The role of the squares of Rome in tourist itineraries
A number of times we happened to chat with our guests and tourists around Rome and ask them where they had been and what they had visited. Very often in describing their itinerary they list a long series of squares. In fact, for them these places act as starting points for the tour of the neighboring streets or as meeting points to then visit monuments and historical places. But the squares of Rome have their own dignity, they are in themselves architectural, artistic and cultural assets; if you visit the squares of Rome, you can be sure of being able to visit the most beautiful part of the city. The square was in the past and still is today the aggregation center of the life of the district, the place of meeting and confrontation, the heart of commerce and of entertainment. Today we want to talk to you about the most beautiful squares in Rome.
1. Campo de ‘Fiori, the heart of Rome
For many Romans it is the square par excellence, a kind of urban theater, with its palaces that look like an Opera house scenography. In the morning, in fact, the square is filled with the stalls of the local market where the best Roman and Lazio food specialties are sold, often of the highest quality. Our gastronomic tour through the alleys of authentic Rome will also accompany you here to tell you the story of this characteristic Roman square and will satisfy your desire for good things.
The square is also famous for the bronze statue of Giordano Bruno, placed in the center of it in 1889. This Dominican friar and philosopher was burned alive in the place where the statue stands in 1600, because he was considered a heretic. Only after the fall of the Papal State, Rome was able to rehabilitate him and remember him with this extraordinary monument.
But Rome is magical and at night this place becomes a meeting place for young people and tourists who spend the evening in the neighboring clubs.
2. Piazza Navona, from an ancient stadium to an elegant Baroque square
Piazza Navona is an open-air work of art. A concentrate of Roman art and history. It has an oval shape because the buildings that surround it are built on the ruins of the ancient Stadium of Domitian, whose ruins can be visited in the area north of the square. Until 1800, very special shows took place here, just think that the square could be artificially flooded by the authorities to create a sort of huge swimming pool in which to simulate naval battles. On the sides of the square the most important buildings are the Pamphilj Palace, now home to the Brazilian Embassy, the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone (whose facade was designed by Francesco Borromini) and the church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. But the true protagonist of the square is the Fountain of the Rivers (or the Four Rivers) built by Gian Lorenzo Bernini between 1648 and 1651, perhaps the most important masterpiece of Baroque art in Rome. On the sides of the square, there are also two other splendid fountains: the Fontana del Moro, whose sculptures are the work of Bernini, and the fountain of Neptune.
Piazza Navona hides another curiosity, click here if you want to discover it!
3.Piazza di Spagna, the great old parlour of Rome
In the collective imagination, Piazza di Spagna is the most elegant place in Rome. Here and in the neighboring Via Condotti there are the shops of the most important fashion houses. The house of the great designer Valentino is located in the adjacent Piazza Mignanelli. On the steps of Trinità dei Monti there are fabulous open-air fashion shows that take advantage of this fantastic architectural stage to enhance Italian flair and creativity. In the center of the square you can admire one of the most beautiful artistic fountains in Rome: the Barcaccia fountain built by Pietro Bernini together with his son, the very famous Gian Lorenzo. The most important buildings that overlook this square are the Palazzo di Spagna which is the seat of the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See and the Palazzo di Propaganda Fide, one of the most important centers of the Vatican government.
4. Piazza della Rotonda or Piazza del Pantheon
Officially it is called Piazza della Rotonda, but it is commonly known as Piazza del Pantheon, which is the most famous round monument in Rome. The traveller who stops here for a coffee or a plate of spaghetti has the privilege of enjoying the view of two of the most beautiful monuments of Rome: the first is precisely the Pantheon, an ancient temple of Ancient Rome, which later became a church and then the tomb of the Kings of Italy. The other monument is the splendid sixteenth-century fountain designed by Giacomo della Porta and Leonardo Sormani, very famous for its marbles and the central obelisk. In short, those who pass through here can admire more than 2000 years of art and architecture history in a few square meters.
