Piazza Del Popolo, or ‘The People’s Square’ is the beating heart of Rome. Famous for its atmosphere, architecture, and cobbled floor, it’s little wonder that Piazza Del Popolo is one of the most visited and celebrated squares in the Eternal City.
How to get to Piazza Del Popolo by train
As one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome, Piazza Del Popolo is easy to reach by public transport. Hop on a train or Metro and get there in no time, without forking out for a taxi or renting a car.
Which station is closest to Piazza Del Popolo?
The closest Metro station to Piazza Del Popolo is Flaminio. If you’ve travelled to the city by train, you’ll probably get off at Rome Termini, which is the central railway station in Rome. From there, it’s just eight minutes to Flamino using the underground Metro. From Flamino, it’s just a one minute walk to Piazza Del Popolo.
Flamino is a stop a line A service. It’s easy to reach from many stops close to Rome’s other attractions. To get there from the Colosseum, simply take the Metro from the Colosseo stop to Termini, then hop a line A service towards Battistini and alight at Flaminio. The Colosseo metro station is also the closest one to the Capitoline Museums. So, why not tick two major attractions off your list and visit both in one day?
Where to buy Rome train and Metro tickets
Train and metro tickets are easy to buy in Rome. You’ll find ticket machines at any station, or you can grab a 100 minutes ticket at a tobacco shop or newsstand. This is the most popular ticket option, letting you travel for, you guessed it, 100 minutes from the moment you validate. These cost just €1.50, making them a budget-friendly choice too.
The Rome metro is open from 05:30 to 23:30 during the week, and until 01:30 on weekends. Want to catch the train? The city’s urban railway is open from 05:30 to 22:30 every day, with the Rome-Lido line running later until 23:30. Trains run every 20 minutes and every 10 minutes during peak times.
What to see at Piazza Del Popolo
We love Piazza Del Popolo! It boasts some of the most exciting landmarks in the city. But first, let’s take a journey back in time to the death of the ancient emperor Nero, whose tyrannical reign ran until 68AD.
The legend of Piazza Del Popolo
Legend has it, Nero was buried beneath a walnut tree in the Piazza Del Popolo area. The spot was even exorcised in the 1100s! Pope Paschal II had Nero’s remains dug up, burned, and his ashes thrown into the River Tiber, actions that he claimed came to him in a holy vision. In fact, visit the Santa Maria del Popolo, and you’ll notice an intricate sculpture of the pope cutting down the walnut tree.
The Flaminio Obelisk
Nowadays, Piazza Del Popolo is known less for its hauntings and more for its iconic landmarks and cosmopolitan vibe. The Ancient Egyptian Obelisk of Seti I is one of the first things you’ll see as you meander onto the square. The obelisk was built to celebrate the Roman conquest of Egypt and was brought to Rome by Augustus in 10BC. It was initially housed within Circus Maximus before being transferred to the square in 1589.
Did you know? The famous lion basins at the foot of the obelisk were erected much later in 1823, under the papacy of Pope Leon XII. They were designed by the renowned Italian architect and designer Valadier.
And that’s not all Valadier contributed to the square. Piazza Del Popolo is home to two magnificent fountains designed by the architect – the Fountain of Neptune and the Fountain of Roma.
Santa Maria del Popolo
Art lovers, rejoice! Venture to Piazza Del Popolo, and you’ll see the Santa Maria del Popolo – a magnificent basilica completed in 1477. The impressive structure houses two of Caravaggio’s most exquisite canvases, as well as a wealth of other renaissance trimmings to tickle your fancy.
Churches in Piazza Del Popolo
The square is also home to another two churches, Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto. Built under Pope Alexander VII and finished in the 17th century, these two buildings are tricky to tell apart from the outside. Still, they have different interiors, so it’s worth adding both of them to your ‘must-see’ list.
Want to get a unique view of the square? Climb the stairs to Pincio Park and look back across Piazza Del Popolo for one of the most photo-worthy aspects in Rome. We recommend doing this at dawn or dusk for a truly unforgettable experience.
Piazza Del Popolo history and facts
Just like the rest of the Eternal City, Piazza Del Popolo is a place that’s steeped in history. Some people think that its name was derived from the Santa Maria del Popolo. Actually, it comes from the Latin word populus, which means poplars. Can you guess why? Of course, it’s because the area was once covered in poplar trees!
The beginnings of Piazza Del Popolo
Centuries ago, Piazza Del Popolo was an ancient entrance to Rome. Thousands of pilgrims made their journey to the Holy City by travelling over the spot. In 1562, Pope Pius IV instructed the construction of a large gate, the Porta Flaminia. This was designed by architect Nanni di Baccio Biagio to welcome the pilgrims to Rome and made the area a little more magnificent than it had been before.
A Royal visit
Queen Christina of Sweden arrived through the gate in 1655. If you look closely, you might be able to spot some of the intricate decorations which were added especially to impress the royal visitor. These include an inscription which reads ‘For a Happy and Prosperous Entrance, the year 1655’.
