Piazza di Spagna - Spanish Steps, Rome

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Piazza di Spagna

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    Spanish Steps
    by zadunajska8
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    by imeley
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    View from The Keats-Shelley House
    by gordonilla
  • breughel's Profile Photo

    The most monumental steps of Rome.

    by breughel Updated Feb 15, 2014

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    Scalinata around 1850 - No tourists, wonderful!

    Best known and overcrowded by tourists is the Scalinata della Trinata dei Monti starting at the piazza di Spagna.

    Twenty years ago I visited the steps in May, best time when there are azalea flowers all over the stairs. I didn't try it again these last twenty years because there are more tourists than flowers on the steps.
    Avoid if you have, even a very slight, tendency to agoraphobia!

    Most tourists call the monument "Spanish steps" what might offend the French because the terraced garden stairs were paid by them as they were a project from Cardinal Mazzarin who had planned to erect at the top an equestrian statue of his King Louis XIV. But the Popes did not like the idea of such statue!
    Finally the 138 steps linked the Bourbon Spanish Embassy (at the Piazza di Spagna) and the Trinita dei Monti church that was under the patronage of the Bourbon Kings of France. The decoration of the steps shows many French royal "Fleur de Lys" emblems.

    The Romans diplomatically call the steps the "Scalinata". I do the same because "When in Roma do …"
    This proverb as such is not from the Romans who spoke Latin, if I remember well, but from the English around 1600 inspired by a letter from St Augustine to bishop Januarius around 390 AD:
    "Cum Romanum venio, ieiuno Sabbato; cum hic sum, non ieiuno: sic etiam tu, ad quam forte ecclesiam veneris, eius morem serva, si cuiquam non vis esse scandalum nec quemquam tibi."
    I presume no translation is needed.

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  • gordonilla's Profile Photo

    Spanish Steps

    by gordonilla Written Feb 9, 2014

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    I have to admit, that I was a little unimpressed by this tourist site. I had not expected anything and I sadly got that - nothing special. It was January and it was not so busy. I am sure in the summer with the heat and a blue sky it will be much better.

    There is a fairly good selection of artists sitting at the top of the steps opposite the church at the top.

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    Trinità dei Monti: Trinity on the Mount

    by goodfish Updated Feb 7, 2014

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    This poor church has had a kajillion shots taken of its face but hardy any of what’s behind the front door so here is what that looks like.

    Located in Italy, at the top of Spanish Steps owned by France, this is one confusing piece of real estate. And it’s not really very ancient (late 16th century), fancy or loaded with sculptures or frescoes by killer Italian artists. But if you’re going to stagger up ALL those steps to get a look down at the piazza from the summit, it’s as good a place as any to catch your breath...or have a heart attack within last-rites range.

    What we have here is an unassuming nave with a nicely arched but undecorated ceiling, hint of a screen halfway between, and the requisite side chapels. The chapels are more lavishly decorated with paint, the most notable of which are four frescoes dabbled by a student of Michelangelo’s who employed some of his mentor's sketches. That’s Mike himself peering out at you rather crossly from the right side of Daniele da Volterra’s "Assumption of the Virgin" (not shown here). The furrow in his brow would be even deeper had he known that his pupil would later take on a commission to cover - with fig leaves and drapery - the naughty bits of the master’s Sistine Chapel.

    The rest of the works are unremarkable but a pleasant browse. The church may also be reached from the top, without so much huffing and puffing, from Via Sistina. See this website for visiting info:

    http://www.060608.it/en/cultura-e-svago/luoghi-di-culto-di-interesse-storico-artistico/chiese-cattoliche/ss-trinita-dei-monti.html

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  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo

