Via Veneto "Sophia Loren is with Errol Flynn and Audrey Hepburn with Anthony Quinn". That mythical ditty sums up the recent history of this short boulevard which is the Champs Elysee or the Fifth Avenue of Rome.
In the roaring 1950's it reflected the glamour of the Dolce Vita, with Cafes where beautiful people sat all day hoping to be either photographed or discovered, and with the elegant shopping haunts of Hollywood-on-the-Tiber.
“Fashions fade, style is eternal.“
Yves Saint Laurent
The cafes are still here, as are most of the nice shops. The new feature is glass-enclosed outdoor restaurant areas which succeed each other down the street like circus elephants holding each others tails.
At the top end of Via Veneto you will see the monumental Aurelian Walls that have surrounded Rome for seventeen centuries.When the Aurelian Walls were built, during the last quarter of the Third Century AD, Rome's decline had already started. For the several centuries before that, Rome's protective barrier had been at the outer edges of the Empire: Spain, Syria and Northern England (where Hadrian's Wall in still today an imposing sight like the Wall of China).
In the last quarter of the 19C the Ludovisi princes took advantage of the real estate boom to carve up their huge estate into the upper middle class blocks you see today. They laid out a new boulevard, Via Veneto, with a wide curve to help the carriage horses make it up the hill from the Piazza of their neighbors, the Barberini. The last vestiges of the Ludovisi family (descended from Pope Gregory XV) are the Casino dell'Aurora among the trees high above Via Aurora, and the original Villa Ludovisi hidden behind Palazzo Margherita, the American Embassy.
Shopping on Via Veneto can be summed up in three words: leather, jewelry and fashion. These shops are interspersed with many of Rome's best hotels and coffee bars.