Piazza di Spagna Rome

Piazza di Spagna Rome. The Piazza di Spagna takes its name from the palace at the west side, the Palazzo di Spagna, the Spanish Embassy to the Vatican. Between the palace and the little piazza opposite rises a column celebrating the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, which the Church of Rome adopted in 1854. Let’s take a closer look at it…

Piazza di Spagna Rome: a close up

Piazza di Spagna Rome & the Spanish steps

In the middle of the sq. is the famous Fontana della Barcaccia, dating to the start of the baroque age, sculptured by Pietro Bernini and his son, the even more celebrated Gian Lorenzo. At the right corner of the Spanish Steps there’s the house of the english author and  poet John Keats, who lived there till his death in 1821: today it’s been converted into a gallery dedicated to him and his friend Percy Shelley, full of books and remembrances of English Romanticism. At the left corner there’s the Babington’s tea space, founded in 1893. The side close to Via Frattina is overlooked by the 2 facades (the main one, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and the other one created by Francesco Borromini) of the Palazzo di Propaganda Fide, a property of the State of the Vatican City. in front of it, truly in an exceedingly perpetuation of piazza di Spagna named piazza Mignanelli, there’s the Column of the immaculate Conception, erected in 1856, 2 years after the proclamation of the dogma.

Piazza di Spagna: the Spanish steps

The best known feature of the Piazza di Spagna is of course its steps: that curved staircase so warmly yellow in the evening sun, with the warmly yellow church at its summit also cherishing the dying light. From the Blower end of the Via Condotti, and farther back still, in the Via Fontanella di Borghese, the twin domes of this church, often seem to hang in the sky.

The imposing 135-step stairway was inaugurated by Pope Benedict XIII throughout the 1725 anniversary, it had been released, thanks to French loans granted in 1721–1725, to attach the Bourbon Spanish embassy (from that the sq. takes its name) to the Church of Trinità dei Monti.

Piazza di Spagna:Keats-Shelley Memorial House

Before ascending the spanish steps, however, we must take stock of the house on the right of the steps, which has a tablet on its wall, with a broken lyre upon it. A tragic house, indeed, for it was the last home of John Keats. Keats’s association with Italy began in 1820, when he was twenty-five and the symptoms of consumption were on the increase. Between March 1818 and the autumn of 1819 he had written his finest work, the poetry in the “Lamia”, “Isabella” and “Eve of St. Agnes” volume.

Keats died in the little room looking out on the flowersellers, and the house is now a museum filled with books and papers and pictures relating to the poet and to his friends Severn, Shelley, Byron, and Leigh Hunt.

The Protestant cemetery in Rome is a long way from the Piazza di Spagna, but since the graves of Keats and Shelley make it “sacred ground” to so many Anglo-Saxon visitors, I think you should give  a look to it….
Ancient Ostia e protestant cemetery walking tour.

Piazza di Spagna Rome: monuments and museums

  • Trinità dei Monti
  • Villa Medici
  • Keats-Shelley Memorial House
  • Giorgio De Chirico House
  • Column of the Immaculate Conception
  • Fountain of the Babuino
  • Spanish Steps
  • Fontana della Barcaccia

The walking tour itinerary

Piazza di Spagna is a stop of my “One day walking tour” in Rome. Check out the itinerary.