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Friday, January 11, 2019

Join the Italian sing-along at Fonclea in Prati

Singer Luca Vicari covers Lucio Battisti songs at Fonclea.
It's not an easy task to find music in Rome that's neither contemporary rock (including rap, new age, electronic) nor classical. We've searched for every jazz club in town, and many, if not most, have disappeared over the years (as in Casa del Jazz, La Palma, 28 Divino; although we just discovered Alexanderplatz (in RST's Top 40) which had been closed for over a year and we feared forever, has reopened).

One mainstay of nostalgic rock is Fonclea, a club in Prati, not far from the Vatican. Fonclea started in 1977 as - per their Web site - a "cantina alternativa," an alternative cantina, where young musicians would have a chance to play in public.  Those young musicians have aged and now Fonclea is a 7-days-a-week music spot mainly for cover bands, which seem to be an even bigger phenomenon in Italy than in the U.S. That said, Fonclea is a great place to see and hear those bands.

Choose beer over wine.
The atmosphere is British pub.  As a result, the beer selection is much better than the wine selection.  There is a good-sized menu, and the Italians like to eat there, with their music.  We'd rate the food as fair.

They all knew all the words.
A sampling of Fonclea's schedule, from their Web site.
One night this spring, everyone in the room was singing along to the songs of pop singer Lucio Battisti, who, as Wikipedia says, "is widely recognized for songs that defined the late 1960s and 1970s era of Italian songwriting."  Something of a loner, he died at age 55 in 1998. Some of the songs sounded familiar to us, but we didn't know them well enough to sing along. Even so, it was great fun to be there and hear the music.  

One night another person joined us at our table.  A German tourist, she had wandered into Fonclea from a nearby hotel.  She wanted to know what was going on with the singing audience.  After listening for awhile she declared it was her birthday and the best way she could have spent it, confirming our sense that a night at Fonclea is terrific even if one doesn't know the language.

The cover band for Lucio Battisti's music that we heard makes frequent appearances at Fonclea.  They were founded in 1994 as "Anime Latine" ("Latin souls") by the singer Luca Vicari and drummer Francesco De Chicchis, dedicating themselves only to the music of Battisti.

Info at (if it doesn't work, try it another time). Via Crescenzio 82a. +39 06 689 6302.


We hadn't realized until we looked in our photo files that we had seen the same cover band - from the other side
of the room - in 2015.

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