5. Piazza di Trevi: a name, a certainty
You will recognize it on the spot, if from one of the narrow streets in the center of Rome you end up in Piazza di Trevi to find yourself in front of the most famous fountain in the world: the Trevi Fountain. This majestic work of art was created starting from the eighteenth century as a terminal display fountain of the Aqua Vergine aqueduct (or Aqua Virgo). It means that its waters flow from the mountains around Rome at this point. It is therefore a celebratory monument to human ingenuity and the will of the Popes to bring running water to the center of Rome. One cannot fail to visit the Trevi Fountain and throw a coin into it. Those who do it ensure a return to the Eternal City, a good investment for a few euros!
6. Piazza del Popolo: the square par excellence
If you have read the descriptions of the previous squares, you can get an idea of why Piazza del Popolo can be defined as a total Roman square. It contains everything we find in the individual other squares: there is architecture and art, with 3 very famous churches that overlook it, one of which, Santa Maria del Popolo, houses two paintings by Caravaggio and one by Annibale Carracci; there is history, because here is the Porta del Popolo or Porta Flaminia, one of the most important monumental access points of ancient, papal and contemporary Rome (meetings and political demonstrations take place here); there is the scenography, given the presence of a fountain with an obelisk and other valuable statues, as well as the terrace of the Pincio; there is urban planning, since the square is designed to be the point from which the so-called Trident of streets is generated, consisting of Via del Babuino, Via del Corso and Via di Ripetta; there is cinematography, since dozens of memorable scenes of Italian cinema masterpieces have been set here over the years.
Do you want to find out a curiosity about the origin of the name of this square? Read this article on the curiosities of the monuments of Rome.
7. Piazza Venezia: where history has left its mark
Piazza Venezia is the traffic crossroads of the center of Rome. Thousands of cars, buses, taxis, botticelle (horse-drawn carriages), bicycles, etc. rotate around its central flowerbed every day. Under the majestic Altare della Patria, the lives of the Romans and thousands of tourists flow from the Imperial Forums to Via del Corso or from Termini Station to Corso Vittorio Emanuele II every day. The palaces that overlook the square are beautiful, elegant and rich in history, but there are two curiosities that we want to tell you about. The first concerns Christmas, because the Christmas tree of the Municipality of Rome is placed here, often magnificently decorated; the second concerns Pizzardone.
Do you know who Pizzardone is? He is the Traffic Officer, a member of the Rome Capital Police who has the honor and the burden of directing traffic. He usually positions himself on a pedestal and with his graceful but decisive movements he intimates the stop and the go to the passing vehicles. Directing the traffic is also art and elegance in Rome!
8. Piazza Trilussa, the entrance door to the Trastevere district
Piazza Trilussa is located in front of the Sisto bridge in the popular Trastevere district, where young people usually meet. This square is named after the great Roman poet Trilussa, pseudonym of Carlo Alberto Salustri, who lived between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The square has two peculiarities: one is its scenographic function, because it ennobles the access to Trastevere, for those coming from Campo de’ Fiori or Piazza Farnese, crossing the bridge; the other peculiarity is the splendid fountain created by Vasanzio and Giovanni Fontana. Looking at this fountain coming from Ponte Sisto, you can see that it is located below the Fontanone dell’Acqua Paola, visible high up on the slope of the Janiculum hill. Both are outlet points (“displays”) of the Trajan aqueduct. On the right of the square, with your back to the bridge, is the statue dedicated to Trilussa.
9. Piazza di Santa Maria In Trastevere
Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere is the heart of the district of the same name. It takes its name from the ancient Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, a go-to for the Romans to celebrate baptisms, weddings and even solemn funerals. Think that it was founded by one of the first popes, Calisto I in the 3rd century AD, while the current form is from the 12th century. Inside there are dozens of works of art, but the most beautiful thing to admire are the mosaics and pipe organs. The square is large and spacious, also perfect for welcoming tourists and young people who spend the evening there, given the presence of hundreds of clubs in the neighboring streets. If you are a gourmet, you can visit Trastevere with an expert food and wine guide who will make you try the typical Roman specialties in historic places in the neighborhood. Join our food tour!
If we have intrigued you by talking about the most beautiful squares in Rome, we’d like to invite you to follow us on our food tour in the alleys of authentic Rome during which you can visit some of these squares and taste typical Roman products.
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