The Piazza di Spagna, or Spanish Square is one of Rome's most famous squares, as well as a wonderful spot for people watching and more. The name derives from Palazzi di Spagna, the Spanish Embassy building for the Vatican, which has been located on this square since the 17th century. Lying in one of Rome's most popular neighborhoods, the square houses many impressive 17th and 18th century villas. The Piazza joins so many of Rome's best attractions together, so is the perfect starting point for any trip around the city.
The Spanish Steps
To get fantastic views of Rome, climb the Spanish Steps to the top of Pincian Hill. The "Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti" were built at the beginning of the eighteenth century connecting Piazza di Spagna and the Church of Trinità dei Monti. They were built on the orders of Pope Benedict XIII between 1723 and 1725, and unveiled under the papacy of Innocent XIII. The 135 steps are a popular tourist attraction and a fine place to relax and enjoy the views and watch people go about their day. Every summer the Spanish Steps host a famous fashion show, and the steps themselves are used as a catwalk.
Fontana della Barcaccia
In the center of the square lies the "Fontana della Barcaccia" ("Fountain of the Ugly Boat".) This beautiful fountain was designed by Pietro Bernini to commemorate the disastrous flood caused by the Tevere river in 1598 but not finished until 1627. Pope Urban III placed the fountain in the square. Shaped as a boat, it has the emblems of the Pope's family, as well as bees and a sun, engraved into it. Stop by this fountain to take memorable photographs (or selfies!) and to enjoy the cool drinkable water pouring from the boat.
Piazza di Spagna has always been a cultural hub in the Italian capital. Artists and scholars have rubbed shoulders here since the sixteenth century. The Keats Shelley House, at the foot of the Spanish Steps is the last abode of the English poet John Keats, who died there in 1821 when he was only 25 years old. It contains a rich collection of paintings, sculptures, manuscripts and first editions of works by Keats, Shelley and Lord Byron. Treat yourself nearby at Babington's, an elegant Tea Room in the English style established 120 years ago as a tea and reading room for the many British people living in the city. The House Museum of Giorgio De Chirico also resides on the Piazza di Spagna. The abstract artist lived here the last thirty years of his life and the museum hosts many relevant works. From the square, you can access the famous Via Condotti, with its boutiques and luxury shops, such as Prada and Gucci. In the adjacent Piazza Mignanelli, you'll find the famous Column of the Immaculate Conception.