If you have had your fill of ancient Roman ruins, Renaissance palaces and Baroque churches, and are looking for something completely different, why not pay a visit to the Quartiere Coppedè (1913-26). What awaits you is the curious and quirky world of the Florentine architect, Gino Coppedè (1866-1927).
To call the area a quartiere makes it sound much grander and larger than it is. The Quartiere Coppedè actually amounts to no more than five short streets, all radiating from the Piazza Mincio, at the centre of which is the delightful Fontana delle Rane (Fountain of the Frogs). Each of the streets is made up of a mixture of private villas and apartments.
Shortly before the outbreak of the first world war, Gino Coppedè was commissioned to create a new residential district for wealthy professionals and public servants. He came up with a series of very unusual designs! All of his buildings are characterised by a playful use of detail, which never fails to surprise and delight. In his lavish use of ornament and colour, Coppedè was swimming against the architectural tide of his day. Modernism was the dominant ideology and ornament, let alone colour, was distinctly passé.
Gino Coppedè was born in Florence in 1866 and developed his love of decoration in the workshop of his father, who was a wood-carver. There, Gino and his brothers learned to carve intricate figures to adorn the homes of the Florentine bourgeoisie. The rewards of this apprenticeship would, in time, be reaped in full in a small corner of the Eternal City.
Coppede's architectural brief may have been in Rome, but this did not stop him from including many references to his native city in the design. We see the Florentine 'lily', the Medici coat of arms, the Palazzo Vecchio, Brunelleschi's dome etc..
The Quartiere Coppedè has inspired a number of film makers, including the director Dario Argento, who used it as a set for two of his most famous works Inferno and L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage).