ROME — Although it probably boasts more bars per capita than any other major city in the world (eight pages of fine print in the telephone directory), Rome is not what you would call a drinking man's town.
Like the brasseries of Paris, the bars of Rome exist mainly for the quick, stand-up consumption of coffee, pastries, sandwiches and fruit juice. They are the Eternal City's equivalent of short-order joints, with beer and booze available but rarely ordered.
Still, there are a few relaxing and even clubby watering holes of the kind that Americans and Englishmen favor. My favorite--and I share the choice with many of the city's foreign correspondents, film celebrities and the more gregarious of the city's Anglophone business people--is the mahogany-paneled bar of the Hotel d'Inghilterra.
The Inghilterra bar is situated behind the lobby of one of Rome's most fashionable hotels, just a block off luxurious Via Condotti, but it has somehow escaped the formality and stuffiness of many hotel bars. Instead, it has all the convivial qualities of a warm and friendly neighborhood saloon, and the same qualities are reflected in the chief bartender, Mario Pinchetti.