When it was created during the reign of Pope Clement VII, today's Via del Babuino was called Via Clemenza, but the name changed with the erection of the Fountain of Sileno. Because the Romans thought he looked ugly, they called it the "Baboon's Fountain", hence Via del Babuino.
Already in the time of Pope Sixtus V, this area below the Pincio Hill was exempt from taxes as it was where many foreign artists lived and worked. The result was that Via del Babuino, but above all Via Margutta
, became one of the most culturally vivacious areas of Rome.
Orazio Gentileschi had his studio in Via Margutta in the 17th century and his daughter Artemisia, the most extraordinary female painter of her times, worked here. Between the 17th and 18th centuries, there was a large colony of Dutch and Flemish artists whose pictures of the city and its landscape helped diffuse admiration for Rome's exceptional beauty throughout Europe.
Later, again, Canova, one of the greatest exponents of neoclassical sculpture, chose to have one of his many studios in this street.
The narrow Via Margutta, hugging the foot of the Pincio Hill, is still fascinating even today. Its courtyards, balconies, glimpses of greenery, the whole ambience gives it a special flavor of bygone Rome.