For many, many years Rome has attracted foreign artists. Novelists, painters and archaeologists came here in large numbers to complete their cultural formation and to find inspiration among the ancient remains and Renaissance monuments scattered throughout the city.
Some visitors left behind them accounts of their stays. We have, for instance, Goethe’s “Travels in Italy” and Stendhal’s “Promenades dans Rome”. Commemorative plaques are also to be found, recording their presence.
Stendhal was a guest at Grand Hotel della Minerva (located in Piazza della Minerva) between 1814 and 1816. Herman Melville, the author of “Moby Dick”, stayed there in 1857. Richard Wagner stayed in via del Babuino 79, at what was once hotel Alemagna. The composer, Franz Liszt, was a guest at Albergo d’Inghilterra, in via Bocca di Leone.
Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir chose the albergo del Sole in piazza della Rotonda.
Two truly eminent statesmen of the twentieth century, Charles de Gaulle and Winston Churchill, were guests at Grand Hotel Plaza in via del Corso. In this street, at no. 18, we find Goethe’s house (Casa di Goethe). It is now a small museum dedicated to the relations between this artist and Rome.
At the foot of the Spanish steps in Piazza di Spagna we have the Keats-Shelley House, a museum dedicated to Percy Shelley and William Keats. The façade and interiors have not been changed.
Ferdinand Gregorovius lived in via di Pietra 89 and in via Gregoriana 12, opposite the building that the painter, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres chose to reside in during his first stay in Rome.
Our ‘trip down memory lane’ ends in via Sistina. At no. 48, we find Bertel Thorvaldsen; at no. 113, Franz Liszt; and at no. 126, the writer, Nikolay Gogol (1838-1842). Hans Christian Andersen resided at no. 104 while working on a novel set in Rome, “The Improvisatore”.