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What's The Big Deal About Rome's Spanish Steps?
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 too much about getting winded on the climb because the designers provided three resting areas of flat plateaus for you to rest, enjoy some shopping or a snack or just watch the locals and tourists stream by. Once you get to the top of the stairs, don't rush on too quickly. Instead look back at the wonderful view of where you came from and the move on to enjoy the Church of Trinta dei Monti.
This lovely church was originally known as Santissima Trinita al Monte Pincio. While the church was designed and construction started in 1502, it took almost 200 years to finish the job. The Gothic style is unique and the neo-classical facade also makes this church a personality all its own. The Roman fascination with Egyptian art which started in the third century is evident in the courtyard of the church which displays an artistic obelisk.
Just a short walk way is a well known spot known as the Via Veneto. This location became known in the 1950s as a place where a young girl could get pinched by a flirtatious Italian boy. While that kind of forward behaviour has calmed down in modern times, it is still a great area of Rome to shop, dine and enjoy the marvellous 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.
The Eternal City offers a huge amount of art to see in more ways that just visiting the wonderful galleries and museums. In fact, Rome itself is one huge work of art as you will encounter magnificent outdoor sculptures in the gardens and buildings of this ancient city.