There is a small land of magic, hidden among the bustling streets and touristic attractions of Rome. While at some point it is inevitable that all the beauty of Roman architecture blends in one impression of the certain colour pallet, here is a place that will surprise you with its unusual architecture and fascinating decorative elements it holds. The district of Coppedè is as bizarre as it is beautiful. Rarely you will hear the standard tourist guides raving about this place and so it still remains one of the few city’s hidden gems.
The small neighbourhood of Coppedè was a creation of an architect Gino Coppedè, who came from Florence with a distinctive taste for intricate details and a knack for mixing up art nouveau, baroque and medieval style. Mainly the architecture of this neighbourhood was constructed as a homage to some of the works of the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi created in Barcelona. The entrance to Coppedè is through a magnificent arch at the corner of Via Tagliamento and Via Dora. A perfect way to welcome someone into the lavishing world of fantasy where fairies, odd patterns and various creatures reside and adorn the marvellous buildings that all together symbolise artistic liberty. Entering this unique and fantastic neighbourhood, you will walk under a massive chandelier, one that sways in the wind and adds to the dramatic look of the arch. The iron made chandelier is decorated with engraved seahorses and the base of it is a web made out of intricate and beautiful floral tendrils.
Going further from the arch and into the wonderland of this neighbourhood, next thing you will come across is a tiny Piazza Mincio where the frog fountain, also known as Fontana delle Rane, stands. Built in 1924, possibly as a homage to the turtle fountain in Rome’s Jewish Quarter, it is a decorative fountain filled with little frogs spurting water. An urban legend has it that when the Beatles played in the nearby famous Piper club in 1965, they loved the neighbourhood so much that after their show they ran down the street and jumped into the frog fountain by the end of their last set.
You will quickly notice by now, that the surrounding buildings are masterpieces abundant with decoration. The Villino delle Fate, translated into the house of little fairies, lies straight ahead. An architectural creation that seems as if it has been made out of different small villas mound on each other, composing of towers, turret, arches, columns, seraphs filled with details. As its name suggests, this odd masterpiece is dedicated to fairies and legends. There are frescoes depicting Renaissance Florence which is also a tribute to Coppede’s birthplace and a painting of Romulus and Remus suckling on their she-wolf mother. The house is made out of different materials such as marble, glass and travertine which in their blend make this a unique artistic realization.
Close by is another architectural gem, the Palazzina del Ragno, named after the large spider sculpture above the main door, reflecting Babylonian style architecture. It incorporates different materials like marble, wood, brick and stone together with various architectural styles. The third large building on the Piazza Mincio has no name, but its psychedelic entrance has been used in various films, mainly for horror ones. Scenes in movies like "The Omen", "The perfume of the Lady in Black" and "Inferno" during the 70s and 80s were filmed right there. The pattern of the entrance arch is just incredible with the perfectly combined blue and yellow design, and the black and white tiles behind it make up for an artistic delight. There are many other buildings in the neighbourhood which are breathtaking and each one is unique in its design. Although they are hidden behind fences and dense hedges it is not hard to take a peek at their architectural magnificence and the magical stories they tell with their rich decor.
While you are in this neighbourhood exploring the wonderful and eclectic architecture of Coppedè, make sure to make a break for there are some good restaurants in the neighbourhood and nearby. A very famous one is "Capo Boi", nestled in the heart of the Coppedè neighbourhood serving exquisite Roman fish courses and many more delicacies to enjoy. Close by, on the borderline of Coppedè and the next neighbourhood, there is the restaurant "I Butteri" famous for its good quality and delicious meat and barbeque. You are also very close to a restaurant “Osteria Chiana” where you might want to stop by for some energizing Roman classical dishes. Although this is not an old-school osteria but more of a modern bistro kind of a place, you will come across delicious seasonal dishes and some good desserts. Speaking of desserts, there is a wonderful place “Pasticceria Gruè” that will blow your mind with their pastries and chocolates as well as their savoury tarts and paninis. Don’t miss out on this one!