It’s singularly profound that in William Wyler’s 1953 classic Roman Holiday, Gregory Peck’s conniving journalist Joe Bradley in the end chooses honor over remuneration – ultimately refusing to profit from a deceptively procured story about Audrey Hepburn’s starkly naïve Princess Ann. Bradley, by the way, lived at Via Margutta 51.
Seven years later, Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita would decisively contend that Bradley’s war was a lost one, and that celebrity journalism would careen unstoppably towards the ends of crassness and avarice. Fellini himself lived with his famous actress wife Giulietta Masina at Via Margutta 110.
Ironically, 1953 also saw the launch of one of the earliest contemporary art fairs, the still annually presented 100 Painters on Via Margutta, which is currently on from this weekend through May 6. And as we are now all too keenly aware, art gatherings have irreversibly coalesced with celebrity culture – cementing Fellini as a modern prophet, of sorts…and inevitably closing the circle.
But the Via Margutta, surely one of the most ethereally beautiful places in the known world for a contemplative stroll, has still somehow managed to exist beyond it all. Here, stylish design hotels share a street address with old-fashioned, ivy-draped inns, and chic but independent boutiques are still decisively outnumbered by classically cultivated artisan workshops.
Yet celebrity and fashion still mark its existence. As night falls here, the elegant Osteria Margutta draws sophisticated locals and Hollywood stars looking for something beyond the same old cacio e pepe: and at the far end of the street, hip vegetarian eatery Il Margutta morphs into a late night stylish dance party. (Unlike NYC, it’s legal to dance in restaurants in Rome.)
One of our fave places to stay in Italy’s capital also calls this street home, the aptly named Hotel Art, which flaunts a sort of futuristic, 23rd Century modernism. To wit, stark white egg pods act as reception and concierge desks, and Pantone hallways make getting to one’s room a bit of a hyper-sensory, sci-fi adventure. But its lobby and bar are fascinatingly fitted into a spectacular, deconsecrated 17th Century chapel – an extravagant reminder of the Via Margutta’s varied and unparalleled history.