most certainly approve of his music being played here.
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