Column #19 Rome, Italy
September 1, 1996
In my life it’s 3:00 in the morning. I’ve just put down the phone from talking with my darts partner (Chris James of the Cousin’s Cannibals) who has just packed up his darts after winning his ’01 back in Hyannis, Massachusetts. It’s 9:00 in the evening (yesterday) back home and league play is in full force. Damn, I’d rather be there…
But I’m here in Rome. Just back from a night of shooting. And I’ve just finished off one of the best pizzas available on the planet. Back in high school I couldn’t make sense of anything they tried to teach me in Western Civilization class. On test after test I just couldn’t figure what was so damn special about the Roman Empire. Now I know. Pizza. And darts!
As Rome edges closer and closer to the beginning of yet another millenium, darts (called “freccette” — meaning “small arrow”) is as alive and well as it is in most any other city in the world. For two nights running I have literally thrown my arm off against hairy guys with names like Guiseppe and Salvatore — who rolled their own cigarettes.
But the best competition I found was not against Italians — rather with two investment bankers from New Jersey named Tom and Tim — on holiday with their girl friends. We met up at an excellent little Irish pub called Druid’s Den 3 (Via S. Martino ai Monti 22). It was here that I closed out my time in Rome after more or less wasting my first night at a similar pub just up the street — the Fiddler’s Elbow (Via S. Prassede 91-C).
Both pubs are owned by the same guy. And both boast the same simple philosophy: T’is better a head on the Guinness than a Guinness on the head. You can purchase a local brew at either, but the Guinness, Harp and Kilkenny are like right out of a Dublin tap. And at 7,000 lire (a little under $5) the price ain’t bad for Italy.
I have to recommend Druid’s over the Fiddler. The place is about as old as the rest of the city. It’s sort of carved into the stone basement of a thousand-year old church. The board is way in the back and set up beautifully. Raised brass oche. Excellent lighting. A long sort of windowed wall runs along the left side of the throwing area to protect a very ample spectator area from bounceouts. There’s even a digital scoreboard postitioned above the board.
In contrast, the Fiddler is dark and somber. And the darts setup is poor. The board is centered in a very strange sort of wooden box. And, try as one might, there’s simply no way to score — the chalkboard must have once hung in the Colosseum.
Rome is a must see city — a one of a kind slice of history. In between darts I managed to take in a bit of it all. The Pantheon. The Forum. The Sistine Chapel. St. Peter’s Basilica. I even made it to the Colosseum — but didn’t see any lions.
At the end of the day though — at the end of the week actually — I must admit that I enjoyed myself most at Druid’s Den 3. This is definitely a pub worth a stop. And a long stay.
It’s a shame they don’t serve pizza!
From the Field,
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