The areas around Piazza di Spagna and Via Vittorio Veneto, in Rome, were for decades a nucleus for film stars and the leisure class. All the essentials were represented: alta moda shopping on Via Condotti, dinner next to Federico Fellini at Caffé Doney, and dry martinis at the Hassler bar, atop the Spanish Steps. The past 20 years though have seen a tourist influx and a kind of glamour dilution. The beautiful scenery is still there, but Marcello Mastroianni in his black Triumph is not. That kind of excitement now resides in the vicinity of Piazza del Popolo, a grand square known historically for its ancient obelisk, twin baroque churches and public executions (a spectacle that was retired in the 19th century). Giorgio Cazzaniga, an exquisitely dressed resident of the area and the scion of the legendary jeweler, has witnessed the sea change firsthand. Here he gives us a taste of the new dolce vita.
“Piazza del Popolo was a neighborhood of artists and the Roman avant-garde, but this changed when Rocco Forte reopened the legendary Hotel de Russie in 2000. It’s molto, molto sexy and has been the engine of the area’s renaissance. Hollywood stars and beautiful foreigners stay here or at the least come for cocktails by Agostino Musichini, who is a genius.” ; Via del Babuino, 9
“Ma é una cosa stupenda! This is the place to find Karl Lagerfeld or George and Amal Clooney eating on the terrace which overlooks the piazza. It’s a charming, sophisticated place that draws a mixture of the beautiful and the wicked. It’s always as full as an egg. I know the owner, so there’s no issue getting a table even on a busy night. A true Roman never makes reservations.” ; Piazza del Popolo, 1
“The creation of exquisite handmade jewelry has been my family’s business for several generations and our boutique is located on a quiet street that runs along the Tiber near the Piazza. We specialize in extravagant, ornate pieces—no two pieces are the same. Our clientele over the years has included Grace Kelly, Princess Margaret, and Pope John Paul II for whom we created a gold and silver chalice with diamonds, rubies, and sapphires.” ; 18 Passeggiata di Ripetta
“An important wine store inside a Renaissance-era stable. I normally go to Buccone when I’m desperate for a few chilled bottles of Laurent Perrier. It comes at a cost, but what can you do?” ; Via di Ripetta, 19/20
“This is a small, very famous purveyor of eyeglasses. No one here can understand why it’s so famous, which is perhaps part of its charm. The fact that they have been making glasses for the pope for years might have something to do with it. Every time he comes in for a new pair, crowds form outside.” ; Via del Babuino, 199