While today's Via dei Condotti is the showcase of Italian fashion and European style, it actually got its name from the underground water pipes, installed in the 16th century by Pope Gregory XIII to bring pure water from the reservoir of the Pincio to the Campo Marzio below.
This street inevitably became the meeting place for that extraordinary mixture of social classes living in the quarter: nobles, artists, foreigners, merchants, and humble folk whose work was connected with the port.
A Greek, Nicola della Maddalena, established Rome's most famous coffee house here in the 18th century, the Antico Caffe' Greco
It became the haunt of artists, stopping point for travelers, and reference point for intellectuals, especially the politically involved. The rooms of this café ooze with memories and on show are the signatures of many of those who have been here.
At the beginning of the 19th century, when the French under Napoleon prohibited trade with British possessions, the city's bars and restaurants were deprived of the exotic blend of coffees in vogue at the time. Instead of turning to surrogate blends, and so losing its good name, the Caffe' Greco became even more famous by continuing to serve excellent coffee but in much smaller cups.
Another important building in Via Condotti belongs to the Order of Malta. Founded in the 12th century to offer a hospital service to the Crusaders, the order's headquarters remained in Malta until 1798 when, thrown out by Napoleon, they had to seek refuge in the Rome of the Popes.