Roma Capitale
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Typology: Streets and squares


Address: Via Margutta
Zone: Rione Campo Marzio (P.Spagna-P.Popolo-Pincio) (Roma centro)


"Noble simplicity and quiet grandeur" is how the great art historian Johann Joachim Winkelmann (1717-1768) described this small street in the centre of Rome.

Located in the Rione Campo Marzio on the slopes of Mount Pincio, between Piazza del Popolo and Piazza di Spagna, Via Margutta is a magical refuge for those who want to stroll in peace, far from the chaos of the Trident.

Here, you are literally catapulted into another dimension: ivy and creepers cover the facades of the old buildings, the shops of the historic centre make way for art and antique galleries, craft shops and restoration workshops.  Originally, however, Via Margutta was simply a narrow street at the back of the aristocratic palaces of Via del Babuino, housing their warehouses and stables, as well as the houses of the stallholders, masons, stonemasons and coachmen who carried out their activities there.

It began to be known as the artists' street in the Middle Ages, when an unknown craftsman opened his first workshop where he made portraits, fountains and railings, starting a flourishing industry that attracted artists from all over Italy and Europe, especially the English, Flemish and Germans. Slowly the shacks, stables and vegetable gardens were replaced by houses, pretty gardens and new shops.
Until 1600 it was called Via dei Nari, after the family of the same name that owned houses and land in the area.
Its current name, however, has uncertain origins.
According to some sources, it derives from "Margutte", a vaguely derogatory nickname for the barber Giovanni, who was big, ugly and not particularly intelligent and who had his shop here.
According to others, however, Giovanni's surname was Margut, as it would appear from 15th-century registers in Rome, which show a family with this name.
Or perhaps the name derives from the vulgar contraction of "Marisgutia", or "Drop of Sea": a euphemism for the malodorous stream that descended from the Villa dei Pincii, ran through it, and finally flowed into the Tiber.

In the nineteenth century, a young monsignor of Belgian origin, Francesco Saverio de Merode (1820-1874), bought the area, installed sewers and laid out the plan for the alley, which then became a real street. The street became the privileged residence of artists and the site of their ateliers, and has since been characterised by a lively and cosmopolitan atmosphere.
The greatest protagonists of the twentieth century have passed through here or lived here. These include painters such as Picasso and Guttuso, Giorgio de Chirico and Novella Parigini, musicians such as Wagner, Liszt, Puccini and Mascagni, writers such as Emile Zola, Gabriele d'Annunzio, Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Elsa Morante, Moravia and Sibilla Aleramo.
It was made famous in the 1950s by the film Vacanze Romane, in which the main character, played by Audrey Hepburn, was housed in the flat at no. 51 where Gregory Hepburn lived. 51, where Gregory Peck lived, via Margutta also hosted the stars of La Dolce Vita and famous directors and actors such as Anna Magnani, Giulietta Masina and Federico Fellini, who described it as follows: "Stairs, ladders, corridors that opened up among the vegetable gardens, then more stairs and ladders, a vertical landscape submerged in greenery, all the way down to the Viale di Trinità dei Monti".
Every year since 1953, Via Margutta has hosted '100 Painters', an event that transforms the street into an open-air art gallery for a few days. Artists from all over the world give life and colour to this enchanted place suspended in time, celebrating its ancient vocation.

Last checked: 2020-04-24 9:40