City Itinerary: a Romantic Walk in the Pincio

At one time, a stroll at the Pincio was the one favored by Romans.


North from the city center, they would mainly arrive here from three streets that all merged in Piazza del Popolo, Via Babuino, Via di Ripetta and Via del Corso. From these they would reach the Hill itself. While starting the climb, the environment turns almost immediately from urban to tree lined, with a cool boulevard that hides many surprises.


On the path towards Villa Medici and the so-called Muro Torto (Crocked Wall), one passes from places with a nice shade given by treed, hedges and flowers. The road retraces the old structure that in antiquity was at support of the land on which the Patrician Villas stood. Another connections leads to Villa Borghese, passing through Via dell Magnolie.


One should make up the trip by being told what to do by fantasy and heart, different if one is alone or within a group, whether one is mature or young looking for tranquility. Whatever the choice may be, the most beautiful reward is the view.

vista pincio

Salvator Rosa, already in the XVII Century, while moving from Florence to Rome, had understood the value of this place and placing his residence in the area. He was busy with artistic and political battles. He was polemical and pugnacious, contemptuous and closed in a world with his Lucretia, but he would calm down while walking on the Hill, followed by some of his disciples. From the Hill he would receive inspiration for his views and representation of monuments. From Salvator Rosa’s time, the view has changed but some things still remain, like the solemnity of the great Vatican palaces and especially San Pietro (Saint Peter)’s Cupola, the lines traced by the nature amongst the hills, from Monte Marino al Gianicolo (Marino’s Mount at the Gianicolo).


Here is a possible path, one for which smartphones and traditional cameras will be able to fill up a bag with a photographic hunt. However, other interpretations are possible, for example the historical one. This should be thought of by looking at the Napoleonic origin of the place, the first location of the Patrician villas or religious buildings. This happened when the French administrators wanted to give the City a more modern public path tha involved the hill and the area at its feet, where Piazza del Popolo began to form in a new way. Then, we should think about the time of the Roman Republic, in 1849, when the Hill was fortified to favor resistance to the French invasion, which produced many damages with the use of cannons.

piazza del popolo


It was then that was launched the idea of decorating Pincio’s boulevards with the Italian glories, by placing a series of busts that showed the Nation’s cultural and ideal richness. When the Republic fell, a number of those busts, which were sculpted in the meantime, even if only those more unpopular with the Papal power, were placed. In a second moment, even the others were placed, but the names were changed with respects to the person originally represented. After the fall of the Pontifical Power, other busts were added in addition to a series of monuments dedicated to historical episodes and characters. With this being said, one has been given a good reason for a cultural type of a stroll.


There is yet a third interpretation of the stroll, the more mundane one, tied to the Casina Valadier, which takes its name from the architect who had produced the first design during the Napoleonic era and later decided to work again on it after Napoleon’s fall. The Neoclassical complex, with a beautiful and large terrace, a café and the spirit of the great scholars. For weeks, Saul Bellow wrote at one of Casina Valadier’s tables.


D’Annunzio, as well, had loved and written in this place. Pirandello used to take here his unhappy wife, hoping she would find some tranquility. In more recent times, Peppino de Filippo celebrated here his golden nuptials with theatre. Many others have visited here. The world of Cinema has not failed to use it, for example Citto Maselli’s Time of Indifference (where the Italian original title is “Gli indifferenti”), which is an adaptation of a novel by Moravia, who had visited Casina even as a child. In a film made right after the end of the Second World War, Peddlin’ in Society (in Italian “Abbasso la Ricchezza”) by Gennaro Righelli, the fruit seller Anna Magnani, who enjoys a sudden wealth that is soon gone, has lunch here with an aristocrat in decline, Vittorio De Sica. The scene is made beautiful and moving thanks to the terrace of the Casina. Other films, like Eager to Live (in Italian “Febbre di Vivere”) were set here. In a clear night lit by the moon, there are many other films, as that was the chosen location. Why don’t visitors of Rome during their strolls make this location their own as well?


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