Via Margutta is a narrow street in the centre of Rome, near Piazza del Popolo, accessible from Via del Babuino in the ancient Campo Marzio neighborhood also known as “the foreigner’s quarter”. Mount Pincio is nearby. Via Margutta originally was home to modest craftsmen, workshops and stables, but now hosts many art galleries and fashionable restaurants.
From the north the area can be reached from Via Cassia or Flaminia, passing then through Piazzale Flaminio, and through the city door in the wall that leads to Piazza del Popolo. From this point one walks several metres to the left of Flaminio Obelisk towards Via del Babuino, and on the left there is an alley that leads to Via Margutta.
From Piazza di Spagna, one can take via del Babbuino, turn right on via Albert, and via Margutta will be on the left.
Etymology and history
The name probably originates from the word “Marisgutia”, meaning “Sea Drop”, a gentle euphemism for a dirty stream that came down from the hill of the villa of the Pincii, used like a natural Roman Cloaca. Via Margutta was behind the palaces of Via del Babuino (Babboon road), where warehouses and stables were found.
At the base of Pincio hill, there were homes and shops of masons, marble cutters, and coachmen, who conducted their business in the areas.
In the Middle Ages an unknown artist opened the first workshop where the finest Roman craftsmen painted portraits, cut marble for fountains and forged metal plates, giving birth to a flourishing industry that attracted foreign artists (including Flemish and German), as well as Italians from other regions. These immigrants gradually replaced the shacks and stables with houses, workshops and gardens.
During the reign of Pope Pius IX, (1846-1878), a Belgian monsignor, Saverio de Merode, seeing the potential of the area, purchased land, built drains, and incorporated the narrow street into the public city plan.
Via Margutta today is a charming, quiet lane. Although it is fully in the city centre, it still maintains its garden atmosphere, perfumed by trees and vineyards, which has made it a perfect choice for artists, painters, sculptors, and antiquarians, even though many of former artists’ studios have been converted into flats and apartments.
Celebrating the talent
The Margutta Award is given to various VIPs from the world of culture, fashion and entertainment. The prize given is a sculpture by Angela Pellicanò, every year it takes place in via margutta, bringing once again the attention of the media to the street of the artists.