When I first started dating my husband in 2011, he told me to meet him at Bar San Calisto. He said this in an offhand way as if he had just suggested we see each other on the front steps of the Pantheon or some other landmark.
Rome is full of thousands of bars, I thought. How could I possibly know this particular one? I didn’t know the name of the bar closest to my house in San Lorenzo, let alone the names of any in Trastevere.
But here is the thing: Bar San Calisto IS a landmark. It really is known by name and by reputation. Its fame among locals and visitors is astounding but it honestly remains well deserved.
So the reason that I have never written about Bar San Calisto (except to lament its temporary closure a few years ago), is because it is essentially a Roman monument. Of course, you must know about it, yes? But if you don’t, allow me to explain why it is so beloved…
Bar San Calisto is the ideal blend of young and old. Women stop here after shopping at the San Cosimato Market to chat with their neighbors, and men gather at all hours of the day and night to play a game of cards. University students also clamor for tables to drink cheap, large beers. Young professionals might arrange to meet friends here after work for a spritz ladled out of a jug of premade cocktails inside.
The prices at Bar San Calisto are unbeatable. You can sit at a well-worn table emblazoned with Peroni logos and sip a large (66 cl) beer for less than €5. A small spritz is more like €3.
As budget-friendly as San Calisto is, its retro appeal extends far beyond its back-in-the-day pricing. The interior tiles, old bar, and traditional gelato are other reasons that people flock here. The prices are good but the vibe is even better. This is where the Trastevere of years past is still alive and well.
We have many fun memories here (it is where I tried my first caffe corretto), and I am sure the bar will remain a staple in our Roman lives for years to come.
You can easily stop in if you are passing Santa Maria in Trastevere, the bar is a one-minute walk from the church.
P.S. many of the photos I have included here are from pre-pandemic days. Remember those?? Of course, this is a popular place and so while social distancing is enforced, it still gets crowded.
Bar San Calisto
Piazza di San Calisto, 3
Rome, Italy (Trastevere)