Piazza di Spagna - Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps -- that incredibly sweep of architecture, lifting you from the Piazza di Spagna up, up to the extraordinary silhouette of the twin towers of Trinita' dei Monti (Trinity of the Mountains) and one of the 12 Egyptian obelisks you'll find in Rome (plus one more in the Vatican).

A twist of fate and nomenclature that they are named the Spanish Steps. Actually, it was the French who built them, to ease the way up to the French Church. But the Spanish Embassy used to reside at the bottom, hence the Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps. I never tire of walking up or down the steps (really!). They are beautiful at all times of day, all weather, even a cold rainy evening in February. Notice the three wide landings - reflective of the church they ascend to.

At the bottom, the famous fountain, La Barcaccia -- translation, sort of an old, ugly or useless boat -- by Bernini, either the dad, the son, Gian Lorenzo, or both. See how it seems to be sinking? Brilliant use of available resources, as the aquifer which is the source for the fountain delivers very little water pressure -- so no chance of a showy spray like the Trevi. Note the coat of arms - The Pope's hat (or rather, the crown, I guess) and Barberini bee of Pope Urban VIII.

At the top of the steps you'll have a wonderful view, but you are just a few minutes away from an even more spectacular view from the Pincio Hill at a far corner of the Villa Borghese. As you are facing the church, turn left. As you approach the park, take the ramp up to the prominent overlook (overlooking Piazza del Popolo, but so much more!)

  • Directions: the northeast corner of the Historical Center of Rome




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