Last weekend marked the end of Lungo il Tevere 2017 – a symbol that summertime in Rome was officially over.
The annual festival, which literally translates to “along the Tevere”, attracts locals and visitors alike with games, music, fashion and food & drink stalls all along the Tiber River bank. The food and drink (and not just of the Italian kind) was what interested me in particular.
Being a resident of Rome now, I vowed to start doing more things around this great city. Not just things deemed touristy - stuff that true locals took part in.
I made a list of sights, activities and venues to explore and Lungo Il Tevere was one of them. Also on that list was to catch a live jazz performance. Something I had been trying to do for well over a year, but after asking around and some strenuous research, I only found one or two places that stood out. One of my prerequisites was a place dedicated solely to jazz. I realize the bar was set high for me, being from NYC but not as high as if I lived in Chicago or New Orleans. But all that being said, I had temporarily given up my search.
The nights were finally getting a little cooler so my friends and I were excited to spend it outdoors. We started at Prati, walking towards the direction of Trastevere. It was a great place for a passeggiata and we took our sweet time browsing through the never-ending stalls, taking note of the ones that served food (for when we’d be hungry later). As we continued, I heard some faint music in the distance. My ears perked up like a puppy...could it be jazz?! The melody lured me towards it and I soon found out that it was.
Gregory’s Jazz Club (one of the places I came across in my research) had set up shop along the Tiber. The place that I’d been meaning to pay homage to, had found its way to me!
I almost ran towards the tiny stage to find the closest seat possible, leaving my friends far behind me. They eventually found their way over, although I barely noticed. I was so captivated by the music, I was in a complete trance.
The 5 euro cover charge was more than reasonable compared to my standards. I was accustomed to places far more expensive than that. The drinks on the other hand, were on the pricey side, taking cocktails from the jazz era. Feeling a little nostalgic, I ordered a Manhattan. I was pretty excited about this too, until I saw my drink coming towards me. Apparently not all things had translated correctly here – my cocktail was miniature and I was finished within two sips. But my disappointment dissipated as they music played on, slowly seeping into my veins. The band took a break from their set just in time though. We were absolutely starving! So much so, that all of those places we had made a mental note of prior, had completely disappeared from our brains.
So, we wandered around again in order to make the best-informed decision. Which was easy to do at this point being so late - most of the vendors were closed! We were also in the last remaining days of Ferragosto so many stalls hadn’t even reopened.
My friend had smelled some pulled pork when we were walking around earlier, so he was beyond ecstatic when we found this to be one of the few places still serving. Not a huge fan of BBQ, Phil’s American impressed. So good that I think I was even cured of my fear of coleslaw! We devoured our sandwiches and beers in mere minutes. Not the best idea being so late at night so off we went for another walk around to digest before bed.
Between the American Jazz standards, beer and BBQ – I forgot I was in Rome! But the Tiber River beside me served as a beautiful reminder. I just wish I had gone to Lungo il Tevere sooner. But I told myself not to fret – I could always visit most of the featured vendors and establishments all year-long in Rome.