Rome – an architecture walk in Nomentano

My visit in May 2018 was the fifth time I’d been to Rome and I’d already seen most of the classical and medieval sights in the Centro Historico, so on my day off I headed in the opposite direction for a change, north east from the centre, to the neighbouring districts of Trieste and Nomentano.

Trieste map here. Nomentano map here. City map here.

I really like Stile Liberty architecture, the Italian version of Art Nouveau, so the first stop was Quartiere Coppedè in Trieste, an architectural fantasyland created by Gino Coppedè, my favourite Stile Liberty architect. The palazzi surrounding the rotunda have Ancient Greek, Roman Baroque, Mannerist and Medieval influences amongst others. Video here.

My favourite is I Villini delle Fate (Fairy Cottages) built between 1920 and 1927. Click on the photo galleries to get an enlarged view.

Over the road is the Palazzo del Ragno (Spider Palace) so called becuase of the image of a spider above the front entrance. It’s stone carvings are very particular.

Then there are two palaces, the Palazzi degli Ambasciatori, joined by an impressive baroque arch which forms the entrance to the quarter. When I looked there were AirBnB flats available to rent in here. Next time.

The fifth palace is the Palazzo Ospes Salve, named for the welcoming inscription near the entrance. The interior features in one of the scenes in the horror film Omen.

The centre of the quarter around which the palazzi are located is Piazza Mincio with the Fontana delle Rane (Fountain of Frogs) in the middle. Legend has it the Beatles took a dip in it after a concert at the nearby Piper Club. It’s in pretty bad shape but it looked like it was being renovated when I looked at it on Streetview.

I walked there but I’m told you can take the 92 bus from Termini station, with line 92, getting off at Piazza Buenos Aires or Metro B from Tiburtina station to Policlinico and then with tram 3 or tram 19 to Piazza Buenos Aires.

Near Piazza Buenos Aires is Chiesa Santa Maria Addolorata at 81 Viale Regina Margherita with colorful murals on its facade. The church was consecrated in 1930.

After this I walked to Villa Torlonia, a large Neoclassical villa and gardens once owned by the wealthy Torlonia family. From the 1920s onwards, Mussolini rented it for use as his state residence. It was abandoned after the war but is now owned by the city goverment and open to the public as a museum. Video here.

However my favourite building in Villa Torlonia is this small fairy tale castle hidden away in a corner of a the park. La Casina delle Civette (The Tiny House of the Owls) was meant to be an escape from the main house. Originally known as ‘The Swiss Hut’ when it was built in 1880, it received a Liberty conversion in 1919.

The interior is packed with artworks, most noticably the wonderful stained-glass windows depicting plants and birds. Owl motifs are particularly frequent, hence the name of the house.

You can use the same €5 ticket for both buildings in Villa Torlonia.

After the park I walked back down Via Nomentano and turned back onto Viale Regina Margherita which is lined with Stile Liberty palaces.

Of particular note is Villino Ximenes at 2 Via Bartolomeo Eustachio.

Also the Hotel Villa Morgagni at 25 Via Giovanni Battista Morgagni.

Many other beautiful Stile Liberty palaces can be seen on both sides of the road.

An optional add on to the walk if you’re interested in the old stuff is the 4th century church of Santa Costanza, one of the most ancient in Rome. The ceiling mosaics are interesting because they blend pagan and Christian symbols together. It’s also known as the Mausoleo di Santa Costanza as one of Emperor Contstantine’s daughters was buried here. The final photo shows her sarchophagus.

And that should be enough excercise for one day! Hungry?

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