    The Spanish Steps

    by IreneMcKay Updated Jun 23, 2013

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    The least hideous picture I have.
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    We got here by taking the metro A-line to Spagna Station. On my first visit to Rome years ago I liked this area. This time I hated it. I hated it purely because it was swarming with people. We could scarcely climb the stairs at all due to the hoardes of people sitting on them. Photos, unless taken at an angle, just show a mass of people. I know I cannot expect to have famous sights to myself; I don't expect to, but visiting here was really just a total waste of time. Maybe early morning is the time to come. Personally, I would never bother going here again. Oh and one more thing - plonked right in the middle of the sight was the ugliest Christmas tree I have ever seen. It did a lot to obscure the church at the top and generally just make the Spanish Steps even more hideous than they were. On the other hand, my husband claimed he liked the bustling atmosphere of the area, so it takes all sorts.

    Oh, the house where Keats was ill and died is on the Spanish Steps. It is now a museum. I did not visit, but would probably have been interested in visiting ( since we had earlier been to see his grave) if the Spanish Steps had not irritated me so much.

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    No picnic

    by goodfish Updated May 15, 2013

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    This nod to Spain in the capital city of Italy is traced to the 1700's when the Spanish Ambassador to the Holy See had his embassy here. The square at that time was considered Spanish territory: wander into it unawares and you could find yourself an (unwilling) member of the Spanish military. The Spanish Steps? Not built by Spain. The church you see at the top (Trinita dei Monti) was founded by the French in the 1495, and funding from France built the 138 steps to connect the church with the piazza in 1723-25. Here also is the house where poet John Keats died, and a fountain (Fontana Della Baraccia) attributed to either the elder or younger Bernini.

    There's a law about not eating on the steps. As that's mentioned in every single guidebook I've seen it must be a real bee in someone's bonnet: not a place to bring your panini. Combine a walk-through with visits to Piazza del Popolo, Villa Borghese, Quirinale and Trevi Fountain as they're all roughly in the same area. And while this thing seems to be on every single tourist's must-do list, it's really no more than a stop en route to more interesting places. Do drop into the church if you have time and the energy to haul your fanny up all those steps.

    http://www.060608.it/en/cultura-e-svago/beni-culturali/beni-architettonici-e-storici/piazza-di-spagna.html

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  • GentleSpirit's Profile Photo

    The famous Spanish steps

    by GentleSpirit Updated Feb 27, 2013

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    You always hear about the Spanish steps, the reality is that there isn't much to do there except hang out. The Spanish steps are supposed to be the widest set of stairs in Europe? I really didn't notice their width while I was there, there were just too many people.

    Anyway, at the bottom is the Piazza di Spagna (Spain plaza) and at the top is the Trinita dei Monte church and piazza. The French had the stairs constructed. The church at the top was a French church and the piazza at the bottom got its name because the Spanish embassy to the Vatican was nearby.

    In the Piazza di Spagna is a Bernini fountain, that to be honest looks really strange. Its called " La Fontana della Barcaccia", it looks like a half sinking boat. After some of the other Bernini sculptures you will see in Rome this was sort of a disappointment.

    Right by the Spanish steps you will find tons of outrageously expensive designer stores. There were some decent restaurants nearby. Note however, the tea house at the foot of the stairs, lets just say 9 euro for a regular cup of tea should be considered criminal. There will also be the guys dressed up at centurions parading around. Remember, however, that if you want to take a picture of them make sure its from a distance because they expect to be paid.

    photo note- if you go to the top of the stairs and along the walkway there you can catch some nice pictures of the Roman skyline.

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  • solopes's Profile Photo

    World's passerelle

    by solopes Updated Sep 5, 2012

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    Rome - Italy

    When the subject is fashion, those steps are in everybody's memories. That's why, after seeing the Pope, everybody must go there.

    As a matter of fact, the local is not particularly attractive, specially knowing that it has Rome around it, but... who cares? You have to go there.

    Ok, we did, fortunately skipping the nearby shops.

