A Virtual Trip Down Via Margutta
Despite its diminutive size, Via Margutta has certainly earned its place as one of Rome’s most famous streets, and its rich history along with a laid-back charm make it well-worth taking a virtual peek into its picturesque nooks and crannies. The three-block road provides a refuge of calm between the more bustling hubs of Piazza di Spagna and Piazza del Popolo and, thanks to its position beneath the lush parks and gardens of the Villa Borghese, it exudes a completely different vibe from the smart store fronts and commercial activity of the surrounding area.
Originally a dark alleyway that housed sewers, storerooms, stables and vegetable plots at the rear of the noble buildings on Via del Babuino, artists gradually began to filter in during the middle ages, converting the existing buildings into their studios and workshops. This influx reached its peak in the 1800s when foreign painters, writers, composers and nobility established the area around the Spanish Steps as their Roman base while soaking up the historical and artistic inspiration of the city. Via Margutta was thus transformed into a proper road and the elegant townhouses that can be seen today were constructed.
Nowadays, wandering onto Via Margutta there is a perceptible change of pace to a calmer, more whimsical, charm, with lower buildings in burnt terracotta hues, coated with flowing vines and ivy. What were once artist’s studios are now home to small independent galleries, antique shops, boutique hotels and quaint restaurants.
To take a virtual stroll along the highlights of Via Margutta, we will start here at our 5 star luxury gem, Margutta 19.
Exit the hotel and turn right. Take a short walk until you come to number 110 on your left. It was here that famed Italian film director Federico Fellini lived with his wife, Giulietta Masina, until his death in 1993. Fellini was an integral member of the community of the street and his tendency to use locations close to his home in his films ensured the road’s cinematic notoriety. The nearby bar Canova in Piazza del Popolo was one of his favourite hangouts.
Outside his house you will see a somewhat unconventional plaque dedicated to the couple, a more traditional tribute to Fellini can be found on Via Veneto which was immortalised in his 1960 film La Dolce Vita
Now backtrack the way you came, and stroll until you arrive at number 53b, on the left. A small door leads into one of the remaining artisan craft shops, La Bottega del Marmoraro. This marble workshop was founded in 1967 by Enrico Fiorentini and is now run by his son Sandro. Here you can find a truly Roman souvenir by either selecting one of the marble tablets inscribed with Latin or Italian phrases, or alternatively personalise your own to see the mastery at work.
Continue walking until you come to number 51 on the left.
The rather nondescript entrance is nevertheless further evidence of Via Margutta’s star-studded past. Film aficionados will recognise the address ‘Margutta 51’ as Gregory Peck’s character’s residence in the film Roman Holiday. While Via Margutta was chiefly considered the core of Rome’s art scene well into the 20th century, the 1953 film Roman Holiday immediately added a touch of Hollywood glamour to its charms and gained the street an international fame. Despite the gate usually being locked, fans of the film still regularly come to see the location of the classic Audrey Hepburn film.
A little further on, still on the left side, is the gated entrance to Margutta 54, the historic home of the noble Moncada family and site of our exclusive luxury suites. The picturesque courtyard is surrounded by the family palazzo as well as converted artists studios which were once the temporary homes for a constant stream of over 1,800 artists, including Picasso who spent two months here in 1917. The studios were purposely built for the artist community, with specially-designed loft windows to maximise the natural light
During the 1960s the address became a gathering place of glamour, with renowned photographer Johnny Moncada using the buildings for his fashion shoots and famous film stars, models, celebrities and paparazzi a daily fixture in the bustling courtyard.
Just along from the gate of Margutta 54 you will come to a drinking fountain on the left-hand side. This is the Fontana degli Artisti, the Fountain of the Artists. In 1927 the sculptor Pietro Lombardi designed a series of small fountains throughout the city, taking inspiration from each neighbourhood’s character Here he celebrates Via Margutta’s strong connection with art with a depiction of two masks, happy and sad, which reflect the ever-changing moods of an artist, crowned with a bucket of paintbrushes.
A little further and we reach the end of the street, to continue to see some of the highlights of the area, turn right down Via Alibert until you reach the intersection with Via del Babuino.
Via del Babuino is one of the main thoroughfares of the area and, along with Via del Corso and Via di Ripetta, forms the so-called ‘Trident’ spanning out from Piazza del Popolo across the Campo Marzio district.
If you turn right and walk two blocks you can find the street’s namesake. On the left side there is a fountain topped with a statue of Silenus, a mythological creature of half-man, half-goat. The Roman people considered the figure to look deformed, calling it a baboon (babuino in Italian) thus earning the street its name. Behind the fountain is the Café Canova Tadolini (https://www.canovatadolini.com/), the former studio of famed sculptor Antonio Canova, left to his pupil Adamo Tadolini. Although now a café, the atelier is still filled with sculptures providing a unique and immersive dining experience.
If you turn left on Via del Babuino it will bring you to Piazza di Spagna where you can admire the famous Spanish Steps where models once touted for business, looking for payment in exchange for sitting for the local artists from Via Margutta. To the right side of the staircase you will see the Keats-Shelley Memorial House (https://ksh.roma.it/ ) where English romantic poet John Keats took his last breath in 1821 at the age of 25. On the left is Babington’s Tea Room (https://www.babingtons.com/en), an iconic haunt of the British gentry who flocked to Rome on the Grand Tour and still a historic landmark of the square.
The perfect ending to the tour? Climb the Spanish Steps and admire the stunning view of Rome’s rooftops, spires and domes from the top. Rome Luxury Suites prides itself on offering visitors to Rome a truly unique and curated experience - one they won’t soon forget. From galleries to art lovers’ tips, we share it all on our social media channels. Follow us on Facebook . You can contact us directly atand Instagram