Great Venues & Jazz Clubs in Italy

The European jazz scene offers such a wide and varied culture and, without a doubt, one of the most historically significant countries is Italy.

Aside from some of the big names to come out of the Italian jazz scene – Enrico Rava, Paolo Fresu, Stefano Bollani – there’s a long line of international jazz legends who’ve spent extended periods there, starting way back with Louis Armstrong and continuing ever since.

For this rundown of some the great Italian jazz clubs and venues operating in 2020, we got some help from some musicians who know the scene very well. Italian bass player Ferdinando Romano from Florence, Italian saxophonist Daniele Comoglio Italian-based American jazz singer & spoken word artist Lisa Marie Simmons and

Between them, they’ve recommended 9 of the best jazz clubs in Italy for both musicians and jazz fans alike…

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Pinocchio Jazz Club (Florence)

Recommended by Ferdinando Romano

It’s probably the best jazz club in Florence (or Firenze as we call it).

The club itself opens only the day of the concert, every Saturday between November and March. I grew up there listening to some of the finest international and Italian musicians and it’s a point of reference for all jazz lovers and musicians in Tuscany.

Daniele and Costanza have been taking care of the club program for years and will make you listen to great music, from mainstream to more experimental jazz.

If you are in Florence on a day when a concert is happening there it’s really worth going!

Blue Note (Milan)

Recommended by Lisa Marie Simmons

The Blue Note, the Italian offshoot of the infamous New York jazz club, does not offer the same vibe as its namesake. This modern two-story venue boasts large tables a huge stage and plenty of space quite in contrast to Blue Note NYC’s close seating and intimate vibe.

What it lacks in old school charm it makes up for in acoustics. The lineup has boasted heavy hitters of the caliber of Dee Dee Bridgewater and Chick Corea, but Nick the Nightfly often books outstanding Italian talent as well.

It runs pretty much mainstream but is absolutely worth a visit.

bluenotemilano

Un Tubo (Siena)

Recommended by Ferdinando Romano

It’s a small jazz club, in the style of the best New York venues.

Due to the presence of Siena Jazz (one of the most famous music schools for jazz in Italy) you can often hear some of the teachers and best international artists playing there.

If you have the chance to visit – or even play there – you’ll also have the chance to taste great food from Siena so it’s worth a shot!

Cantina Bentivoglio (Bologna)

Recommended by Lisa Marie Simmons

Cantina Bentivoglio in Bologna opened its doors in 1987. It’s in the historic center of Bologna. In the vibrant heart of the city, this atmospheric club often has students in as Bologna is a university town.

The ancient arched walls and brick terra cotta floors enchant and the food is the best of all the places on this list and they spoil the musicians with it.

It can be hit and miss as to the audience’s attention span as it’s not set up for the musicians’ success regarding the seating arrangements and lighting, still beautiful & historic.

The performances range far from jazz into the territory of blues and funk but generally follow a pretty traditional bent.

www.cantinabentivoglio.it

La Casa del Jazz (Rome)

Recommended by Ferdinando Romano

It’s literally the Italian House of Jazz. It’s a point of reference in Roma: you can listen to concerts, conferences, masterclasses… It’s an emotional experience every time you play there; all the great jazz stars have played there and you really feel at home.

Garage Moulinski (Milan)

Recommended by Daniele Comoglio

Garage Moulinski is a relatively new club that is getting more and more important each year.

The artistic programming includes various musical genres: jazz, Brazilian music, folk… it is fast becoming a point of reference for the Milanese music scene.

The club hosted musicians from the Italian and international scene. Alessandro, the owner, has created a very warm and welcoming club and also an excellent restaurant!

https://www.facebook.com/garagemoulinski/

Alexanderplatz (Rome)

Recommended by Lisa Marie Simmons

One of my favorite places to perform in Italy, Alexanderplatz has been around since it was founded in 1984 by Giampiero Rubei. Currently run by Giampiero’s son Eugenio who took the helm after his father’s passing; it has been the touchstone of jazz in Rome since its inception.

It is notable that the audience tends to encompass all ages and though this intimate space has a classic jazz haunt feel with its framed photos of legendary players along with their autographs and various scribblings directly on the walls as well as the black and white checkered floors, there is decidedly a modern ambiance with an audience that never fails to be enthusiastic and attentive.

alexanderplatzjazz.com

Il Torrione (Ferrara)

Recommended by Ferdinando Romano

Il Torrione is a jazz club build inside an ancient tower with very good acoustics. It’s a very special place to be.

Every time I had the chance to play there it was great, Francesco and all the staff are cool and fun and the audience is very warm. At Il Torrione you can hear the best international jazz artists and Italian bands and, usually on Mondays, there’s a Jam Session on the ground floor after the concerts.

Le Cantina De L’Arena (Verona)

Recommended by Lisa Marie Simmons

Verona’s pride and joy L’Arena is in the heart of the city. The amphitheater was built in AD 30 and is one of the only structures from the period still in use today.

Famous for it’s staging of operas they also host concerts of every genre. Just across from its commanding presence on Piazza Bra lies Le Cantina De L’Arena.

A restaurant/pizzeria above, one descends the ancient marble steps to an underground cavern below that has been there in its current form since 2005. However, Le Cantina shares its subterranean architecture with the famous Arena and is renowned for having been the spot to retire for a glass or two and a song or three for the divas of shows long past.

I love playing this venue for the history as well as for the owner’s enthusiastic embrace of jazz in all its forms. Currently owned and run by musical director Corrado Vantini, avid jazz enthusiast, musicians perform for tourists and locals alike.

Corrado gives equal opportunity to more classic jazz combos as well as bands that are more avant garde. Varying styles but Corrado is known for bringing in quality talent each night and makes each musician feel welcome.

lecantine-arena.com

NEXT:
The Best Chicago Jazz Clubs & Venues

Big thanks to Ferdinando,  & Lisa for their input on this one and hope you discovered some useful tips for Italian jazz clubs. If you want to suggest others that should be here, feel free to use the comments box below.

And – if you’re keen to get to know more about the Italian jazz scene, check out JazzIt or the long-running Musica Jazz – which is on our list of 10 best jazz magazines in the world. 

You can find our guides to jazz in various other cities and countries here