The Via Margutta is one of the most picturesque streets in the part of the Campo Marzio district in Rome that is unofficially known as the Tridente. Especially during the Renaissance period many foreign artists used to come and live in this street.
Via Margutta Rome
Via Margutta used to be called the “artists’ street” and runs parallel to and can only be accessed from the Via del Babuino. It is a fairly narrow street and counts no more than a couple of blocks.
It is situated at the foot of the Pincio hill and gets its name from a character in a 15th century poem by Luigi Pulci (better known as Morgante). This Margutte is a braggart, who sees a monkey putting on boots and taking them off again. He finds this so funny that he ends up laughing himself to death. Another theory holds that the name derives from a dirty stream that used to flow down the hill. The name of this stream was Marisgutia, meaning “Sea Drop”.
The Via Margutta used to be a street full of workshops and craftsmen (masons, marble cutters, etc.), but from the Middle Ages onwards the street started becoming an artist’s centre. Nowadays it is better known for its art galleries and restaurants.
The change became more pronounced when the Belgian Monsignor Saverio the Merode bought the slopes of the Pincio hill. He had regular drains constructed, which turned the insignificant alley into a normal Roman street.
Its outlook changed a lot after the film Roman Holiday became a success and many famous people, a.o. the famous movie director Federico Fellini, took up residence in the Via Margutta.
What to see
Every year the traditional arts festival “100 Painters of Via Margutta” is held, introducing new artists to the world.
Several of the buildings along the Via Margutta are characterized by beautiful courtyards. From the courtyard of n. 51, if the doorman lets you, you can climb the Pincio.
The British Academy of the Arts used to be found on n. 53b, which now houses a number of artists’ galleries. The same happened on n. 54, former seat of the Circolo degli Artisti, which closed its doors in 1960.
The fountain in the street is called the Fontana delle Arti and dates from the 17th century. The city embellished each quarter with a fountain dedicated to the prevailing characteristic of the area. The Fontana delle Arti is of course crowned by a bucket of paint brushes.