Spanish Steps in Rome
Don’t forget to add the Spanish Steps to your list of must-dos for your holiday to Rome. It’s a prime people-watching spot, and since 1723 thousands of artists, photographers and A-list celebrities have all flocked here to see and be seen. The climb to the top gives you great views of the Piazza di Spagna, and the chance to visit Trinita dei Monti, a beautiful 16th century church.
If you visit in autumn or winter, it’ll be quiet enough to grab a spot to sit and drink in the atmosphere, or you can visit in spring or summer to enjoy the buzz of a bustling crowd. You’re near lots of other major sights, so a visit to the Spanish Steps is a great way to channel your inner Audrey Hepburn and begin your very own ‘Roman Holiday’.
Things to see
Before you start the climb, spends some time in Piazza di Spagna. You’ll find the John Keats’ museum, which is packed with memorabilia about Keats and fellow poets Mary Shelley, her husband Percy, and the infamous Lord Byron. You’ll also be able to get up close to Fontana della Barcaccia, the centre of the square since 1629.
To get your strength up before the climb, pop into Babington’s tea room to refuel with tea and cake. It’s been a mainstay of the Piazza since 1893 so you can be sure they know a thing or two about feeding hungry visitors.
Climbing all 138 of the Spanish Steps is a bit daunting, so take plenty of breaks to enjoy the views. When you reach the top, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of Fontana della Barcaccia and if you visit during April or May, you’ll see hot pink azaleas in full bloom, bringing even more glamour to this iconic spot.
Once you’re at the top step inside Trinita dei Monti, a 16th Century church and convent. As well as a peaceful contrast to the hustle and bustle outside, you’ll see paintings by Daniele da Volterra, who was a pupil of Michelangelo, and Mater Admiribalis, painted in 1844 by a young French girl. You can visit whenever the church is open. If mass is being held, you’re welcome to join in or wait until the service is over.
The Spanish Steps are in a popular part of Rome and near other major sights like the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. If you’ve got time, you’ll love wandering the maze of streets around the Piazza di Spagna that make up Rome’s ancient city centre.
There’s great shopping here too, just head for nearby Via del Condotti, where you’ll see famous fashion houses all competing for attention on the best shopping street in Rome.
Prepare for your visit
Timing is everything. To enjoy the buzz of a crowd, spring and summer are great. You’ll find more special events on too, including the famous Donne Sotto le Stelle fashion show each July. If you want to spend more time sitting and soaking up the atmosphere, visit early in the morning or late in the evening when it’ll be a bit quieter.
To be sure of a less hectic atmosphere, come to Rome in autumn or winter. Doing a weather check before you set out means you’ll be prepared if the weather turns chilly, and make sure you have plenty of suncream if it becomes hot. Comfy shoes are a must for all those steps but if you can’t manage the walk up, there’s a free lift at the metro station, which will take you right to the top.
You can choose from many companies for a guided tour, and there’s everything from sunset walks to architecture tours on offer. If you’d rather wander at your own pace, you’ll find the area reasonably well signposted, but a decent map will help you make sense of the maze of back alleyways.
How to get to the Spanish Steps
Hop on Metro Linea A, and exit at Spagna. You’ll see the Spanish Steps as soon as you leave the station. The nearest bus stop is at Piazza Barberini, about 10 minutes’ walk away. If you’re using public transport a lot, it’s worth picking up a travel pass at a tobacconist, bar, or metro station. The tickets run between 24 hours and seven days, and it gives you unlimited journeys on all transport so you can get to all the sights.
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