on January 19, 2009
Piazza di Spagna--------------------------This was the first port of call on our first day of sightseeing. Very easy to find and within walking distance from the hotel. The architecture in this area is really striking and it is very popular, bustling with life and street performers. Visitors from all over the world come to admire the twelve flights of travertine steps leading up to the Church of Trinita dei Monti. The steps are of varying widths. If you don't wish to climb the steps there is a lift outside of the Metro station.The piazza owes its name to the Spanish Embassy which was permanently established in Rome in 1647. The square was completed with the building of the steps in 1725 by the famous Italian architect Francesco de Santis.In the piazza at the bottom of the steps is a 17th century Fontana della Barcaccia, (Fountain of the Old boat). This fountain marks the place where an old barge came afloat when the River Tiber overflowed.In the 18th and 19th centuries the area around the Spanish steps was a famous visiting point for wealthy travellers making the Grand Tour of Europe.At the time this area was frequented by wealthy English visitors who made it their home and also poor artists and writers lived in this area. The area was so called 'Er ghetto de I'inglesi which when translated means the English Ghetto.I certainly felt that this area had a Bohemian feel to it.The dusty pink and yellow ochre buildings standing on either side of the steps make a great contrast with the stark white backdrop of the beautiful church. If you take a walk on the Via Condotti you will see the Café Greco which was built in 1760. The décor inside is very elegant with paintings and original documents belonging to some of it's famous visitors throughout time like; Keats, Byron, Liszt, Buffalo Bill and Stendhal to name but a few.The Via Condotti is a great street for designer shopping and taking in the view of the steps leading up to the famous church of Trinita dei Monti.At the end of the steps stands the church of Trinita dei Monti. It is Franciscan and was built by Carlo Maderno and Domenico Fontana. It is a very pretty church and when looking down at the steps I imagined a Spanish aristocratic wedding. The setting is perfect. I have always been a great fan of poetry and when I was a youngster loved Keats and Shelley and this is one of the reasons I wanted to visit this area of Rome as there is a museum which actually was the home of both these poets. It is situated in the palazzio to the right of the steps.
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