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What's The Big Deal About Rome's Spanish Steps?

Jul 24, 2008
One of the most popular tourist attractions of Rome is a set of stairs built by the French, yet named the Spanish Steps. Now, some might wonder how they can be a tourist attraction when they are "just steps", but that innocuous passage way between the Villa Medici & Piazza di Spagna is a marvellous journey in itself, regardless of the destination.

The 137 steps that make up the Scalinata di Spagna or the "Spanish Steps" were constructed between 1723 and 1725. They can be found not far from the Piazza di Spagna which is a plaza that is triangular in shape. The Piazza di Spagna is also one of the most popular tourist sites in Rome.

The steps are scenic, mysterious and elegant as they wind up a mild incline that passes through some of the most enjoyable and popular areas people love to visit in Rome. But it's good to glance down at these amazing stairs, because they are lovely to look at in their own right. They look delightful in any season but when the spring flowers are erupting all over Rome, the Spanish Steps are alive with the sight and smell of azaleas that pour over from the many greenhouses along the walk.

There is no better moment than to be on the Spanish Steps in Rome when the flowers are everywhere and summer is just around the corner. Now, Rome can get hot even into the early Autumn, so nearby the Spanish Steps are some of the finest Rome has to offer for shops, cafe's, boutiques and a huge variety of restaurants. In fact, there is a long tradition for locals and tourists alike to bring a light lunch to the steps and sit on a step and enjoy the day while taking in the atmosphere with your meal. And while "officially" such activities are illegal, custom often wins out over legalities and you can still get away with it.

When you reach the bottom of the stairs you will find another of the many great outdoor art pieces by Bernini called the La Barcaccia Fountain or the Fountain of the Old Boat. The ship that is the centerpiece of this stunning fountain might have been designed by Bernini's own son whose name was Gian Lorenzo. This wonderful fountain was built in 1627 under the commission of Pope Urbano VIII Barberini. The water from this fanciful fountain literally pours from the artistic "leaks" in the hull of the ship.

Enjoying a great work of outdoor art may put you in a literary mood so you can enjoy the Keats-Shelly Memorial House while you are there. After seeing two enjoyable sights, you may wish to partake in a cool beverage before you start your climb up the Spanish Steps.

Don't worry about getting weary on your climb because the designers placed three rest areas with plenty of flat space for you to relax, do some shopping, have a beverage or a snack and recuperate before resuming your climb. When you successfully climb all of the steps, look back on a gorgeous view and then it is on to the Church of Trinta dei Monti.

It took almost 200 years for this church, more formally known as the Santissima Trinita al Monte Pincio, to be built after construction got underway in 1502. The late Gothic style of the church makes it unique as does the neo-classical facade. The Roman fascination with Egyptian art is reflect by an obelisk that came to Rome in the third century that decorates the courtyard of the church.

If you are brave you may want to wander a few blocks to the well known Via Veneto but watch out, many an Italian girl has been flirted with and pinched in this neighborhood. While this pattern of behavior pretty much died out since the 1950s, it is still a fun part of Rome where you can continue to enjoy great food, beverages and shopping and admire the wonderful architecture all around you.

So put the Spanish Steps on your list of things you must see while in Rome. In that way you can say you walked on steps built by the French, named for a long gone Spanish Embassy and now an important part of your experience on your Roman holiday.
About the Author
The Spanish Steps are one of the great tourist attractions in Rome. Tourists flock to experience the magic and magnificence they weave. Here's some great tips for getting the most out of your visit.
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