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  • anilpradhanshillong's Profile Photo

    04-Spanish Steps 138

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Aug 29, 2012

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    A 10-minutes’ walk brings you to the Spanish Steps (Scalinata di Spagna) from the Trevi Fountain. There are plenty of signages placed strategically along the way. Once there, a huge flight of stairs, almost like a butterfly ready to take off, greets you with a fountain at the bottom and the towering presence of a Church at the top. Tourists sit all over the steps, striking poses while waiting to be clicked. Others are lazily soaking up the sun or generally ‘people watching’. You take their cue, find some space, plonk yourself and watch the street sellers and caricature artists ply their trade below in the square. Located at the base of the steps, on the right-hand side, is the house of the English poets, John Keats & P.B. Shelley. It is now a museum.

    There is nothing ‘Spanish’ about the 138-odd steps that lead up to the Church. It is a mundane means of transporting oneself from a lower level to a higher level and there are no escalators or differently-abled ramps to help you on your way up. Designed by Francesco de Sanctis, it was built between 1723-1726, to scale the Pincian hill and lead the pious from the bottom, which houses the Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Old Boat), to the top where the French Church, Trinita dei Monti, built in 1502, stands. Mercifully, the rise of the steps is low, a comfortable 8 inches, so you can easily negotiate your way up. Besides, the steps are broken by 15 wide platforms which allow you to catch your breath and rest your weary limbs. It is also one of the longest and widest staircases in all of Europe. During May, almost the entire staircase is covered with pots of azaleas.

    The fountain, in the form of a boat, is symbolic of the boat that rescued people and their possessions, during the devastating flood of 1588 when the River Tiber spilled over. It was built by Pietro Bernini and his son, Gian Lorenzo in 1598. The relief work of the sun and of the bee on the boat is a symbol of the Barberini family and of Pope Urban VIII. For a drink at the fountain or to fill up your water bottle, you need to bend rather low, almost to the level of the road. This was Bernini’s answer to the low pressure of the incoming water. The square around the Fountain is called Piazza di Spagna after the residence of the Spanish Ambassador to the Holy See in this area; hence the name of the place. The piazza is home to the prestigious boutiques of Gucci, Prada and Valentino making it a good starting point for your shopping.

    First Written: Aug. 30, 2012

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  • von.otter's Profile Photo

    The Spanish Step: Popular Gathering Spot

    by von.otter Written Jul 8, 2012

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    The Spanish Steps, Roma, May 2007
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    Oh, the streets of Rome are filled with rubble
    Ancient footprints are everywhere
    You can almost think that you’re seein' double
    On a cold, dark night on the Spanish stairs
    — opening stanza to Bob Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece”

    Piazza di Spagna is one of Rome’s most popular meeting places and one of its most majestic urban monuments of the Italian Baroque. Combining a monumental staircase — the well-known Spanish Steps — an obelisk and Trinità dei Monti, a handsome French church, it is also one of Rome’s most visually pleasing squares.

    Piazza di Spagna is one of the most popular areas in town, with hotels, inns and residences. It has been that way for hundreds of years. In the 18th and 19th centuries, English tourists taking the Grand Tour would stop at the hotels and inns in this neighborhood.

    As late as the end of the 17th century, it was called Trinità dei Monti, taking its name from the church on the hill above the square, but it was later given the name we know today once the Spanish embassy was set up in the square.

    Built on the order of Innocent XII and designed and built by Francesco De Sanctis between 1721 and 1725, the Spanish Steps, an architectural marvel, with its ramps and stairs that intersect and open out like a fan, beautifully provided a solution that connected the square with the church. Tourists from all over the world have adored this attraction ever since. Springtime is one of the most delightful times of year to see the Spanish Steps. The stairs are lost under a canopy of colorful azaleas.

    At the foot of the stairs is Fontana della Barcaccia (see photo #2), the work of Pietro Bernini, father to Gian Lorenzo Bernini (see my VT Things-To-Do Tips, “Bernini Angels, Parts I & II” for reviews of the work of Gianlorenzo). The fountain is in the form of a sinking ship; meant to recall the historic flooding of the River Tiber in 1598. It also is meant to illustrate a legend, a fishing boat, carried away in the flood, was found on this spot. Commissioned Pope Urban VIII, the sinking boat motif was invented by Bernini to compensate for the low water pressure in the area.

