"Via del Corso, Rome" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Wednesday 11th January 2012
This is the most famous street of Rome, which at present is a busy traffic way unfortunately leaving no space for crowds of tourists and Romans, and even no air to breath due to big quantity of exhaust gases (as it is nearly everywhere in Rome). It is a straight and fairly narrow street, nearly 1.5km long, connecting Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Venezia. Many fashionable shops are concentrated in the area between the Corso, Piazza di Spagna and Piazza del Popolo. Via del Corso followes the tract of Via Lata (or "broad way" because of its width, exceptional in ancient Rome), which was a part of ancient Via Flaminia.
The Via del Corso (the ancient Via Lata), commonly known as the Corso, is a main street in the historical centre of Rome. It is remarkable for being absolutely straight in an area characterized by narrow meandering alleys and small piazzas. It is stuffed full with shops and tourists. Nice to walk around, since it is a pedestrian only street. In Via del Corso there are many noble palaces and churches because it is the main street of the Trident; an important urban renewal took place between the fifteenth and seventeenth century to vehiculate the traffic to the major basilicas. Today is famous as a shopping street.
The present name derives from the famous horse races that took place along this street starting from the 15th century till 1882. There were also quite silly races of Jews on a mule, humpbacks, cripples, buffalos and donkeys.
From the 16th until the 19th century Via del Corso was a scene of famous all over the world Roman Carnival, which lasted for a certain number of days, when people without distinction of classes and social positions participated in this mass holiday. Often a colony of artists exhibited themselves with the artistic manifestations and decorated carriages representing allegoric scenes. On Tuesday of the Carnival week a candle battle took place: all the participant had a burning candle in their hands and had to dim the candle light of the other protecting their own one. On particular occasions the fireworks took place. After the feast was finished on the streets it continued in the fashionable halls of nobility and in taverns and inns of populace.
In the 19th century the Carnival took form of political meetings and finally disappeared.
Via del Corso is also wider than most streets in the centre of Rome, but even so, it only has barely room for two lanes of traffic and two narrow sidewalks. The northern portion of the street is a pedestrian area. The length of the street is roughly 1.5 kilometres. At one end of its narrow straight line is the obelisk of the Piazza del Popolo and at the other end is the Vittoriano. Via del Corso is close to the subway stop that takes you Rome's most famous sites in a jiffy: the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Barberini, the Fori Imperiali and the ancient Roman arena, the Colosseum; Piazza Navona – the pinnacle of Baroque crowned by the Fountain of Four Rivers - Campo de’ Fiori and the trattorias in Trastevere.
Via del Corso is located in the historical centre of Rome on the ancient road that connects two of its most famous squares, Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Venezia, along which the stately mansions of great Roman families and headquarters of the City’s very old and prestigious institutions are to be found.
The Corso runs in a generally north-south direction. To the north, it links the northern entrance gate to the city, the Porta del Popolo and its piazza, the Piazza del Popolo, to the heart of the city at the Piazza Venezia (formerly the Piazza San Marco), lying at the base of the Capitoline Hill. From the Piazza del Popolo, the Via del Corso is framed by two Baroque churches , Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto , and along the street are San Carlo al Corso, the Piazza Colonna with ancient column of Marcus Aurelius, the Galleria Alberto Sordi, Santa Maria in Via Lata, San Marcello al Corso and the Palazzo Doria Pamphili.
Nearby, shopping heaven: Via Borgogna, Via Frattina and Via dei Condotti all cross Via del Corso. Their boutique windows teem with the latest fashions designed by the most famous Italian designers. Numerous other shops offer exclusive brands like Prada, Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Tiffany.
If you're looking for something to spark your imagination, enter Via Margutta, the ancient ‘artists' street’, popular with those looking for the hottest restaurants, valuable antiques and a look at the artwork in the annual painting exhibit ‘One hundred Painters in Via Margutta’.
Continue towards Piazza del Popolo until you're standing in front of the Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli and steps to the Pincian Hill leading to the large Villa Borghese park with magnificent views of Rome.