Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Streets of Rome: Via dei Giubbonari

For those of you that have been following this blog, you know by now that one of my personal obsessions is toponomastica (toponymy), the study of place names (one of the first words I ever learned in Italian before English!)

On Wendesdays I like to post about particular streets and squares in Rome and how they got their names. So far I have discussed Via del Mascherone, Via del Piè di Marmo, Via del Babuino, Vicolo dell'Atleta, Piazza della Pigna, Via dell'Arco della Ciambella, and Vicolo della Spada d'Orlando. All of these street names have one thing in common: they were named after an ancient artifact that was either found there, or still exists there today. I'm sure there are many more streets in Rome named in this way, (I haven't even scratched the surface), but it is certainly not the only way.

One of the most common ways to name a street in Rome in centuries past was after the artisans or workers who had shops in that area. This is particularly true of the originally working-class area near the Tiber. The first one that comes to mind is Via dei Giubbonari. This narrow but bustling street leads from the ever-popular Campo de' Fiori to Piazza Benedetto Cairoli and Via Arenula.

Via dei Guibbonari means, quite literally, Jacket Makers' Street. (On a side note I love that in Italy there exist such specific mestieri: not a tailor or a seamstress, no, a jacket maker. Not to be confused with a shirt maker or a dress maker.) I also love that this street, while no longer the location of any workshops devoted to the lost art of jacket-making, still retains, at least partially, its original purpose as it is now a relatively important shopping street. Boasting shops like Ethic, Vic Matie, Empresa, Dada, Lei lei lei, Angelo di Nepi and Pink, it is probably the most visited shopping street in the Campo de' Fiori area.

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