The German writer and poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe stayed in Rome on two occasions between 1786 and 1788, in the company of his friend Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein, a painter.
If you are a fan of visiting the homes of historical figures, Casa di Goethe is one of the more atmospheric. It is now a museum and library overlooking a small courtyard, where there is an enormous palm tree threatening to break through to sky level at any minute. There is also an impressive wooden ceiling, tiled floor – and an air of quiet calm which allows the visitor to connect with the exhibits and the poet himself. I knew little about Goethe, but there is definitely a presence. In one room – and I was lucky to visit the museum with no others present – I had an unnerving feeling that someone was standing behind me, peering over my shoulder. On turning I found it was, of course, a portrait of Goethe – the man himself. I have spent many hours drifting round rooms previously inhabited by figures from history, but not all offer up such intimacy or a feeling that there is an element of the person still present. For some reason, I found Casa di Goethe enjoyably spooky.
Just as the Keats and Shelley House at Piazza di Spagna is a celebration of the historic connection between Rome and Britain, Casa di Goethe celebrates the German-Italian connection.
The house is an institution of the German Association of Independent Cultural Institutes and is home to a permanent Goethe in Italy collection (in German, Italian and English).
The exhibits relating to Goethe’s Theory of Colour are particularly interesting and demonstrate how forward-thinking he was. He published his treatise on colour in 1810. There is an explanation of his theories at WebExhibits.
Casa di Goethe is situated at the Piazza del Popolo end of the Via del Corso – and is easily integrated into a shopping or cultural trip by taking a leisurely walk up the Via del Babuino, stopping for lunch or coffee in the Piazza del Popolo, and then turning into the Via del Corso. The house is on the lefthand side. You may get waylaid by rose sellers in the Piazza del Popolo – I entered Goethe’s house clutching three roses. He was obviously pleased that I had arrived bearing gifts, because we definitely bonded.
Casa di Goethe is situated at Via del Corso 18.
Entry 5 euros.
For more information and Goethe’s own commentary on the sites he saw on his travels in Italy and Rome, see RomeArtLover/Goethe. His farewell to Rome in April 1788 is especially moving.