to See - The Spanish Steps
Though the name may not be entirely accurate (they were built by the
French), the Spanish Steps, or Spanish Stairs, of Rome deliver true delight to visitors of
any nationality. Some will say, "Oh, they are just stairs". But, as any
visitor to Rome knows, it is not just that they are a way to get from
Mèdici to the Piazza di
Spagna After all, it's how you get
there that counts as much as the destination, and few ways are as
famous as the Spanish Steps..
Constructed between 1723 and 1725 the Spanish Steps, or Scalinata di
Spagna, are 137 steps arrayed near the Piazza di
Spagna - a triangular outdoor plaza and one of Rome's most
frequently visited tourist destinations.
These dark, lovely steps, elegantly winding up a moderate graded hill,
connect some of the most active and delightful areas to be found in
Rome. In addition to being a way between sights to see in Rome, they
are beautiful to see all on their own. A pleasure anytime of year, they
are especially wonderful in Spring when the city festoons the area with
azaleas from its many municipal greenhouses.
Then, they are alive with flowers, people and the hint of the warm
summer to come. In Summer, Rome can be hot, in the mid-80s, the heat
lingering even into late October.
Nearby are some of Rome's most upscale boutiques and dozens of
restaurants, shops and sidewalk cafes. The steps themselves used to be
a favorite place to rest and have a small lunch, though that is now
Naturally, Rome being Rome, that particular law is often ignored.
At the bottom of the steps is the La Barcaccia
of the Old Boat), one of Bernini's many great
outdoor works in the Eternal City. In the center is a sculpture of a
ship that may have been designed by his son, Gian Lorenzo.
Commissioned by Pope
Urbano VIII Barberini in 1627, the water flows outward
through "leaks" in the ship.
While you are at that end, stop in and see the Keats-Shelley Memorial House.
Then have something cool to drink in one of the numerous bars before
starting your climb.
As you travel up the landmark, you will find three large flat areas on
which to rest and people-watch, shop or eat. At the top, be sure to
look back and admire the stunning view before continuing on to the Church of Trinta dei
More formally known as the Santissima
Trinita al Monte Pincio, its construction began in 1502
but continued for almost two centuries. Built in the late Gothic style, the
facade is neo-classical. Outside there's an obelisk, one of
Rome's many instances of this Egyptian-style sculpture, first brought
to Rome around the 3rd century AD.
Only a couple of blocks away is the infamous Via Veneto where
many an Italian girl, and mature woman, has been ogled and pinched in
the 1950s. Today, the area is tamer but no less interesting. It is full
of shops, restaurants and beautiful examples of Rome's architecture,
old and new.
No visit to Rome would be complete without visiting this landmark of
Rome. Though created by the French, and named for the long-gone 18th
century Spanish Embassy
to the Vatican, the Spanish Steps is an international delight to all.
the Eternal City