How many times, strolling through Rome, have we, perhaps just brushing by, encountered a neighborhood that feels like a magical, fairy-tale place? Yet, upon closer inspection, one is captivated by buildings made of marzipan, reminiscent of ancient tales filled with monsters, gnomes, and witches.
Situated between the Salaria and Nomentana roads, in the heart of Rome, the neighborhood takes its name from the architect Gino Coppedè. The artist which designed and realized it between 1915 and 1927. It is a corner of Rome with truly unexpected, almost playful features—an astonishing amalgamation of Art Nouveau, Art Deco. With influences from Greek, Gothic, Baroque, and even Medieval art.
The inspirations and suggestions are numerous. The entrance is marked by a large arch (the “arcone” for the Romans), richly decorated with numerous asymmetrically arranged architectural elements. In the center hangs a large wrought-iron chandelier that connects the two Palaces of the Ambassadors. This leads to Piazza del Mincio with the imposing Fountain of the Frogs. Precisely 12 of them, known for the bath that the Beatles took there, fully clothed, after a concert held in the nearby Piper nightclub.
Surrounding the square of the Coppedè quarter in Rome, we find buildings of diverse shapes and sizes. The two most important structures, adorned in a redundant and fantastical manner, are the Palazzina del Ragno, featuring original Assyrian-Babylonian inspiration and distinguished by a large spider on its facade. And the Villino delle Fate, marked by complete asymmetry, medieval arches, and friezes crafted with an extraordinary use of various materials such as marble, brick, travertine, terracotta, and glass. One of the small villas in the neighborhood was once the Roman residence of the tenor Beniamino Gigli.
The enchanting and suggestive atmosphere has inspired various filmmakers who found inspiration for their films here. From horror director Dario Argento, who used it as a location for “Inferno” and “The Bird with the Crystal Plumage”. To scenes in Francesco Barilli’s “The Perfume of the Lady in Black,” Nanni Loy’s “Fiasco in Milan” with Vittorio Gassman, and Carlo Vanzina’s “The Sky in a Room.”
The arch crowning the entrance of the building at civic number 2 in the square is a faithful reproduction of a set design from the 1914 film “Cabiria.”
It offers a unique and unexpected visiting experience, once again surprising us with the eclectic charm of Roman beauties.