Hello there! How was your weekend? It felt like all the best fairs and shows were taking place this last week+weekend: 100% Design at the London Design Festival, Kirstie Alsopp’s Handmade Fair, Decorex, The London Foodie Wedding Fair… We wish we could’ve been to all of them but there aren’t enough days in a weekend!! 😦 We did make it to a couple though, which were fun and energising, and we’ll post about them here soon!
Meanwhile, we’ve been wanting to feature posts to draw inspiration/ideas from beyond the UK, so we have invited the lovely Rossella Di Bidino (author of Ma che ti sei mangiato) to share with us some of her favourite spots and buildings in her city, Rome. First up, Via Giulia. Take it away, Rossella!
Via Giulia. A never ending story.
I have the honour and the pleasure of walking along Via Giulia almost every day. It’s an endless love affair; she, Giulia is a female name in Italian, is always gentle, noble, and able to hide her age.
More than 500 years ago, Via Giulia was just an idea in Pope Julius II’s mind. Via, or Strada, Giulia was one of the first experiments of urban planning. The aim was to guarantee a direct and easier connection between the Vatican, Palazzo Farnese and major institutional buildings of 16th century in Rome. The Farnese Arch was expected to connect Palazzo Farnese with Villa Farnesina on the other side of Tiber. Pope Julius II commissioned the project to the famous Italian architect, Donato Bramante, who worked with other well-known designers: Raffaello lived and worked in Strada Giulia, while Michelangelo worked on the project of Farnese Arch.
Some history about the place:
Once upon a time, one could find bears, acrobats, concerts all along the Via Giulia. At the beginning of the ‘80s, the Friends of Via Giulia Association decided to make her a central part of Roman life, and received the support of Renato Nicolini, an important figure in Rome’s cultural life.
In May and June, free classical concerts were organized in Via Giulia’s hidden courtyards and churches. In the same years for some days the street was animated with jugglers, clowns and acrobats. In Piazza Farnese you could face a bear on a ring. Unbelievable! During the Christmas season, in windows of antique shops cribs from all over the world arrived. Those years were crucial for the current “fama” (reputation) of Via Giulia.
Now, in the 21st century, Via Giulia is a straight, one kilometer street. Alas the bridge that connect it with Vatican was lost a long time ago. You can, however, still admire the Farnese Arch, even thought it no longer reaches the other bank of the River Tiber.
When you do visit the Strada Giulia, you will probably take the same walk that I do every day!
Look out for:
- Hungarian Academy at no. 1. The enormous white building pretty closed to the Arch was made on a project signed by Borromini;
- Not less elegant, but on the other end of Via Giulia, S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini Church hosts Borromini’s grave, which was mentioned in Dan Brown’s “Angels and Demons”;
- Take a look at Raffaello’s place, Palazzo Sacchetti, which has changed many times over the centuries;
- If you need an aperitivo or just a quick drink, stay on Via Giulia. You can choose between a roof garden at Hotel Indigo or a quick stop at Da Alfredo Caffè;
- Finally, try to peer inside buildings and archways, and imagine a piano playing inside the now silent courtyards.
Places to Stay
Thank you for showing us round your favourite street! We loved Rome so much the last time we were there, can’t wait to go back!
Images: Rosella Di Bidino