Spanish Steps to Trevi Fountain, Rome

Spanish Steps to Trevi Fountain (Self Guided), Rome

An established tourist mecca, today's Rome is hardly imaginable without two of its much loved attractions – the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. Magnets for tourists as they are, these two sights are connected to a number of other, not less worthy of attention locations, such as the Fountain of the Longboat or Piazza Colonna and its centerpiece, the Column of Marcus Aurelius, to mention but a few.

The time-honored tradition of decorating the Spanish Steps with hundreds of flowering azalea plants dates back to nearly a century ago. Stop by the fountain at the base, walk half-way up the steps and look down; go to the top and marvel at the view down the steps and over the City. This then leads you to Piazza di Espagna and its surrounding attractions, including the Keats-Shelley Memorial House and the Giorgio de Chirico House Museum, which showcases real pieces of a very talented life.

The beautiful, rectangular Piazza Colonna is itself surrounded by several imposing buildings, in addition to the obligatory column and fountain. Take the time to look at the column’s carvings, then continue with one of Rome’s most amazing churches, dedicated to St. Ignatius of Loyola – a marvel in terms of over-the-top baroque interiors.

Save the Trevi Fountains for last, as they are best seen towards the evening when the foot traffic dies down. Beautiful beyond anything you can imagine, one would not mind turning into a fish and living in the fountains forever! Instead, you could pick a flavor from the nearby Gelato di San Crispino and call it a day.

For a great day out in this fabulous area, pick a day with nice weather and follow our self-guided walking tour.

Getting to Sight #1. The first tour stop (Spanish Steps) can be reached by Bus 119, 160, 61, 63, 913; also 40 Express and 116 electric bus, Train: FL5, R, RV, Metro: line A
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Spanish Steps to Trevi Fountain Map

Guide Name: Spanish Steps to Trevi Fountain
Guide Location: Italy » Rome (See other walking tours in Rome)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles
Author: clare
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Spanish Steps
  • Piazza di Spagna. Fountain of the Longboat
  • Keats-Shelley Memorial House
  • Giorgio de Chirico House Museum
  • Piazza Colonna. Column and Fountain
  • Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola
  • Piazza di Trevi (Trevi Fountain)
  • Gelato di San Crispino
Spanish Steps

1) Spanish Steps (must see)

The famous Spanish Steps is one of Rome's iconic destinations and a favorite meeting point. The steps got their name from the Spanish Embassy that once stood nearby, in Piazza di Spagna. Built around 300 years ago, this is the longest and widest staircase in Europe leading up to a beautiful 16th-century church, called Trinità dei Monti (Trinity of the Mountains).

Nowadays filled with tourists from all over the world, from as early as the 18th century it has been a popular spot with artists, poets, and later Hollywood filmmakers. The latter, in turn, attracted to the steps many beautiful women seeking to become models, as well as rich Romans, international travelers and people from all the other walks of life. The tradition of meeting at the Spanish Steps is now firmly embedded in the Romans as well as the guests of the Italian capital.

Sitting at the foot of the steps, to the right, is the house-museum of John Keats, the famed English poet of Romanticism, who used to live here. Also nearby is Babington's tea room, a place that has survived two world wars and numerous hardships prior to becoming a staple tourist attraction.

***Movie "ROMAN HOLIDAY": Joe Meets Ann Again***
Fresh after haircut, Princess Ann sits on the steps, enjoying the view, eating gelato. After taking compliments for her new look, she confesses to Joe Bradley that she had run away from school and takes his proposal to spend the day together before she returns. And here the holiday begins!

Why You Should Visit:
If you like places with a great deal of history and photogenic appeal, the Spanish Steps is definitely the one.
In terms of tourist activities, you can enjoy carriages, as well as many shops and bars.
And the main drag here is the picturesque views of Rome opening from the very top of the staircase, particularly at sunset. A truly unbeatable sight!

Best time to visit it is in the afternoon and later – also because of the heat.
Piazza di Spagna. Fountain of the Longboat

2) Piazza di Spagna. Fountain of the Longboat

With its Spanish Steps overlooked by the Trinita dei Monte Church, Piazza di Spagna is one of the most visited squares in Rome. While the famous staircase is a favorite spot among tourists to relax and enjoy the views, the area is practically synonymous with high-fashion and luxury, thanks to the many designer shops lying on the surrounding streets.

In this piazza, you will also find one of the most remarkable fountains in Rome, called Fontana della Barcaccia (“Fountain of the Longboat”).

Created in the 1620s, it is the work of Pietro Bernini, the famed sculptor and a go-to man for Pope Urban VIII on many occasions, who also contributed to the creation of the Neptune Fountain in Naples and made statues for numerous churches throughout Italy. Initially collaborating with his son, Gian Lorenzo, the old Bernini was later overshadowed by the young man's talent in marble cutting. In fact, this fountain is often attributed to both Bernini the father and the son.

