Rome Walking Tour: Spanish Steps & Via Margutta

Rome Walking Tour: Spanish Steps

Rome Walking Tour: Spanish Steps and Via Margutta.

🏁 By the end of the Renaissance, the popes began to rebuild the aqueducts, and the population exploded.

The architects developed the zone with straight new thoroughfares, which attracted mainly upper-class families and foreigners who could afford the pricey real estate. Artists and artisans followed.

Rome Walking Tour: Spanish Steps
Rome Walking Tour: Spanish Steps

Rome Walking Tour: Spanish Steps

This development left many important artistic landmarks from the baroque (17th century) to the Romantic period (18th to early 19th centuries).

This morning we’re exploring the area on the left of the Roman Trident. For the previous videos, you can visit the channel.

 ‘Roma Romantica’ refers to areas of the city that, in the late 16th century, were the starting point for a gradual rebuilding. They replaced  vineyards and wastelands that had occupied most of Rome’s area following the Roman Empire’s collapse with people and palazzi.

Right after this video, check the new episode for the second part of the walk!

The area is linked with the Counter-Reformation (16th-17th century), a vigorous response to the threat of Protestantism and remorse for the Renaissance’s worldliness and paganism.

Walking here, you feel the elegance of the 18th century.

Rome had a powerful impact on two key figures in the history of Romanticism and neoclassicism: Goethe, the  polymath and unrivaled interpreter of the  Zeitgeist, whose stay in Rome had a significant impact on his thought, and another German, Winckelmann, the archeologist whose ideas, formed the basis of neoclassicism in art. They both resided in this area.

Since the Renaissance, Rome has been a worldwide center of the arts and a  magnet for foreigners seeking creative and spiritual fulfillment. The flow intensified in the 18th century, the  archetypal age of the Grand Tour, and peaked in the early decades of the 19th century when the area gained its most distinctively Romantic character (kèracter). These visitors came primarily to see the classical ruins and spent their time there; however, most of them stayed in these newly redeveloped quarters.

🐒 Via del Babuino and Via Margutta

This area was abandoned when the Roman Empire fell, mainly because barbarians had cut the aqueducts.

Just in the 16th century, the popes started the works here. They faced two problems: bringing the water back and persuading people to move there. 

1️⃣ The popes repaired an ancient aqueduct which mainly ran underground. The name of the water it carried, Acqua Vergine (‘of the Virgin’), dated back to ancient Roman times when according to tradition, a young virgin led some thirsty Roman soldiers to its source.

The Acqua Vergine will be necessary for our tour, composed of two parts. 

The water flows under the hill on the left and descends to the Spanish Square, and then it flows to the Trevi Fountain.

2️⃣ Attracting people were handled with fiscal incentives. Foreign painters could settle here free of craft or trade taxes—many opened shops in Via del Babuino and the parallel Via Margutta. The artists were also attracted by the market for their work among the wealthy inhabitants of the Piazza di Spagna. Artisans soon joined the painters in related fields such as framing, color mixing, and dealing in art and antiques.

The two streets still show traces of this artistic, bohemian character, but ongoing gentrification has diluted it. Most of the studios on the two streets are now luxury apartments, and most of the colorful art-related shops are gone. But several artists still live on Via Margutta, and many antique stores, once famous throughout Europe, remain on Via del Babuino.

🚶‍♂️ Here we’re on via margutta

The name itself reflects the street’s bohemian vibe. Margutte, the braggart hero of a 15th-century comic poem, was named by the artists and artisans who originally moved here. Painters and other artists have resided here for centuries, as you may recall. 

Famous people who lived on this street include Federico Fellini, Giulietta Masina, and Renato Guttuso. 

Today, this charming street is home to a variety of art galleries and antique businesses. 

Via Margutta contains some of Rome’s most stunning vine-covered palazzi. Here’s where you can get your daily dose of green!

🥗 Via dell’Orto di Napoli

At the end of the block is the Anglican Church of All Saints, one of the first  Protestant  (pròtestant)churches in Rome after 1870 and the end of papal rule. A pure example of the English ‘Gothic Revival’ style.

The church was built to provide a spiritual haven to the substantial British population in Rome and is a testimonial to artistic currents sweeping through Victorian England at the time.

⛲️ The Fountain of the Arts

pays homage to Via Margutta’s rich creative past, with a bucket of paintbrushes and a pair of faces depicting the two main moods of all artists: full of joy and sadness. 

Rome Walking Tour: Spanish Steps ending

🔚 When authority passed from the papacy to the Italian state in the late nineteenth century, Rome experienced a profound and devastating makeover to become a “modern” capital. However, many portions of Roma Romantica have remained almost unchanged. Indeed, some of their beauty and emotional appeal bled into surrounding new neighborhoods erected in the end-of-the-century belle époque period. Other regions have deteriorated significantly. Ironically, the areas of Rome that are most in need of renovation today are those established after Rome became Italy’s capital in 1871.

🇪🇸 SPANISH Square

Piazza di Spagna, Rome’s most renowned square, is shaped like a twisted bow tie and flanked by towering, shuttered homes painted in soft colors of ochre, pink, and white. 

Expatriates and international visitors have traditionally frequented the area.

The Spanish embassy was here in the 17th century. The region around it was considered Spanish territory — anybody who unintentionally trespassed risked being dragooned into the Spanish army. The area was in the core of the leading hotel district in the 18th and 19th centuries, attracting guests from all over the world. Today, the piazza is crowded all day and, in the summer, much of the night. 

The Trinità dei Monti church at the summit of the stairs, constructed by the French in 1485, is noted for its stunning vistas.

I hope you did already watched the previous videos with that incredible view. In case, check it.

 I hope you enjoyed the tours. Subscribe to the channel and watch the next adventure! Ciao!!

Watch the Walk in the Borghese Park and Borghese Gallery

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