Finding a Gem in Your Backyard – Via Antonio Canova

I was born and raised in Rome, and the Spanish Steps Apartment has been in my family since the 1960’s. I thought I knew my little neighborhood. But it turns out, there are still hidden gems in my own backyard. It started with the 2010 Rick Steves Rome book, which we had purchased for our guests at the apartment. The book’s cover featured a magnificent golden colored house, studded with ancient statuary and architectural bits, on a charming cobblestone street. My wife Laura asked me if I knew where the street on the cover was located, and I had absolutely no idea. Trastevere? The twisty streets back behind Piazza Navona? The book didn’t say. My internet searches didn’t help either. We were stumped.

Then one day last fall I was coming back from running an errand near Piazza del Popolo, and I took a cut-through route I’d never taken before — in my own neighborhood. And there it was. Via Antonio Canova, named after Rome’s renowned neoclassical sculptor. The fabulous golden house was his home and studio.

The headless statue on the corner ...
The headless statue on the corner …
And another statue, this tome with a head but no feet...
And another statue, this tome with a head but no feet…

There’s also a plaque commemorating him.

Plaque about the sculptor Antonio Canova
Plaque about the sculptor Antonio Canova

And then, a little bit of cool street art at the end of the street, to remind me Rome is not stuck in the past but always changing.

Via Antonio street art
Via Antonio Canova street art by Emmeu

The moral of this story: there’s always something wonderful waiting to be discovered as you walk through the Eternal City!

P.S. If you’d like to see some of Canova’s works but can’t get over to Rome just now, there’s currently an exhibit, “Antonio Canova: The Last Seven Works,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.