Via dei Coronari (known colloquially in Rome as I Coronari) is a street in the historic center of Rome. The road, flanked by buildings mostly erected in the 15th and the 16th century, belongs entirely to the rione Ponte and is one of the most picturesque roads of the old city, having maintained the character of an Italian Renaissance street.
It is about 500m long and runs in E-W direction, between Largo di Tor Sanguigna and Piazza dei Coronari. From there the Vicolo del Curato is its west extension. Behind Tor Sanguigna the straight path continues east, passing under a scenic arch into Via di S. Agostino and Via delle Coppelle. The continuity between Via dei Coronari and the latter roads was destroyed in the 1910s through the opening of Via Zanardelli.
Via dei Coronari forms the south border of the neighborhood of Tor di Nona: to the southwest it laps the small hill named Monte Giordano, topped by the mighty Palazzo Taverna.
The road existed already in the Roman age, when it was part of the straight road correspondent to the modern axis Via delle Coppelle – Via dei Coronari, known under the arbitrary name of Via recta ("straight road").
The street name comes from the Coronari: these, also named Paternostrari, were the sellers of rosary beads ("corone" in Italian), holy miniatures and other holy objects; they had their shops along the road, strategically situated, since the way, leading to the Pons Aelius, was part of the itinerary to the Basilica of St. Peter along which walked the majority of pilgrims, entering Rome from the Porta del Popolo.
During the middle Ages, the road linked two different neighbourhoods; to the east lay the Scorticlaria, (a toponym used between the 10th and the 15th century, which during the Middle Ages became also part of the rione's name: Ponti et Scorticlarorum) so called because of the many dealers there in leather (Latin: scortum) goods; to the West lay the neighborhood Immagine di Ponte (the "image of the Rione Ponte"), named after a wayside shrine rebuilt in the 16th century on a corner of Palazzo Serra and still in place. This was commissioned by Protonotary apostolic Alberto Serra di Monferrato to Antonio da Sangallo the Younger.
During the Renaissance, the street was smoothed and paved by pope Sixtus IV (r. 1471–84). As in other roads of the city, the pope ordered that all the porticoes which flanked the street be walled up, consequently the street lost its medieval character. High prelates, nobles and merchants, attracted by the fiscal advantages promised by the pope to those who had built there, erected their elegant houses and palaces here, whose façades were often adorned with sgraffito paintings, most of which are now faded away. Many houses bore (and some still bear) mottos incised in marble plaques, which give us a hint of the owner's philosophy of life.
In the same period, the neighborhood became home to several decent prostitutes, the cortigiane, highly educated women who were lovers of prelates and aristocrats: among them was Fiammetta Michaelis (the lover of Cesare Borgia), whose home still exists in the part of the street west of S. Salvatore in Lauro.
After the Renaissance, the street and its surroundings decayed. The well-off moved from the Renaissance quarter further north to the rione Campo Marzio, in the zone of Piazza di Spagna.
After the Italian conquest of Rome in 1870, there was a project to enlarge the road, but the mayor of Rome of that time, Ernesto Nathan, canceled it.
The road has been largely spared the demolitions which affected central Rome in the Fascist period. Nevertheless, in 1939, because of the policy of diradamento ("thinning"), carried out by the city government in the old center, which envisaged the destruction of single blocks in order to lower the population density, the street lost its unity because of demolitions north of the church of San Salvatore in Lauro and near Via Vecchiarelli.
Starting with the 1950s, the shops of the road were occupied by many junk-dealers, which with time became antique dealers, transforming the road into one of the three centers of art commerce in Rome, together with Via Giulia and Via del Babuino. Since the 2000s, many of these shops have been substituted with others, like pizzerias, gelaterias and souvenir sellers, servicing tourists en route to St. Peter.