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Rome Fun Facts: The Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps are crowded
Bunch of bodies brooding there
Dead-pan sidewalk vendors
Hustling vacant stares

— from “The Only Joy In Town” by Joni Mitchell

If you’ve been to Rome before you have probably been amongst the brooding bodies hanging out on the Spanish Steps — in the event you were fortunate enough to have visited prior to the summer of 2019, when sitting on the stairs was prohibited by law.

In spite of the not-so-fun fact that you can no longer hang out on the Spanish Steps, it is still one of the most fabulous Baroque monuments in Rome, and there are still plenty of fun facts to know.

Fun Facts About The Spanish Steps

  • Funding for the Spanish Steps came from a Frenchman.
  • In Italian they are not called the Spanish Steps! Italians call them la Scalinata, which is short for la Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti and simply means “stairway.”
  • The staircase connects Piazza di Spagna, named for the Spanish Embassy in the piazza at the bottom, and the church of Trinità dei Monti at the top.
  • Rumour has it that John Keats may have coined the name “Spanish Steps.”  The English poet lived briefly in the house at the base of the stairs just before his death in 1821.
  • The staircase is dedicated to the Holy Trinity.  This is reflected in its design by the three tiers of steps, representing Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • There are 135 stairs covering a change in elevation of 29 m (95 ft).
  • On two occasions cars have been driven down the steps (as you’ve probably already guessed the drivers were inebriated).
  • The fountain in Piazza di Spagna was inspired by a real boat that was carried into the piazza by the Tiber river when it overflowed in 1598. The boat remained when the waters receded, becoming the inspiration for Bernini's concept.

Ecco qua!  A little whimsy to sprinkle onto your next visit of the Spanish Steps, one of the grandest, most elegant, and most recognizable staircases in the world.

Visit in May when the azaleas are in bloom and the staircase is exploding with pink!  

DriverInRome would be pleased to take you around Rome with a private car and driver, or arrange a licensed guide just for your group.  Please feel free to contact us!

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