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From my city to yours: mixologist Giulia Castellucci explores regeneration in Pigneto, Rome

Cocktail queen Giulia Castellucci is one of Rome’s best bartenders and co-owner of Co.So Cocktail & Social, the bar that put Pigneto on the nightlife map. She talks about how the area went from forgotten neighbourhood to the coolest new district in town.

Published 7 Oct 2021, 15:00 BST
GIulia pours a drink at Co.So Cocktail & Social, the bar she co-owns in Pigneto, one ...

GIulia pours a drink at Co.So Cocktail & Social, the bar she co-owns in Pigneto, one of Rome's most happening neighbourhoods.

Photograph by Francesco Lastrucci

Pigneto is still a little off the beaten track for some travellers, so what’s the area like?
Pigneto is a really interesting place. Architecturally, it’s known for its small, low-rise houses and little self-contained villas — I think the three-storey block of flats next to us is the biggest in the area. These days, it’s really expensive to live here but in the past, sadly, it had a bit of a bad reputation. Pier Paolo Pasolini, the film director, used to live here, and his film Accattone was partly shot here, depicting working-class struggles in post-war Italy.

Has it changed much in recent years?
I’d say from 2013 to 2015, the area began to change. Co.So, which I now co-own, was the first quality bar here — it was opened by Massimo D’addezio, who now runs Chorus Café [near the Vatican]. He left the Hotel de Russie to open Co.So in 2013, and gradually built it up. It made the area really popular, and I always liked it. Then one day, in 2016, he was joking, saying I should take it over. Two years later, I did, along with my partner Riccardo [Bucci], who’s a chef, and our business partner Benedetto Guarino. But before Massimo arrived, Pigneto wasn’t really about quality. There was the pedestrianised area, but it was nothing like it is now, packed with great bars and restaurants.

How does the area differ from other Roman neighbourhoods?
Pigneto is different from the rest of Rome. It’s like a lovely little town in itself — you can move about on foot, there’s lots of street art everywhere, it’s very eclectic. It’s a small area, made up of just the streets surrounding us, and then the pedestrianised part on the other side of the railway line. This means it’s walkable, so you can just wander round to find what you’re looking for. In the evening, it comes into its own: it’s full of bars and people, and you can go from one bar to the next: an aperitivo here, then dinner elsewhere, on for post-dinner drinks to another bar and so on.

Other than the bars, what else is worth seeing in the area?
Pigneto is really known for its street art. There’s not one main area — it’s scattered everywhere. You just have to walk around. There are some works by well-known artists, too. The art really inspires our creations at So.Co, so we put murals in our bar to keep the urban theme.

What kind of crowd does Pigneto attract?
There are lots of locals who hang out in Pigneto, and people come from across Rome. In particular, they come to our bar — it’s really cool, and you’ll see a table of young kids right next to a table of lawyers or judges, but you don’t notice the contrast. People come to Pigneto because it’s a different kind of area from somewhere like Trastevere, but it has the same potential. You can enjoy yourself, there are great bars and the streets are full of people. I’m not going to say it’s cooler than Trastevere, because I love both, but I will say that Pigneto is totally different — here you see another reality of Rome. 

Published in the November 2021 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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