It is difficult to end up in via Medici by chance, despite being a side street of the central Via Torino; located in the splendid context of the Cinque Vie, it is a stone’s throw from the Duomo and the Colonne. It is a small, Roman, hidden street and it is even more difficult to find if you are not a regular user who decided to go out for drinks in a hostel. From a distance the red sign stands out along with the multitude of boys sitting outside, inside, entering and leaving, sipping wine, beer, cocktails. There is no definition for this place, Ostello Bello is a (beautiful) state of mind.
I decide to enter: I’m confused as languages mix, a background piano plays, the pianist is certainly not a student of the conservatory, but the beauty is just that. The atmosphere is excited, warm and cosmopolitan: they all seem to know each other, it’s like at a party.
Ostello Bello is a hostel in the less traditional sense of the term: it hosts travelers upstairs, and a varied clientele at the bar on the ground floor. Sitting on chairs (hardly equal to each other), customers from different geographical backgrounds, students, workers: regardless of age are seated at the same table. Because at Ostello Bello this is how it works. You find a chair and sit down, aware that the backpacker next to you will hardly hold back from telling you why he is there and what his next trip is. It is a place of memorabilia, stories, stickers on suitcases. It absorbs the stories of those who live there, difficult to get out of without even an anecdote to tell. The slogan of the restaurant is clear: “This house is not a hotel”, no – in fact – it is much more.
What is there to drink? Everything. The choice of craft beers is particularly wide, and then the wines and cocktails (a “drink of the month” is always present: the irresistible description will convince you to try it). The aperitif, present from 7pm to 9pm, is a buffet, designed to meet the needs of travelers from all over the world: present vegan dishes – on request – gluten free as there is no lack of vegetables, light dishes and also an excellent pasta with pesto. Jugs of water are placed on each table and fresh fruit is available. For those arriving in the evening for aperitif it is possible to choose from a wide selection of finger foods, which can be ordered at any time of the evening, including chips, cutting boards and nachos, all freshly prepared.
If you notice an exchange of beer caps between customers and baristas, don’t be shy: the caps are free drinks! Approach a staff member, ask how to earn one: it is quite likely that once you overcome the challenge that is proposed to you, you will be able to earn a second round offered.
I notice a flood of people headed downstairs so I decided to follow them; I discovered a microphone stand and a band that is preparing to play. The public encourages as they talk about previous exhibitions and the open mic event that will take place the next evening. I sip a glass of red wine listening to live music and reflect on the fact that it is not necessary to take a plane to go on vacation: it may be enough to take the tram 3, cross the threshold of Ostello Bello and feel as if you are anywhere you want to be.