Photo Journal: The Piazzas of Rome
One of my favorite things about Rome is that no matter what street you’re walking down, you will eventually hit one of the city’s gazillion “piazzas”.
A piazza, not a fancy way to say “pizza” but sometimes I say it that way anyway, is a city square and is commonly found at the meeting of two or more streets. Rome’s piazzas are full of poetic architecture, wandering artists, small shops and quaint restaurants. This is especially handy if you need to find a restroom after too much [coffee/wine/limoncello/all of the above] or a flowing fountain after a gelato attack on your face, which I admit was a daily offense!
Some of my favorite (and more mainstream) piazzas across Rome:
Piazza del Popolo translates into the “people’s square” and was the opening gates to the glorious city of Rome before modern roads. The square features some Egyptian influences including an obelisk with carvings made during the reigns of Sety I and Rameses II. My favorite thing about this piazza? Taking the passeggiata evening stroll along Via del Corso, a post-dining digestive walk filled with window shopping, people watching and stops for dessert along the city’s most fashionable street.
Piazza Campo de’ Fiori, which means “field of flowers”, used to be an execution site for the city’s heretics, lunatics and politics. One of the most famous of those executed was Giordano Bruno, a man whose beliefs that the sun is a star and that the universe contains many galaxies with other forms of life were considered heresy against the Catholic Church. Today, his celebrated statue defiantly faces the Vatican as a sign of free thinking amongst the city’s most popular outdoor food market.
Piazza de Trevi (Trevi Fountain) is Rome’s largest Baroque fountain and was the site of one of Rome’s oldest aqueducts, which was completed in 19 BC. During the visit, I managed to tear my eyes away from the gorgeously carved figures of Oceanus and Triton long enough to test the backward-coin-throwing tradition. Coin, bring me back to Rome!
Piazza Navona most striking piece, in my humble opinion, is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi or “Fountain of the Four Rivers”. Bernini’s interpretation of the Catholic Church’s power over the world are poetically articulated through the carvings of four river gods representing four major rivers of the four continents through which papal authority had spread.
Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps) was such a joy to see. I know it’s just a bunch of steps (135 to be exact and its staircase is the widest in all of Europe!) connecting the Spanish Embassy to the church above but when you see it littered with people of all ages, shapes and colors, you can’t help but feel animated against the lively scene. And who could forget Audrey Hepburn sitting on these monochromatic steps in Roman Holiday?
Piazza Venezia is best known for the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II which was built to celebrate the first king of a unified Italy. Romans have a love hate relationship with this building because its construction destroyed a large area of a medieval neighborhood and locals find the monument to be a glaringly bright eyesore. This “typewriter” shaped building definitely stuck out like a bruised thumb but it’s views of the ancient (Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Pantheon, Roman Forum) and the more modern landmarks were breathtaking.
Via Del Tritone, 113
00187 Rome Italy
+39 06 422921
The First Luxury Arts Hotel
Via del Vantaggio, 14
00186 Roma Italy
+39 06 45617070
Rome Cavalieri, Waldorf Astoria
Via Alberto Cadlolo, 101
00136 Rome, Italy
+39 06 3509 1