Via del Babuino, Via del Corso and Via di Ripetta are the three streets of Rome better known as Trident indicating the three streets that start from Piazza del Popolo, at the foot of the Pincio hills and go into the heart of the historic centre of the Capital, in the Campo Marzio district.
Running from Piazza del Popolo (literally People’s Square) to Piazza di Spagna, according to a straight and well-defined route, is the elegant Via del Babuino, twinned with Madison Avenue in New York since 2002. The mark of the architecture Valadier, the one who gave a new shape to the nearby Piazza del Popolo, is also found in Via del Babuino, where important palaces today house prestigious Hotels thanks to his genius.
Via del Babuino is one of the most interesting streets for shopping in the Capital. The windows of luxury shops are interspersed with palaces of great architectural and historical value. More or less half way along its length, you can find the atelier of the great sculptor Antonio Canova, left to his favourite apprentice Adamo Tadolini, and where today you can enjoy a good cup of tea, have a snack or a delightful aperitif among the copies of grand statues in gypsum, live testimony to two centuries of Italian sculpture.
The street changed its name twice: first it was called Via Clementina in honour of Pope Clement VII who had it built. Then it became Via Paolina in honour of Pope Paul III who had it restructured. At last, it took the name that it still bears today, due to the popular imagination linked to a small fountain on the street near Piazza del Popolo.
Built and installed at the end of the 16th century and used daily by the people, the fountain that drew water from Aqua Virgo (an aqueduct), represents a Silenus who according to Greek mythology, was an old, obese man, dressed only in goatskin. A figure so unattractive and like a monkey that the Roman people called it “er Babuino” (Romanesco for Baboon), a name that characterizes the whole street still today. The Babuino, that the Romans pronounce: Babbuino, is also one of the seven talking statues of Rome on which the Romans, starting in the 14th century, affixed and continue to affix today, satirical and blatant poems and messages (the so-called “pasquinate”), to anonymously criticize the rulers and famous people.