Have you ever thought to climb all those steps and have a look from the top? What do you see? I am talking about the Spanish Steps! This beautiful piazza has been the destination point for centuries for pilgrims and foreigners who arrived in Rome from the north – Piazza del Popolo – before finding accommodation.
But did you know that a few centuries ago only the southern half of the square was called Piazza di Spagna? (The Spanish Embassy to the Holy See is located there.) Back then the northern half (where the steps are) was instead called Piazza di Francia, after the French embassy…..and this French connection tells part of the story of the piazza.
When Louis XIV of France was king, Cardinal Mazarin, his advisor, proposed to build a monumental staircase up to the church of Trinita’ de’ Monti, featuring an equestrian statue of the French king out front. The plan was flat-out dismissed by the papacy and the project was shelved for almost a century when it was then finally built without the statue.
The “Spanish Steps” are a majestic series of three flights of steps that lead down to one of the most expensive streets in Rome, Via dei Condotti. In early summer these steps are completely covered by flowers….and not only… to this day travellers still come here just to sit on the steps to soak in the atmosphere and watch the street sellers and the caricature artists… soaking up some of the dolce vita…
Always worth a stop!
- Contributed by Simona Albanese, a native of Rome, a bit Kiwi and Aussie, living, travelling and moving around the world with her family, while sharing her passion for art and culture via her blog.