Visit Rome’s most iconic meeting place.
Piazza di Spagna is not only one of the most beautiful piazzas in Rome, it’s also packed full of things to see and do. A cultural, artistic, and shopping hub in the heart of the city, it has been an unmissable tourist destination since the time of the Grand Tour.
- Live out your Roman Holiday dream as you eat gelato while gazing up at the Spanish Steps.
- Enjoy a bird’s eye view of the piazza from the top of the steps at Trinità dei Monti.
- Get ‘Romantic’ at the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, the famous poet’s home in Rome.
What to See and Do
Whether you enjoy art and culture, or you’re more into shopping and cafe hopping, or you simply just want a place to hang out on a sunny day, Piazza di Spagna has something for everyone. Here’s a list of some of the highlights below.
The Spanish Steps
Built between 1723 and 1725 by order of Pope Benedict XIII, this monumental baroque staircase links the French church at the top of the stairs to the Embassy of Spain to the Holy See at the bottom. Its three tiers are a representation of the holy trinity, to which it is dedicated: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
It soon became an iconic meeting point for the city and was made even more popular to a global audience by featuring in the Hollywood classic Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn.
Be careful! Although you can still walk up and down the steps, as of 2019, you are no longer allowed to sit on them, and you may be fined if you do.
Trinità dei Monti
This impressive twin-towered church sitting at the top of the stairs was built in the 16th century by the French and is actually still a property of the French State today. Peek inside, and you’ll see artworks from Cesare Nebbia and Daniele da Volterra (a pupil of Michelangelo), amongst others.
The real reward for climbing all 135 steps, however, is the view from the top! Once you’ve left the church, take a moment to soak in the impressive views of the piazza below, and marvel at the skyline of cupolas in the distance. Can you guess which cupola is which?
The Barcaccia Fountain
This beautiful baroque fountain gracing the foot of the Spanish Steps has a peculiar name. La Barcaccia, meaning ugly or poor quality boat, was designed by Pietro Bernini with the help of his more famous son, Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Made to look like a half-submerged boat, its design was inspired by a flood in 1598 when the Tiber River overflowed, and a boat was carried into the piazza and remained there even after the waters retreated.
Keats-Shelley Memorial House
Right next door to the Spanish Steps is the final home of Romantic poet John Keats, who died at the tender age of 25 from tuberculosis. Keats, as well as his contemporaries and friends, such as Percy Shelley and Lord Byron, was part of a class of men who undertook the Grand Tour, the 17th to the 19th-century custom of traveling throughout Europe, with Rome a prominent destination.
The house is now a small museum furnished to look how it was when Keats lived there in 1821. It contains paintings and manuscripts from the period, and you can even see the room where Keats lay on his deathbed and wrote his final words. If you’re into the macabre, look out for his death mask and the lock of his hair.
Babington’s Tea Room
For those who want a taste of England in an Italian setting, head to Babington’s Tea Room, an elegant tea room established in 1893 by two aristocratic English women, where you can enjoy an authentic High Tea experience.
Back in the day, it was a popular spot for travelers of the Grand Tour who missed home, and it still remains today a great place to enjoy a break after a busy day of sightseeing. Head inside, and you’ll be transported back to 19th-century London.
The area surrounding Piazza di Spagna is famous for being the fashion shopping hub of Rome. Whether you’re looking for high-street favorites, such as H&M, or high luxury fashion, such as Prada or Fendi, it has a bit of everything. Tourists and locals alike scour the shops here in search of the latest trends.
Piazza di Spagna is located right in the center of Rome and is very easily accessible. The best way to get there is by metro, as it has a stop right on the piazza. It’s also within walking distance of many other Roman hotspots.
- Metro: Line A – Spagna
Pantheon (13 min.)
Trevi Fountain (7 min.)
Piazza del Popolo (8 min.)
Piazza Venezia (17 min.)
Did You Know That: 4 Interesting Facts
- The Spanish Steps are named so because of the Spanish embassy nearby, but the funds to build the steps were provided by a French diplomat, so they probably should have been called the French Steps.
- The first McDonald’s in Italy opened up on the square in 1986, much to the displeasure of many Romans. There was such an uproar that an article was published about it in the New York Times.
- Every spring, the Spanish Steps are covered in hundreds of flowering azaleas as part of a tradition dating back more than 80 years.
- Climbing the Spanish Steps can be exhausting, but luckily it’s not the only way to reach the top. There is an elevator on the right-hand side once you enter the metro station.
- The area where Piazza di Spagna is located today would have been of little importance for most of history and would have been considered suburban up until the 16th century.
- In the early 16th century, this area gained importance due to the presence of hotels and apartments in the area, where pilgrims could stay on their visit to the Vatican.
- In 1587 the Church of the Trinità dei Monti was consecrated by Pope Sixtus V, but there were only steep and muddy slopes connecting it to the square below.
- In 1654, following an increase in trade, King Philip IV of Spain purchased the Monaldeschi Palace and turned it into a permanent home for his ambassadors.
- In 1623, Pope Urban VIII commissioned Pietro Bernini to build a fountain in the piazza as part of his campaign to erect a fountain in every major piazza in Rome.
- In 1725, the Spanish Steps were finally completed and soon became the emblem of the piazza.
- In the 18th and 19th centuries, the piazza became a popular destination spot for the Grand Tourists, who helped turn the piazza into a cultural and artistic hub.
- Today, Piazza di Spagna is one of the most popular squares in Rome, mainly thanks to its iconic staircase and its reputation as a meeting point.
Address: Piazza di Spagna, Piazza di Spagna , 00187 Roma, Italy · view larger map