The design is based upon a real-life event. Back in the 15th-16th centuries the River Tiber regularly flooded the area and a legend has it that one flood was so devastating that Piazza di Spagna remained submerged for several weeks. When the water receded, a boat was found in the square that inspired Bernini in his choice of a subject for the new fountain. The boat is depicted as half sunk in its basin with water spilling over the bows and trickling out of the side of the prow.

Many a people like to sit on the benches, basking in the sun, near the fountain, listening to its gurgle. Because of the low water pressure in the area, the water doesn’t come out in a jet and, luckily, no-one has ever thought of changing that by adding a pump. Famous English poet John Keats, who used to live nearby up until his death in 1821, is said to have heard the sound of water lying in his deathbed, upon which he asked that the words “Here lies one whose name was writ in water” be inscribed on his tombstone.
Keats-Shelley Memorial House

3) Keats-Shelley Memorial House

The Keats-Shelley Memorial House is a museum in Rome, Italy, commemorating the Romantic poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. The museum houses one of the world's most extensive collections of memorabilia, letters, manuscripts, and paintings relating to Keats and Shelley, as well as Byron, Wordsworth, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Oscar Wilde, and others. It is located on the second floor of the building situated just to the south of the base of the Spanish Steps and east of the Piazza di Spagna. The house was bought in 1906 by the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association. During the Second World War the collection was dismantled and hidden to keep it safe from the Nazis, and was returned to the house at the end of the war.

The poet John Keats lived in the house for several months and died here in 1821. According to the law of that time, because he died of tuberculosis, the house walls were scrubbed and scraped and all its contents were burned. The items on display belonging to Keats were donated by the Association. Percy Bysshe Shelley was a friend of Keats, but he never set foot in this house. At the time of Keats’ death, Shelley was living in Pisa, with his wife Mary (the author of Frankenstein). On hearing of Keats’ death, Shelley composed his famous elegy “Adonais” and dedicated it to his friend. Shelley died a few years later; he was drowned while sailing to Lerici in northern Italy and his boat sank during a storm. His body was washed up several days later and according to quarantine laws, he was cremated on the beach. Many people believe that he was murdered for his political beliefs.

Operation hours: Monday - Saturday: 10:00 am - 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Giorgio de Chirico House Museum

4) Giorgio de Chirico House Museum

Visiting house museums is always a must if you want to find out how a famous person lived and the Giorgio de Chirico House Museum won’t disappoint you. The great artist bought an apartment in the Borgognoni Palace and you can visit the entrance hall, the dining room, bedrooms and studio where he lived and worked from 1948 until his death in 1978. On an easel in the studio is his last, unfinished sketch of a bathing woman. You can also see his book collection and his paints and brushes. In the halls on the 4th floor you will find paintings which include “Il Mediatore”, “Donna in Riposo”, “Le Maschere” and “Bagnanti”. There are also sculptures and graphics from his personal collection.

Giorgio de Chirico was perhaps the greatest Pre-Surrealist and Surrealist artist in Italy, his work is on a par with Salvatore Dali, but his best works were executed between 1909 and 1919 during his Metaphysical Period, during which time he founded the Metaphysical School of art movement. Just as his beloved Gala was Dali’s muse, so his wife Isabella was De Chirico’s and there are several portraits of her and she figures in many of his paintings. In 1939 he adopted Rubens’ Baroque style of art and these works were criticized as not being as good as his early work. So to revenge himself on those he called “ignorant critics” he back-dated some of his paintings, which were then accepted with acclaim.

Guided Tours (English/Italian):
Tue-Sat and 1st Sundays: 10am/11 am/12pm (pre-booking only)
Piazza Colonna. Column and Fountain

5) Piazza Colonna. Column and Fountain

Piazza Colonna is part of the historic heart of Rome, and is named so for the massive 30-meter marble column of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Built in the Doric style and adorned with intricate carvings, this column was erected after the death of Marcus Aurelius in the 2nd century AD; however, during its restoration in the 16th century, Pope Sixtus V ordered a statue of St Paul to be set on top of it. Whether this was done in a bid to remove any lingering trace of paganism or to match it with Trajan’s Column (located nearby on Via dei Fori Imperiali) where the same pope had a statue of St Peter placed on top, remains unknown.

If you have a long lens camera or binoculars, do care to take a closer look at the reliefs near the column's top, as they are in much better shape than those near the ground level. Among the highlights, there are the strange and compelling images of a supernatural figure invoking a miraculous storm that once saved the Roman army during a battle.

While there's no doubt that the column steals all the attention, the square also houses a small fountain originally built in the 16th century to provide Roman residents with clean drinking water. Made of pink marble from the Greek island of Chios, it features 16 carved white marble lion heads around its oval basin. At either end of the basin, two 19th-century groups of dolphins wrap their tails around seashells, spouting water from their mouths.

