Tucked away in a corner of Rome, away from the tourists traversing in a frenzied manner for their next sight to check of their list, is a magical architectural marvel. The Quartiere Coppedè was brought to existence by Florentine architect, Gino Coppedè in 1919, hence the name sake and he tirelessly worked on it until he died in 1917. It is in a fairly unassuming area, aka, an actual neighbourhood of Rome where people of the 21st century live, a world away from the remains of 40AD which fill the town centre.
A short tram ride away to Trieste will have you in a whimsical fairy tale land that’s full of unexpected beauty and peace, away from the hustle and bustle. This enchanting conglomeration of buildings encompass styles ranging from art nouveu, ancient Greek, Roman baroque, mannerist, and medieval. It’s almost as if characters from different high school clicks have been put together in the form of buildings, thus making it a district much like the group of kids from The Breakfast Club. On first glance they don’t look like they should be stood next to each other, but they somehow coexist so wondrously together.
The best point to enter this small district is from the striking archway just off Via Tagliamento. It can be spotted by the outdoor chandelier hanging just underneath it, because why would we keep ornate chandeliers inside and why not make them out of wrought iron? Entering from here will make an impression and allow you to be filled with awe, every step you take further into the district. It is worth taking your time to really explore this area, and be astonished by its fontana delle rane (fountain of frogs) in the main piazza, its obscured golden spider insignia’s on entrance archways and take in the whimsy of the aptly named fairy cottages.
I was straining my neck to see every detail on these elaborate buildings. They were adorned with gothic gargoyles, cherubs, floral patterns, frescoes, Moorish arches and all sorts of wonderful things. There were some reparations going on at the time of my visit, but this couldn’t hinder the beauty of these buildings. They stood loudly, some with mustard yellow facades, others adorned with detailed story telling frescoes, and next to more elegant dusty pink and cream buildings. The area was lined with towering palm trees.
There was an air of carefree opulence that could be the only commonality between everything. Coppedè seemed to have wanted to astound but invite people here to his stupefying creation. I took my time taking it all in, with the handful of others that knew of this place of the beaten path. As crazy as it sounds, seeing this fantasy come to life and cemented in, well, cement, made me think we should never think what we are dreaming cannot become reality. Some of the craziest fantasies deserve to be seen in all of their garish glory and dared to be realised, much like Coppedè had done with this corner.