I don’t mean my real neighbors that live next door on Piazza di Spagna, although they could be called artists too: They sing in the shower in the morning, dance in the patio in the evening, and their culinary creations make my mouth water every weekend. I mean two famous personalities who used to live in the neighborhood and who enjoyed living in the very heart of Rome as much as I do. Being here helps me get to know them better, and maybe our love of the neighborhood connects our artistic souls.
Giorgio de Chirico was a famous surrealistic painter who lived, loved and created on Piazza di Spagna number 31. He was passionate about his art and passionate about his life. He died in 1978 at the venerable age of 90, and 20 years later, in 1998, his bohemian apartment on the Square, that had witnessed his genius, was turned into a museum – Casa di Chirico.
This is what Giorgio said about living on Piazza di Spagna, the home of many artists for centuries:
“They say that Rome is at the center of the world and that Piazza di Spagna is in the center of Rome, therefore, my wife and I, would indeed be living in the center of the center of the world, which would be the apex of centrality, and the apogee of anti-eccentricity.”
I love the idea that right now, at least for a short period of time, I’m also living in the center of the center of the world. Isn’t it exciting?
Johann Wolfgang Goethe left Germany in 1786 to live in Rome for 15 months. Pretty secretly, because he used the pseudonym of Filippo Möller to enjoy the pleasures of Rome undisturbed. He never stopped loving Rome, which was clear in his Roman Elegies from 1989, where he wrote:
Tell me you stones, O speak, you towering palaces!
Streets, say a word! Spirit of this place, are you dumb?
All things are alive in your sacred walls
Eternal Rome, it’s only for me all is still.
I’m gazing at church and palace, ruin and column,
Like a serious man making sensible use of a journey,
But soon it will happen, and all will be one vast temple,
Love’s temple, receiving its new initiate.
Though you’re a whole world, Rome, still, without Love,
The world isn’t the world, and Rome can’t be Rome.
Goethe resided in Via del Corso 18 with his friend, painter Heinrich W. Tischbein, and his apartment was also turned into a museum that you should definitely visit during your walks in the heart of Rome.
Our friend Goethe was right – “without love, the world isn’t the world, and Rome can’t be Rome”. Therefore, tonight, I’m going to enjoy another date with the eternal city, listening to the eternal whisper of its mysterious streets.
Stay tuned for more live reports from my Chique Italian summer! In the meantime, you can read previous live reports here.
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