Via Margutta, Rome
Written by Nicole Franchini Illustration by Marion Vitus
Olympic host 1960
“Via Margutta is an art lover’s dream,” says Giuseppe Petochi, “because you can actually sense the authenticity of this historical artists’ neighbourhood, whose tradition spans over five centuries.
While pointing out contemporary art galleries such as the burgeoning-artist focused Galleria Vittoria (No. 103), and Erica Fiorentini (No. 17), as well as the prestigious Goffi Carboni Antiquariato Gallery (No. 9), Petochi explains, “the charming ateliers and artisan bottegas at No. 53 – the Studi Patrizi built in 1858 at the foot of the Villa Borghese Park – have gradually opened in hidden courtyards to host artists from 28 nations and five continents including such illustrious names as Picasso, Guttuso, Severini, and De Chirico.”
This rich cultural heritage is explicitly documented in the newly released Atelier a via Margutta: Cinque secoli di cultura Internazionale a Roma, by Valentina Moncada di Paternò, presented this April at the annual Via Margutta Art Festival, ‘100 Painters.’
The street offers more than art galleries: you can find high-end lines such as luxury linen brand Pratesi, Artemide design lighting, Flair unique home dècor, or Lelli classic interior design showroom. The original artisan’s workshops include the architect studio of Giovanni Rosa, who preserves the family tradition of antique restoration; and Bruno Muratori, who specialises in antique reproduction frames.
We make our way back to Petochi’s boutique, where he continues the fourth-generation family craft, creating innovative pieces in graphite or titanium, and custom works with precious gems, while also incorporating an exquisite collection of rare Roman miniature mosaics from the 18th century in wearable pieces. Giuseppe then leads us next door for one of Rome’s best espressos in the courtyard ofBabette Bar & Ristorante. “I often come here with clients for the excellent buffet selection at lunch-time prepared by [the] owner, Silvia. Her sister, Flora, greets guests in the bistro atmosphere of the restaurant.”
Two other choices for a casual meal right on Via Margutta are the Margutta RistorArte, where you can eat innovative vegetarian selections while gazing at the artists’ works adorning walls; and Osteria Margutta, which serves classic Roman dishes within its theatrical dècor dining room, or out at the pavement tables.
“And finally let’s not forget that Via Margutta was also the home of Federico Fellini as well as many other actors, and where Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck were filmed in scenes from Roman Holiday! at No. 51.
NOTE: Just as in Italy’s small towns, businesses on Via Margutta close for most of August.
Native Roman Giuseppe Petochi strolls down his beloved artist’s quarters on Via Margutta towards his jewellery store at No. 1, where, since 1884, his family has been designing and hand-crafting original pieces for European royal families, including members of the Savoia Family. “I adore the contrast of the bustle of tourists just around the corner at the Piazza di Spagna or Piazza del Popolo with the utter tranquillity of this hidden cobble-stoned pedestrian-only street with its ivy and jasmine covered pastel houses like that of a small village.”
Games of the XVII Olympiad
The 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome happened some 50 years after first being awarded the games. Rome had been awarded the 1908 Summer Olympics, but after the 1906 eruption of Mount Vesuvius, was forced to decline, at which point it was passed to London. One of the games’ many highlights was the future king of Greece, Constantine II, winning a gold for his country in sailing.