COPPEDÈ QUARTER, THE HIDDEN TREASURE OF ROME
It seems that most of the inhabitants of Rome never has been there. Or they are not even aware of its existence. But during a vacation in the capital city, including the Collosseum, Trevi fountain and Piazza San Pietro, it would be good to leave some space for the Coppedè quarter. It is a most ambitious artistic- architectural experiment ever undertaken in Rome, if not in whole Italy: here blends an eclectic mix of different styles: nouveau, neo-gothic, kitsch, baroque and modernism, all to perfection. In fact, the definition of ‘quarter’, for this complex of buildings around the nucleus square Mincio, between the street Tagliamento and square Buenos Aires, is excessive. In fact the area called “Coppedè” is part of the quarter called Trieste.
It owes its name to Luigi Coppedè, an architect, sculptor and decorator, mixing different styles, has given endless life to a corner of Rome. The entire quarter can be considered a milestone of eclecticism: it combines the dark style of the Gothic to the classical Greek inspiration, as well as gates and towers from the Medieval time to Baroque and decoration Liberty. Needless to give any definition: walking through the streets of the Coppedè neighborhood gives you the impression of being in a bubble: caused by the silence, so different from the chaos of the surrounding streets, but also by the atmosphere, just like in a movie.
Overall, the quarter Coppedè is made up of eighteen buildings and twenty-seven other houses and structures. The most charming way to get there is through the big arch that connects the buildings of the Ambassadors at the corner between the street Arno and Tagliamento: the particular aspect is that under the internal vault of the Arch, decorated with asymmetrical architectural elements, there is a large iron chandelier. Once past the arch that connects the buildings of the Ambassadors, you find the square Mincio, the heart of the quarter. At the center you found the fountain ‘delle Rane’, with the main pond slightly higher than the street level: perhaps that is why, according to the legend, the Beatles bathed there after an evenings pent at Piper in 1965. Decorated with numerous frogs, from each of them gushes out water.
There are not only fountains dedicated to frogs. Even the buildings of Coppedè have their own name. There are so-called “Villini delle Fate”, from the refined exterior golden facades and with numerous golden women painted above. In these building alternate with travertine, tile, glass, wrought iron and wood, is enhanced Florence, with the words “you are beautiful Fiorenza”: not by coincidence, from a short distance you can recognize the figures of Dante and Petrarch. There is also “Palazzo del Ragno”: named after a giant arachnid, a decoration above the main entrance door. Not to miss on the third level is the balcony: above there is an ochre-black colored painting of a rider between two griffins, topped by the word “Labor”.
To list all the details and decoration of this quarter would be impossible. You have to arm yourself with patience and maybe binoculars and, with calm, discover every corner of the Coppedè. The atmosphere, as mentioned, is suggestive. It is not a coincidence that these roads were used for filming several feature films of the atmosphere noir, if not worse. This is the case of “The girl who knew too much” by Mario Bava, but above all the two horror films of Dario Argento such as “The bird with the crystal feather” and “Hell”. In these streets, movies have been shot such as “The Omen” and “The perfume of the woman in black”.
TO EAT: In Rome there is no shortage of restaurants where you can sample the local cuisine. In the area we recommend to try the specialties of Larysa, which brings you back to the original way of the Mediterranean tradition. In particular those based on fish, such as salmon tartar with pistachio and Tabasco, or rolls of sesame potatoes with a yoghurt dressing. But even the prawns in coconut cover with cous cous and Gazpacho sauce. In the street called Po you find Bucavino: its shops are below the street level. Worth going down to enjoy the facilities of this restaurant, that does not betray the regional gastronomic tradition. Do not miss the fried potato skins. In both cases a complete dinner costs about 30 Euros.
TO ARRIVE: the quarter of Coppedè is not far from the Termini train rail station. To get there, just get off the train and take the buses 86 and 92: in about 15 minutes you arrive at the square Buenos Aires. On the other side stands the church of Santa Maria Addolorata and is behind the arch with the chandelier. You can also walk if preferred: it will take you only two kilometers along the streets Goito, Piave, then Salaria and finally turning right in the street Po.