Piazza di Spagna

A prime people-watching spot, this famous square is a superb place to enjoy the sun and see some fantastic artwork and architecture.

Embrace the hustle and bustle as people from all over the world converge beside the charming Sinking Boat Fountain in the Piazza di Spagna. Almost every visitor who steps foot in Rome finds themselves at this busy piazza at some point. Admire the lovely fountain, climb up the iconic Spanish Steps and see frescoes inside the rustic French Chiesa della Trinita dei Monti.

Amble along narrow streets past old apartment blocks and delightful restaurants to reach this small enclosed square. Named after the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See, the piazza includes architecture and design features from across Europe.

Purchase a cold drink or a cooling gelato from one of the nearby cafés and check out the Barcaccia Fountain, which was designed by Pietro Bernini. The water flows over the shape of a boat in tribute to the infamous flood of the River Tiber in 1598. Note the cute figures of a sun and bee on the end of the boat. These are a symbol of the powerful Barberini family, of which Pope Urban VIII, who commissioned the fountain, was a member.

Behind the fountain are the Spanish Steps, the most prominent feature of the piazza. Though their name declares them to be Spanish, they were, rather confusingly, designed by an Italian named Francesco de Sanctis. This network of staircases and ramps, which was built in 1725, bridges the gap between the square and the small church just up the hill. Take a seat on one of the stone steps and look down upon the crowds milling around below.

Continue upward to reach the Chiesa della Trinita dei Monti. This church was commissioned by King Louis XII of France and was consecrated in 1585. The most notable features are the central obelisk and the twin bell towers that stand either side of the modest main entrance. Don’t miss the selection of religious frescoes inside. Among the highlights is Daniele da Volterra’s exquisite Deposition.

The Piazza di Spagna is in the Municipio II area of Rome. Take the metro to Spagna. It’s just a short walk south from there.

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