When in Rome you must climb the 174 Spanish Steps. This 200-year-old spot is the meeting place for locals. So, sit down, relax and admire the life of the Eternal city pass by.
The Spanish Steps were built between 1723-1725 by architect Francesco de Sanctis, who designed them in a Baroque style. The steps are irregular and not placed uniformly, in between vistas and terraces and the views of the city on the top are magnificent. The main tourist attraction in Rome, the steps have been the inspiration of many poets, writers, and painters who have included them in their works. Make sure you snap a shot that captures all the stairs – it is one of those travel memories you want to keep.
What's near and around
At the end of the stairs, in the Spanish Square, find the early Baroque Fountain of the Old Boat from Pietro Bernini. Its form is of a sinking ship and, it holds the legend that a fishing boat was carried to this spot during a terrible flood of the Tiber River during the 16th-century. In the right corner of the steps, lies the house of English poet John Keats, who lived there till his death in 1821. The house is now a museum dedicated to the writer, displaying authentic memorabilia of English romanticism. Plus, his room remains preserved as it was when he died. At the top, find the Trinità dei Monti church, commissioned by King Louis XII of France, featuring incredible frescoes. Why Spanish, if they are on Italian grounds? The steps were formerly known as Trinita dei Monti, after the church and the upper piazza. Now they are called Spanish steps after the lower Piazza di Spagna, aka the Spanish Square as the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See used to be located nearby.
In 1986, the first Mc Donald's in Italy opened near the Spanish steps. Several fast food protests took place against it and were led by Carlo Petrini. Three years later, he founded the slow-food movement. Many steps were damaged in 2007 when a drunk young man tried to drive a Toyota down the steps. The steps became famous to the Americans when the film Roman Holiday premiered to the US audiences, starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.
Good to know
Keep in mind that according to Roman regulations you can't eat food in the steps. The water in the fountain is said to be one of the sweetest in Rome. It comes from the Acqua Vergine, the supplier to the Fontana di Trevi. The water is drinkable, and you must try it. At the stone platforms at the end of the fountain take a sip or fill up your bottle.