    Leading into Piazza de Spagna is via Condotti, one of Rome’s most fashionable shopping streets.

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  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo

    Spanish Steps

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Jul 1, 2012

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    Spanish Steps

    The Spanish Steps are a set of steps in Rome, climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church at the top. The Scalinata is the widest staircase in Europe.
    The square and the church are connected by the monumental Spanish steps, built between 1723-1726 (designed by Francesco de Sanctis).

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  • fabric_letters's Profile Photo

    Another Tourist Hotspot...but its gotta be done!

    by fabric_letters Written May 27, 2012

    Piazza di Spagna is home to the Spanish Steps and has been visited by almost every artist, writer or musician of the past century.

    Okay, they are a mighty impressive set of steps (138 in total) but they are just some steps after all, and if you can step over the crowds of tourists to make your way up you will find the church of the Santissima Trinità dei Monti which dominates the top and overlooks the piazza.

    At the bottom of the steps sits the Fontana della Barcaccia, a small boat shaped fountain which represents a half-sunken ship with water overflowing its bows.

    The steps are best seen in April when the steps are covered with pots of azaleas.

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  • zadunajska8's Profile Photo

    Iconic Image of Rome

    by zadunajska8 Written Nov 6, 2011

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    Spanish Steps
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    The Spanish Steps are one of those iconic images of Rome which you have to go and see and get your own picture of. They are very pretty and when the weather is good it feels quite important to walk up and then down them and sit down on the steps (if you can find space as everyone else is trying to do the same!) and have a quick sip of water.

    Once you've done this there isn't a great deal else to do however unless you are going to visit one of the other attractions nearby (such as the Keats Shelley Museum).

    There are a lot of street vendors trying to sell all manner of tat around here.

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  • GracesTrips's Profile Photo

    Spanish Steps in the Piazza di Spagna

    by GracesTrips Written Jun 17, 2011

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    You immediately notice the beautiful, fushia azaleas in pots. A magnificent church is located at the top of the steps. If you go early in the morning like we did (around 8:30am), not many people are there and it is a beautiful scene as the morning sunlight hits the street and the horse carriages are preparing to give rides for the day.

    We went into the church, Trinità dei Monti, and there was an early morning service going on. The music was like a Latin chant as words were spoken and the chanting was sung. It was chilling to listen to. No musical instruments and the echo of the voices from the acoustics in the church were amazing. I could listen to this the entire day by after 10-15 minutes, it ended.

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  • Arizona_Girl's Profile Photo

    Lovely views night and day

    by Arizona_Girl Written May 19, 2011

    We went at night. Our family went back during the day for some more great pictures. Lovely to sit and view with loved ones, but warn your females not to accept the roses from vendors. They will try to force or flatter them onto you and then pester the men in your group to pay them for the roses. Such a scam. Also if you accept one, they bother you all the more. But don't miss seeing it just because of those who will harass you.

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  • mindcrime's Profile Photo

    colonna dell’Immacolata

    by mindcrime Written Mar 20, 2011

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    colonna dell���Immacolata
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    At the SE corner of piazza di Spagna we noticed another tall column. It’s called Colonna dell'Immacolata (column of the Immaculate conception ). The column was found in 1777 under a monastery and Pope Pius IX used it as a monument to Virgin Mary in 1857 to commemorate the dogma of the immaculate conception. That’s why they topped the column with a bronze statue of Virgin Mary (made by Giuseppe Obici). There are also some sculptures at the bottom of the column like King David (made by Tadolini)

    There’s a ceremony in front of the column every year on December 8 when the pop crowns the statue of Virgin Mary with a garland of flowers, that must be interesting to see although I guess it will be packed with people.

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