Via Vittorio Veneto winds majestically upwards from Piazza Barberini and is flanked by imposing, century old magnolia trees, laid upon colourful, tastily arranged flowers beds, whose leaved branches provide the much needed shade for explorers in the hot summer months. The street takes its name from the victory of Italia over the Austrian-Hungarian empire in 1918, which took place in the city of Vittorio Veneto, in Treviso, in the north of Italy, and marked the end of the war. It’s famous, above all, for its association with the world renowned, Italian film director, Fellini, who immortalized this street in the hearts of the Italians and the world with his film, The Sweet Life ( La Dolce Vita) , in 1960, featuring the incredibly beautiful Swedish actress Anita Ekberg and the Italian actor, Marcello Mastroianni, who, by the way, is one of few actors to have ever twice received an award as best actor in Cannes. In short, this street has always been frequented by celebrities and the high life, thus you’ll find gracious, elegant bars whose inviting canopies litter the sidewalks, the staff in waist-coats and uniforms, calmly attending their next VIP. One of my dear friends, Michael, always stays here in a rental when he comes to Rome because of the memories it inspires.
His enthusiasm has caught on to me too, as every time I stroll up this street I begin daydreaming of Hollywood, times past and the golden era of Italian cinema with actresses like Sofia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Claudia Cardinale etc. One must remember that the Roman Film studio of Cinecittà rivalled as a location with Hollywood during the 60’s and it is associated with many epic, academy award winning productions like “Ben Hur”, starring Charlton Heston, and “Cleopatra”, which remains, even today, the most costly film ever made. Its leading roles were played by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and their furious love life became an integral part of of La Dolce Vita paparazzi culture and via Veneto was the centre of it all.
Some Italians think that via Veneto has lost some of the charm of days gone by. I don’ t think that’s true at all. There was a sort of fall in grace in the 80’s , but now this street, and the surrounding area, is once again a choice for international visitors to Rome, from foreign dignitaries, to actors and even sultans. You’ll find some of the fanciest Hotels in Rome, in and around via Veneto. The rented apartments here offer striking logistical benefits, too, as within walking distance one can find the famed Piazza de Spagna, Trevi Fountain and Villa Borghese, which is an enormous monumental garden park, stunning in itself, and home to many important museums, noble villas and international schools, like the French Academy in Rome and The British School at Rome. This street is also home to the American Embassy in Italy.
The Café de Paris is very famous among Italians and visitors for its relationship with the world of entertainment and you’ll find an entire collection of really stunning photos of all these “greats” decorating the interiors. So, if you’re in to photography, then you’re having your cappuccino in the right place. The pleasant Staff are extremely welcoming and as you sip your coffee or champagne, you too will find yourself experiencing that 50’s_ 60’s feeling.
No roman holiday is quite complete without a visit to the Capuchin Church of the Immaculate conception, just at the end of Via Vittorio Veneto, close to Piazza Barbarini. The walls of the crypt below are decorated with the bones of friars and poor people which have been arranged to form elaborate and truly artistic designs. I know it’s not the place you might want to bring your girlfriend on a first date, but its profoundly macabre yet poetic atmosphere is decidedly and incisively moving. The crypt is a splendid, breath-taking testimonial to the fact that, even in death, art portrays its magic and beauty. A “must” for any Tim Burton fan.
Within two minutes walking distance you’ll find Palazzo Barberini. It was commissioned in 1624 by Pope Urban VIII, born Maffeo Barberini, a renowned patron of the arts. Since 1949, almost half of Rome’s National Gallery paintings have been on exhibition here and the collection encompasses works from the 13th to the 17th century. (The other half can be found in Palazzo Corsini in the famous riverside area of Rome called Trastevere.) In addition many of the ceilings have been decorated with splendid baroque style frescoes by a master painter of the period, Pietro da Cortona.
There is absolutely no getting away from it: be it in a hotel or a rented apartment, you’ve made an excellent choice in Via Vittoria Veneto. You’ve got culture, art and nostalgia. The numerous boutiques, cafés, wine-bars and restaurants, in or around via Veneto, are among the best on offer. In short, you can relish in the fact you have stayed in, and walked on, what is probably ……… the most famous street in Rome.
2012 Copywright by Rome City Apartments