Campo dei Fiori (literally meaning a “field of flowers”) is a popular spot for both locals and tourists in Rome. But Casanova also writes of visiting this place in 1743. He was an adolescent, in fact even tells how he decided to shave his beard for the first time: “October 1st of the year 1743, [when] I finally made up my mind to be shaved. My down had become a beard. I felt that I must begin to renounce certain privileges of adolescence.” He was trying to find a career and impress the right people in Rome, where he hoped to make his fortune.
Luckily, he had already impressed Father Giorgi, whom he had recently been introduced to and who went on to give Casanova much invaluable advice about how to behave and who to spend his time with.
Casanova mentions the Campo dei Fiori in his memoirs in this period. First, he paid a visit to Don Gaspare Vivaldi with a letter of introduction from his cousin, Don Antonio. He does not name the house number, and I have not found this information myself. (If you know the number, please tell me!) C writes, “This excellent man received me in his library, where he was conversing with two respectable abati.” Don Gaspare also invited C to return the next day for dinner.
Then, after shaving and dressing in the “Roman fashion,” Casanova returned to sup with Don Gaspare (as he refers to him). “He was a bachelor and his only passion was literature,” wrote Casanova. “He loved Latin poetry even more than Italian and his favorite poet was Horace, whom I knew by heart.” Young though he was, Casanova made a good impression and was invited to return and “take chocolate with him in his library any morning.”
I visited the Campo dei Fiori last summer with my friend and guide Adriano Contini. You can see it was a rainy evening, though plenty of people were still out. The Campo has a statue commemorating Giordano Bruno, who was burnt alive here in 1600 for his writings, which were considered heretical. He was later considered a martyr for free thinking. The statue wasn’t there when Casanova visited, though he probably would have appreciated it as well as Bruno’s belief in freedom of thought.