Rome Travel Guide

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Piazza Cavour


This looks like a postcard, but it's not

Finding respite from Rome's noise and traffic and frenetic pace can be a challenge.  The city has its huge parks, of course, but they're complex, often ragged, and intimidating in their grand scope.  Of Rome's smaller green spaces, one of the most inviting is Piazza Cavour.  It's just steps from the Tevere and the Castel Sant' Angelo, and just behind the enormous Palace of Justice.  Recently refurbished, it has lost the shaggy look it had not long ago (see photo at end of this post).  There's real suburban-style grass available for sitting or strolling or reclining in the mid-day sun. 

The gaudy Palace of Justice, showing off the authority of the state


You might want to begin your exploration of Piazza Cavour with a quick look at the Palace of Justice, which shields most of the piazza from some of the heaviest traffic in Rome.  It is sometimes referred to as the Palazzaccio, a term that dates from an investigation into the building's excessively long period of construction (1889-1910), and one that we would translate as "big ugly palace."
One of those jurists, looking back at the palace


Tourists are not welcome inside (we tried, but there's too much justice-oriented stuff going on inside), but you may be able to muster appreciation for 6 exterior statues (there are 4 more inside) of great Italian jurists, including Cicero and Vico.  The palace itself was designed by Guglielmo Calderini, who was apparently as disappointed with the result as the general public.  Although the palace remains an object of derision for its obvious gradiosity, the discriminating tourist might value the building as an example of the cult of excess that characterized public buildings that were intended to demonstrate the authority of the young Italian state.  Of course, the best example of that excess is the monument to Vittorio Emmanuele II in Piazza Venezia.


Monument to Cavour

Unlike Rome's large public parks, Piazza Cavour is a highly symmetrical, uniform, and contained space, qualities that produce a sense of shelter and calm.  From the piazza side, the palace seems less aggressive and more a welcome barrier to traffic noise and the movement of automobiles and scooters.  The gardens, dating to 1895/1911, are appropriately centered by a statue to Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour (popularly known as "Cavour"), a statesman deeply involved in the movement for Italian unification--though he died (1861) before Rome was brought into the union.  The Cavour statue is surrounded by allegories of Rome and Italy.  The work dates to 1895 and was accomplished by Stefano Galletti.

Chiesa Evangelica Valdese

There are other elements of interest in the piazza.  On one corner (to the right with one's back to the palace) is a 1911 church in the neo-Romantic style, the Chiesa Evangelica Valdese (the Valdese Community is a Protestant Christian sect).

Teatro Adriano

In the center back of the Piazza is the Teatro Adriano, a prominent space for film and theater.  Then there's all that nice grass, waiting to be enjoyed.  And, when you've had your fill of these pleasures, we suggest the bar just across the street at the left corner of the piazza, on via Crescenzio.
Bill

Piazza Cavour, before it was spruced up

 

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