Welcome to the Tridente neighborhood
Decumanus Maximus, Cardo Maximus, Via Appia Antica, Spaccanapoli, Strada Nova, Via de’ Tornabuoni, Via MonteNapoleone, Via dei Condotti. The list of legendary Italian roads goes and on and I know you’ve heard of them all. The Italian city of today is a palimpsest of the very best in urban design from eras – ancient Roman roads bisect cities, pushing you across to the outer limits of the empire. Beautiful Renaissance and Baroque palaces line boulevards keeping us in check with gorgeous history. Slick modern architecture sneaks its way into the landscape to change up our perspective on what Italy is.
Stand in the middle of Piazza del Popolo and you are standing at the gateway to Rome- ancient, Baroque and contemporary. Rome’s three main roads – Via di Ripetta, Via del Babuino and Via del Corso – radiate out of the piazza to form a trident-shaped network known. The Tridente was literally designed to transport your across the city for morning, afternoon and evening strolls. And though I can spend hours exploring and meandering the Tridente and the kilometer stretch of the Via del Corso, let’s be honest, I prefer the side streets which transform a city block into a universe of its own.
Via dell’Oca and Via della Penna
Two names, one street and perhaps the best block in the Tridente. Walk down Via di Ripetta from Piazza del Popolo, and take your first right on Via dell’Oca, an unassuming via that’s best known as a short cut during rush hour traffic and a great spot to park your scooter. Halfway down the street, the name spontaneous and purposelessly changes to Via della Penna. There are no fancy facades, just store fronts that on closer inspection are carefully curated showcasing unique artisan boutiques. This could be the city’s best kept shopping secret.
If there is anyone who can give you the true down low on this magnificent shopping enclave, it’s Elif Sallorenzo, founder of Artisanal Cornucopia at No. 38 Via dell’Oca. “Via dell’Oca is special. It’s a group of niche stores that come together and complement each other because we all have different items and a different point of view.” When Elif first scoped out the road, she fell immediately in with its personality- local and indepently-owned businesses with “all for one and one for all” vibe, and ever since, she’s been the street’s reigning champion.
Sit with Elif for a while, and you’ll be interrupted – by clients, friends and Via dell’Oca/Via della Penna neighbors. This is just part of the community vibe. At any given time, in any given shop, you’ll find more than just the owner or salesperson, you’ll find friends, and what I love- you’ll find boutique owners from the street popping in to see what is going on. Over the years, the owners come together to organize street-wide events, working to maintain the integrity of what 21st century authenticity is.
Explore the shops of Via dell’Oca
No. 33 Lucia Odescalchi– jewelry fit for a princess, no surprise as Lucia is from the historic Odescalchi family.
No. 34 Patrizia Fabri– historic milliner whose fascinators fascinate Ascot and every garden party
No. 37 I Marmottini – children’s clothing inspired by the Italian mountainside, made with natural wools
No. 36 Kromos – DYI Tracey Emin, Kromos Design is a gallery focus on custom neon signage
No 38, Artisanal Cornucopia expect to find items (for you or gifts) that you will not find any where else – hand-selected pieces from emerging designers, jewelry makers and perfumers, as well as original Artisan Cornucopia wearables that are break-out and one-off collaborations.
No. 39 Atelier Bomba– storied tailor and designer Cristina Bomba was one of the pioneers of Via dell’Oca, along with Caterina Valente/Hotel Locarno. Her haute minimal designs have always been chic, long beore
No. 48 Laura Urbinati – Laura Urbinati is a fashion designer originally from Rome, Milanese by adoption, and trained in the United States. Her line up includes beautiful clothes, lingerie, swimwear and home decoration, entirely made in Italy.
Explore the shops of Via della Penna
No. 55 Eau d’Italie perfumes from duo Marina Sersale and Sebastián Alvarez Murena of Le Sirenuse, the exclusive Positano hotel. You too can smell like the Costiera Amalfitana.
No. 60 to 67 Bang – This could be the most interesting of all shops on the block and interestingly more so, Bang takes up a bunch of storefronts on the street. Bang is Maria Vittoria Maresca’s wunderkammer and I’m not entirely sure exactly what it is – jewelry, clothing, accessories, home decor. It is worth the exploration.
No. 63 Fabrice Paris Fabrice Paris is a historic Parisian jewellery boutique but it has been open zero times that I have stopped by. I have the stinking suspicious that it has been consumed by Bang, and is now simply a window. But what a window, and door and signage, it is!
Across the street, it’s Negroni o’clock at No.22 Hotel Locarno. This is a wonderful spot for a morning coffee, the afternoon tea, shopping break or aperitif anytime. You’ll want to hold court at the garden lounge. And if you can, introduce yourself to owner Caterina Valente, whose also spearheading the Via dell’Oca and Via della Penna neighborhood association.