'Catholic pub' opens in historic Rome crypt

The beer is cheap, the waiters are talkative and the music is 1960s Motown - but the new pub that opened its doors this week in a historic crypt in central Rome is not really like any other.

Start with the landlord being a Catholic priest, the religious sayings on the walls and the large crucifix hanging in one of its vaulted rooms.

Then there's the name of the new drinking establishment: "Giovanni Paolo II", or "John Paul II".

"Vodka is not allowed here," said barman Marco Mincaglia, as he served out beers and snacks to a visiting group of young German pilgrims.

Massimo Camussi, the doorman, dressed in a black T-shirt reading "JP2," said: "It's about drinking to meet people and talk about the Catholic Church and listen to Catholic music. We love John Paul II."

The "John Paul II" is not just a novelty drinking venue - it's part of a Catholic initiative called "Jesus in the Centre" aimed to reach out to the clusters of kids who flock to central Rome at night.

"The idea is to offer the young people of Rome... an opportunity to express themselves, to listen, to be listened to, to drink something but in a healthy way, in a nice way," said Maurizio Mirilli, a priest and the landlord.

"The important thing is that anyone who comes here should know they can't get drunk. There are rules. Because you can have fun, you can drink in a healthy way. There's no need to go crazy to have fun," he said.

The sign on the bar behind him reads: "Give me a drink" - a quote from Jesus Christ in the Bible - another from pope John Paul II reads "Be not afraid" and from Saint Therese of the Child Jesus: "Everything is grace."

The bar is located down some steps in the vaulted crypt of the San Carlo al Corso basilica on one of Rome's most popular streets, surrounded by high-end clothes shops and chic drinking venues.

In fact if it is to have any hope of competing with its neighbouring establishments, the "John Paul II" might do better than talk up its low prices.

A Corona costs three euros (four dollars), a Heineken 2.50 euros and a Moretti 2.50 euros - far less than the prices charged in most places in central Rome.

There were only a handful of visitors on the opening night, however, and Pascal Mengede, 27, a local government official from Cologne in northwest Germany, had a few complaints about the new establishment.

"It was very difficult to find because there were no signs," said Mengede, adding that he had heard about the pub on Vatican radio.

"It's okay but I think an Irish pub is nicer than this."

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing