LIFE/Jordan Gowan
: Viterbo by night


It’s two in the morning, the time when everyone’s vision is slightly hazy, and the air is crisp and ringing with the sound of Italian voices and distant macchine. The lights outside Porta Romana are blinking orange and I catch myself blinking with them as I wait for the last car to round the bend, making it safe to cross. It’s been two months in the city, and a good portion of them have been spent something like this one.

Everything looks different at night, and Viterbo is no exception. Around Porta Romana all is quiet, but as you weave towards the centre of town things suddenly start to pick up. On Via San Lorenzo it seems like there’s an open place on every street corner, especially near the two small fountains on Piazza del Gesu and Piazza della Morte. One of the more charming things about Italy is how the bars (café’s for all you non-Italians) stay open so late and transform from a coffee shop to serving alcohol in what seems like a heart-beat. Then there’s the ones which open later and are primarily for the late-night crowd, such as Book Bar or Bar 77. It’s not uncommon to find throngs of people out here as late as two or three in the morning, even in the colder months, brought in by the lure of great liquor, excellent service and some typical Italian late-night atmosphere.

At Bar 77 there seems to be a local or European band playing nearly every weekend, and as a musician myself, it’s really the place to be. I’ve met guitarists from Milan, sung Queen with the bartender, and watched a French folk band lay down one of the tightest grooves around – all in the space of a few short weeks.

Another great place in Viterbo is Beer Shack, which serves locally-brewed beer. Although a little more expensive than some of the other places, the beer is fantastic and with the $3.50 special on Wednesdays there’s not a lot to complain about.

For those valuing sleep, a great Italian tradition which is also easy on the wallet is that of apiritivo, where for the price of a drink you get platters of food buffet-style or brought out to you. Nearly every bar has one in the early hours of the evening from 6.30 onwards, and there’s nothing better for a relaxed evening with friends. The light meal on top is just the icing on the cake, as it seems every place has a delicious selection, usually comprising of pasta dishes, salads, and bread.

It’s a fun, casual way to slide into the evening, but for me this is what night life is all about. Once again, Viterbo seems to have it all: good company, some excellent drinks, great live music and something just a little bit different from what I’m used to. The bar scene is thriving, there’s no lines, no pressure to dress up and a lot of interesting people to talk to. It’s well worth the long walk into town. Much like the two months already been and gone, you’ll probably find me at the Porta Romana crossing, waiting for the lights to change.

Hi everyone! I am a musician, surfer, writer and traveler from Palmerston North, New Zealand. I study Italian and photography at Universita delgi Studia Tuscia. In my free time I enjoy listening to music, playing the guitar and travelling around Italy and wider Europe. For more of my writing please visit

Ciao a tutti! Sono un musicista, surfer, scrittore e viaggiatore di Palmerston North in Nuova Zelanda. Studio Italiano e fotografia all’Università degli Studi della Tuscia. Nel mio tempo libero, mi piace ascoltare musica, suonare la chitarra e viaggiare per l’Italia e l’Europa. Per maggiori informazioni su quello che scrivo, potete visitare la mia pagina