eing an entrepreneur in Rome without office space requires two things: a disciplined approach at home and a handful of local spots that have good and reliable Wi-Fi.
I avoid frequent coffee breaks and fridge sweeps while pounding my computer keys in a living room nook. It’s a process that tests my self-control and demands a well-regimented routine. But finding a comfortable place to plug in my laptop in a relatively peaceful public environment presents an even bigger challenge.
Free wireless hotspots in Rome are spotty at best. The smartest options are places that offer a free password-protected connection that doesn’t require a registration with an email account or a local cell number. If you also want well-brewed caffeinated beverages, fine food, and courteous staff, the selection narrows even further. While waiting for Starbucks to land in Rome (don’t hold your breath), here’s my shortlist of local work spaces with reliable wireless and assorted libations.
— Vivi Bistrot On the Monteverde end of Villa Pamphili, Rome’s largest public park, sits a tastefully restored barn with plenty of outdoor seating and all-day service. Early breakfast runs through lunch. Later, there’s high tea and homemade cake, aperitifs and candlelight dinner service. The seasonal menu employs only high quality organic foods. A blazing fireplace in winter and air-conditioning in summer make it an ideal free Wi-Fi workplace, above all because it’s removed from city bedlam. Ask about their picnic delivery in the park and free yoga classes. Open daily through sunset (in summer closing time is midnight). Park doors close at 9 p.m. For those who prefer a more urban touch, there’s also an outlet at Palazzo Braschi, near Piazza Navona. Vivi Bistrot | Via Vitellia, 102. Tel. +39.06.582.7540.
— Prati Urbani: Here’s a gourmet restaurant and coffee bar exudes relaxation, parts of its soothing walls covered with long patches of green moss, slivers of a so-called vertical garden (prati urbani means urban fields). Menu items feature salads, sandwiches, soups, burgers and fish or meat tartare. I like munching on their wok veggie stir-fry or the soups served in a cup while I surfing the web (or picking a book from their ample bookshelf selections). Open daily from morning to 2 a.m. Brunch served on weekends. • Prati Urbani | Via Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina 41/43. Tel. +39.06.8772.5315.
— Sorpasso: This Prati neighborhood coffee and wine bar has a fine kitchen and isn’t far from the Vatican. It offers a handsome selection of cured meats and cheeses, a sublime wine list, and homegrown organic produce often blended into juices and smoothies (don’t miss their olive oil and homemade jams.) There’s free wireless and a handful of tables outside. Open Mon.-Sat. early morning to 1 a.m. Parking spot can be challenging, but the area is very well served by public transportation. • Sorpasso | Via Properzio, 31. Tel. +39.06.8902.4554.
— Necci dal 1924: Pier-Paolo Pasolini’s 1960 film “Accattone” revealed the true face of the then-little known suburb of Pigneto. Yet Necci was a local institution long before the film was released. Founded in the 1920s on the site of an ex-convent, Necci now represents a meeting place for hipster aficionados, young bohemians and film buffs. Instagram-friendly Necci serves lunch and dinner from a menu that features hearty soups and hand-stretched pastas, charcuterie and cheese grazing boards. There are wholesome entrees, plenty of cucina romana classics, and a delicious selection of desserts. Drop by in late afternoon or evening, when the sun sets behind the garden hedges. I also love the second-hand market on Sunday afternoon. Open daily 8 a.m.-2 a.m. • Necci | Via Fanfulla da Lodi, 68. Tel. +39.06.9760.1552.
— Black Market: This place has two locations in two very hip neighborhoods. The flagship is in Monti, with the second outlet in San Lorenzo, the heart of the university district (free Wi-Fi in both). Black Market is an art gallery that hosts show openings and book presentations, with food service that includes coffee, tea and homemade cakes. From Happy Hour on, patrons can browse the wine and cocktail list, fill their plates with aperitivo spreads, or dine on items served by the bistro-style kitchen. Favorite ingredients include mozzarella di bufala from Amaseno, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken or vegan burgers. The 1950s ambiance is underscored by unplugged live music played by artists from all over the world. Open daily 4:30 p.m.-2 a.m. • Black Market | Via Panisperna, 10 and Via dei Sardi, 50. Tel. +39. 346.020.2737 (Monti); +39.328.562. 9789 (San Lorenzo).
— Circus: International magazines and newspapers, free wireless and nice cocktails. I come for the spiced chai latte, the bagels and salads. Plush sofas and armchairs welcome patrons in a cozy setting with DJ music and sports events on widescreen TVs. Located near Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. Open daily 10 a.m.-2 a.m. Aperitif service 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Brunch served on Sunday. • Circus | Via della Vetrina, 15. Tel. +30.06.9761.9258.
— Ciostro del Bramante: The “Caffetteria” coffee shop at the Chiostro del Bramante gallery serves continental breakfast — go for the house specialty, the macchiatone. The restaurant is in the Sala delle Sibille overlooking frescoes by Raphael and offers lunch, tea and aperitifs. Daily specials vary (of late, cacio e pepe risotto, vegetable tempura with a whipped soy sauce mayo, beef carpaccio with apple chips and barbecue sauce). When in season, have a slice of chestnut cheesecake. Free Wi-Fi and refreshments served only during museum hours 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. • Chiostro del Bramante | Via Arco della Pace, 5. Tel. +39.06.6880.9036.