Bordered at both ends by two of Rome's most famous squares, Piazza Venezia and Piazza del Popolo, Via del Corso is the fundamental artery of Capitoline shopping. It is a straight line about a kilometer and a half long that offers items for all budgets and tastes: from the big names or big brands to the cheapest stores. With Via del Babuino and Via di Ripetta is part of the so-called Trident, a set of roads that takes shape between the 15th and 17th centuries as a result of major urban interventions carried out to connect the Porta del Popolo with the major basilicas: St. Peter's in the Vatican, St. John Lateran, and Saint Mary Major.
A must for shopping lovers, from here branch out the luxury and high fashion streets, temples of the most exclusive Italian and international brands: Via dei Condotti, full of charming boutiques of the most fashionable brands, Via Borgognona, Via della Vite, Via Frattina, Via delle Carrozze, Via Vittoria, the perfect streets where you can admire the creativity of craftsmanship and beauty of the items on display in the beautiful ateliers.
About halfway down Via del Corso, you will finally find the historic Galleria Alberto Sordi with its refined Art Nouveau architecture.
The history of Via del Corso dates back to when it was the ancient urban stretch of Via Flaminia. It was known as Via Lata when Emperor Aurelian decided to build a new wall - between 270 and 275 AD - to defend Rome from the invasion by the Germanic tribes pressing the perimeter of the Empire.
In the imperial age, it was here that famous people and emperors such as Augustus and Nero were buried, being an area of low population density. During the Middle Ages, the road was abandoned, mainly because of the frequent flooding of the Tiber. Only in the mid-15th century, it acquired new dignity thanks to Pope Paul II, the Venetian cardinal Pietro Barbo. A lover of ostentation, he built the splendid palace in Piazza Venezia and made it his residence. Via del Corso became the world capital of Carnival. On 9 February 1466, began the grand celebrations with allegorical parades inspired by Roman tradition and classical mythology. The ancient street also seemed perfect to host the exciting competitions that changed its name from Via Lata to Via del Corso, with a clear allusion to the wild carnival races. The pope established that races had to be held on each of the eight non-holiday days of the Carnival season with competing categories including horses, donkeys, and buffaloes. Children, elders, and Jews also took part in the competition. It was a mocking and grotesque spectacle, as wild as the original Carnival, and was partly interrupted in 1667 by Pope Clement IX.
But the most eagerly awaited race, which lasted almost unchanged until 1882, was that of the Berber horses, fast thoroughbreds of African origin, selected and trained for the occasion. They ran between two wings of screaming crowds in a furious and disarranged race along the straight to Piazza Venezia. Among the owners of the horses were the names of the most prominent Roman aristocracy, such as the Altemps, Gabrielli, and Rospigliosi families.
After the assassination of King Umberto I of Savoy, which occurred on 30 July 1900, the street was renamed Corso Umberto, while in 1944, the name changed to Corso del Popolo, only to return, two years later, to the current toponym.
Along the route of Via del Corso, which falls within the territory of four Rioni - Campo Marzio, Colonna, Pigna, and Trevi - there are noble palaces, churches, and monuments of great importance. Among these, we can mention: the 17th-century Palazzo Bonaparte, former residence of Letizia Ramolino, Napoleon Bonaparte's mother, now home to prestigious art exhibitions; the Doria-Pamphilj palace which houses the extraordinary homonymous Gallery; the church of San Marcello al Corso; the surprising Sciarra Gallery; the 16th-century Chigi palace; the basilica of Santi Ambrogio e Carlo al Corso, whose dome is the work of Pietro da Cortona; the house-museum of the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), at number 18.
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