The square is framed on three sides with the imposing buildings raised between the 16th and 19th centuries. One of them is the Palazzo Chigi, built in 1562, currently the official residence of the Italian Prime Minister. The other one is the 17th century Palazzo Wedekind standing on the site once occupied by the Temple of Marcus Aurelius. The beautiful columns on the ground floor of the palace were taken from the Etruscan city of Veii conquered by the Romans in the 4th century BC.
Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola

6) Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Dedicated to St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (commonly known as Jesuits Order), this 17th-century Baroque church was inspired by the Church of Gesù in Rome, built in the late 16th century.

The inner layout of the church is a common "Latin Cross" with the main section and side-chapels elaborately decorated. Because of the lack of funds to build a dome, a painter was hired to create an optical illusion thereof here. Pursuant to that, all the ceilings had been painted with an ingenious technique producing a visual perspective that virtually pushes physical boundaries outward. As a result, one can hardly imagine that the paintings above are actually flat. Standing in the circle marking the center of the main floor will allow appreciating this effect in its entirety. The elaborate painting on the main ceiling, depicting entry of St. Ignatius into Paradise, is sure to give one a stiff neck gaping at it. To avoid this, a large mirror is placed on the floor.

The other eye-grabbers here are a huge stucco statue of St. Ignatius, as well as the colored marbles, extensive gilding, and richly ornamented altars. The church is free to enter and is usually quiet. It overlooks the eponymous Loyola square, one of the nicest in Rome, which is also an attraction in its own right.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 7:30am-7pm; Sun/Holidays: 9am-7pm
Free admission
Piazza di Trevi (Trevi Fountain)

7) Piazza di Trevi (Trevi Fountain) (must see)

No visit to Rome is complete without seeing the marble marvel of the Trevi Fountain, and all year long during the day, the small Piazza di Trevi is crowded with visitors who want to see just that. At a glance, one may think that the fountain was built in the center of the city, whereas the reality is quite opposite, and it is the city that was built around the fountain.

Designed by architect Nicola Salvi in the 18th century, it took 30 years to build. Salvi himself never lived to see it happen, as he died halfway into the project. A peculiar thing about this fountain (one of the many, actually) is the stark contrast between its overwhelming grandeur and the narrowness of the surrounding alleyways and tiny nearby squares. This contrast is intentional and is meant to impress visitors even more, which is something they have no problem with, really, coming face to face with such a beauty.

The main statue in the ensemble is that of Oceanus riding in an oyster-shell chariot pulled by two horses, guided by Tritons. One horse is calm and the other is prancing – which symbolizes the two faces of the sea. On the one side of Oceanus is the statue of Abundance holding an urn, while on the other side is Salubrity holding a cup for a snake to drink from. Above the statues is a bas-relief depicting the legend of a young virgin who led Roman technicians to the source of water that feeds the aqueduct.

Each day, a small fortune (something in the area of €3,000 worth of coins) is thrown into the Trevi fountain for good luck. If you want some for yourself and have some loose change to spare, stand back to the fountain and toss a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder. The police make sure that no one pinches this money, which is then collected and used for charity by municipal authorities.

The fountain is particularly beautiful at night, after 10pm, when it's gorgeously illuminated and has very few people around, so you can virtually have the place to yourself.

The piazza is also home to several little shops and souvenir stalls, lovely restaurants for pizzas/pasta, and tempting ice cream parlors. A nice place to spend some time.

Why You Should Visit:
This marble wonder has to be seen in person to really appreciate its size and beauty.
Great walking distance from Piazza Navona, The Pantheon and, in reality, mostly everything.

The fountain is particularly beautiful at night, after 10pm, when it's gorgeously illuminated and has very few people around, so you can virtually have the place to yourself.
Gelato di San Crispino

8) Gelato di San Crispino

One of the top ice cream shops in Rome, Gelato di San Crispino offers a wide range of seasonal and changing flavors. The shopkeeper takes pride in the purity of his product, which uses high-quality ingredients without the use of artificial preservatives, chemical emulsifiers and prepared or frozen foods. Talk to the people behind the counter and you will also learn that though the gelato is handmade, each closed individual container is kept at the perfect temperature depending on whether it is fruit or spices and chocolate. Ask nicely, and they will let you try some different (unusual) flavors.

The shop is located a few blocks from the famous Trevi Fountain, so it is well worth stopping by on your visit there as service is quick. For some, the shop's inclusion in the 2010 Hollywood movie “Eat, Pray, Love” (starring Julia Roberts) is an added draw.

They have quite a selection of gelatos so don't feel rushed in picking a flavor. Try also the many sorbets, such as the grapefruit one which has just the right mix between sweetness and tanginess.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 11am–12:30am

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