Rome: Piazza di Spagna, one of the symbols of the Eternal City, still able to excite tourists and Romans...
You will arrive to Piazza di Spagna by the underground stop with the same name, located between Via Due Macelli and Via del Babuino, directly connected to Piazza del Popolo; it is overlooked by the very long stairway of Trinità dei Monti and in front of it there is the Fontana della Barcaccia by Bernini. Further on you will enter the famous Via Condotti with its boutiques, which ends up reconnecting to Via del Corso, delimiting a well-known area because there are concentrated shopping lovers from all over the world. Piazza di Spagna represents social life since the sixteenth century, when it was a meeting place for writers and artists; today, it is the centreof both cultural and tourist life.
There was the "Locanda della Scalinata", a famous meeting place for the Masons and where Casanova lived. At number 26 of Piazza di Spagna, the poet J. Keats lived and died in 1821; today, the red house - is Shelley and Keats Memorial House. There you will also find a masterpiece: the Propaganda Fide Palace, begun by Bernini and finished by Borromini.
The name of this square derives from the Palace of Spain, built in 1647, the seat of the Spanish embassy at the Vatican; it was modified, especially inside, a few years later by Antonio del Grande who used some Borromini's projects; in the eighteenth century, a private theater was added, where Vittorio Alfieri represented Antigone, in 1782. The palace was modified during the Napoleonic occupation and also in 1898 when the fresco "The delivery of the keys of Granada" was painted; the last transformation dates back to 1932, when a balcony was inserted, still embracing three central windows.
One of the most passionate places by visitors in Rome, is the monumental staircase of Piazza di Spagna, created to connect the Church of Trinità dei Monti, commissioned by Pope Benedict XIII in 1725. The staircase is made of 12 ramps and 135 steps of travertine, it includes some rest areas specially designed as a meeting place for architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi. During the last century, women from Ciociari - an area in the centre of Italy - used to sell flowers on the long stairway, so much so they were often depicted by painters; the sale of flowers was lately prohibited and the square was decorated by azaleas. Thanks to the exposure of these flowers making it even more beautiful, especially during spring, Piazza di Spagna is a welcoming place for tourists coming from all over the world. It is also famous because it is the protagonist of severa movies, such as Ladri di biciclette, Vacanze romane and Il talento di Mr Ripley, as well as for having hosted many fashion shows of famous designers such as Versace, Armani and Valentino, broadcast by televisions all around the world.
On the top, you will see Trinità dei Monti Church overlooking the stairway, with its two bell towers. Created by the French in 1495, the interior of the nave underwent various changes over time, some with eighteenth-century features in 1774; however, the original Gothic style remains in the triumphal arch, in the transept and in the presbytery. Michelangelo's pupil, Daniele da Volterra, called to cover the nudity of the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel, is the author of the Deposition in the second chapel. Michelangelo's influence is evident in depictions of athletic bodies, in the side chapels, while they recall Raphael's circles and angels around the Virgin. In the third chapel at the bottom, Daniele da Volterra painted the Assumption, in the seventh there are stories of the Old and New Testament by Perin del Vaga - he began the fifth chapel then finished by Taddeo and Zuccari; the latter also depicted The Coronation of the Virgin, The Annunciation and The Visitation. A splendid panorama is then given by the square, adorned by the Sallustian Obelisk put there at the end of the 18th century. Below, at the foot of the staircase and in the centre of the square, you will find the Fontana della Barcaccia, sculpted by Pietro Bernini, and probably completed by Gian Lorenzo in 1629, after the death of his father; they engraved on it the papal coat of arms representing the suns and the bees, since it was commissioned by Pope Urban VIII. Its creation seems to take inspiration from a flood the Tiber had in 1598: it overflowed and so the fountain reminds the memory of a boat run aground; it seems it was ingeniously designed under the road level to solve the problem of low water pressure: this is why the fountain appears semi-submerged.
Piazza di Spagna for shopping lovers
From the artistic and cultural point of view Piazza di Spagna never ceases to excite both tourists and Romans, however if you are a shopping lover or want to treat yourself to some levity hours, do not worry because the prestigious Via Condotti, from the square up to Largo Goldoni, is in front of you. Via Condotti, whose name comes from the pipelines the Agrippa spa near the Pantheon, brings Italian high fashion stores together, loved by Japanese tourists and not only; you will find the ateliers of Gucci, Ferragamo, Hermes etc, but also the famous Antico Caffè Greco, the meeting place for many artists such as Goethe, Lord Byron, Stendhal Gogol, Casanova and Andersen, in the past.
Art and shopping lovers can walk along via del Babuino, the street connecting Piazza del Popolo to Piazza di Spagna, along via Margutta. The road is there since the 14th century, and it got its final name in 1571, when the statue of Silenus was installed, the classical deity of springs and fountains. According to the inhabitants of the street, the Silenus resembled a baboon. Federico Fellini lived there; moreover, the street hosted many artists in the sixties and, walking along it nowadays, you will find galleries, luxurious hotels, art studios and many boutiques of the most famous designers. Via Margutta - from Via del Babuino to Via Alibert - is peculiar because you will see the low and small buildings covered with flowers and ivy; furthermore there are various artists' shops and it seems Gentileschi lived here. After the movie Vacanze Romane, thanks to which it became famous, people like Anna Magnani, Federico Fellini and his wife Giulietta Masina, and Giorgio de Chirico took their home in Via Margutta.
All you have to do is to go there and discover everything you love: art, shopping, culture and history.
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