All this hard work paid off, and Queen Christina fell in love with the city. She even made the conversion to Roman Catholicism and changed her name! Christina stayed in her beloved Rome until she died in 1689 when her remains were buried in a tomb beneath St Peter’s Basicilia.
The Trullo Fountain
During the Middle Ages, Piazza Del Popolo was known as Piazza Del Trullo. It’s hard to see why today because the fountain was removed in the 1500s. This was the Trullo Fountain, which stood at the centre of the area throughout the Middle Ages. The fountain was a usual addition to a public square, added mostly for practical reasons. Washerwomen would use it as a cistern, and it was also used as a horse trough.
The life of the fountain came to an end when Pope Sixtus V gave the square a makeover, replacing it with the Egyptian obelisk we know today.
Modernising the square
By the time the 1700s were drawing to a close, it was once again time to modernise the square. In 1816, Valadier was commissioned to redesign the area. The designer chose to leave the main parts of the square, including the churches and the obelisk, untouched. Instead, he focused on transforming the area into an ellipse shape by getting rid of the structures surrounding it, making it accessible from the sides. The work was completed in 1824.
Restaurants, bars, and shops near the Piazza Del Popolo
Piazza Del Popolo has a plethora of places to eat, drink, and shop during your visit. Whether you’re in the mood for fine dining, a few cocktails or you want to grab a unique souvenir of your trip, there’s something for everyone in the square and surrounding areas.
Where to eat near Piazza Del Popolo
Let’s start with places to eat! There aren’t any restaurants in the square itself, but you can find several world-class eateries just a short stroll away. One of our favourite places to eat near Piazza Del Popolo has to be Canova. This elegant eatery serves a variety of delicious dishes with something to suit every taste. Order a pasta dish, and you won’t be disappointed. This is an excellent spot for lunch or dinner in the area.
For a quintessentially Roman lunch experience, Piaceri Di Puglia ticks all the boxes. Choose your favourite from a tempting array of classic pizzas and pasta dishes. Looking for some top quality food and a cosy ambience? Head to Il Porto di Ripetta for both in spades.
The beauty of Rome is that there are lots of different places to eat, with much more than just Italian food on offer. Babette is just a stone’s throw from the square and serves a variety of exquisite French dishes. Or, if you want to visit somewhere a bit livelier in the evening, go to Valentyne and sample some fine foods with live music.
The best bars near Piazza Del Popolo
Dreaming of sipping drinks as the sun sets over the city? Stravinskij Bar is an ultra-stylish place to enjoy a beverage or two. This spot boasts an extensive cocktail and craft beer selection, which means everyone will be happy here. If you’re searching for somewhere cheap and cheerful to relax after a long day, Bar Al 99 has a fantastic selection of beers, wines, and spirits at prices that won’t break the bank.
Shopping near Piazza Del Popolo
If you’re exploring Rome with retail therapy in mind, there are plenty of places to peruse near Piazza Del Popolo. Whether you’re searching for Italian designer brands or world-famous labels like GAP, Nike, and Zara, there’s plenty of choice in the area.
For something a little more unique, you’ll find an array of Italian boutiques just outside the square, including the famous Italian hatmaker, Borsalino.
Opening times and prices
You can take a stroll through Piazza Del Popolo any time of day or night, giving you lots of flexibility when you’re planning your visit. However, some of the area’s main attractions do have set opening times, so it’s best to check these out before your trip. Here are some opening times you might like to keep in mind:
Santa Maria del Popolo
Open Monday to Friday from 07:15 to 12:30 and again between 16:00 and 19:00. If you’re visiting at the weekend, opening hours are slightly different. Get to the church from 07:30 to 21:00 on Saturdays. On Sundays, you can visit between 07:30 to 13:30 and 04:30 to 19:00.
Santa Maria dei Miracoli
The Santa Maria dei Miracoli is open daily from 07:00 to 12:30 and then again between 16:00 and 19:30. Santa Maria in Montesanto is only open during the evenings, from 17:00 to 20:00 during the week and 10:30 to 13:30 on Sundays, it’s closed on Saturdays.
Whatever time of day you visit the Piazza Del Popolo, we’re sure you’ll be impressed by what you see. With so much history and beautiful architecture, tourists will find plenty to satisfy their Roman curiosity. Throw in lots of excellent bars, restaurants, and world-class shopping, and you’ve got a perfect day out in the Italian capital. Don’t forget your camera!
Travelling to Rome by train
Italy is blessed with a fantastic high-speed railway network, making it easy to travel to Rome by train. Roma Termini is the main railway station in the capital and it's served by several speedy services, including Trenitalia's Frecciarossa ("Red Arrow") services and Italo trains. Thanks to high-speed trains, you can get from Florence or Naples to Rome in under 1h 20m, Milan to Rome in 3h 10m and Venice to Rome in 3h 26m.
And if you're travelling onwards from Rome, why not continue by train? The capital has links to Venice, Florence, Milan, Verona and Genoa - to name but a few places you can reach by rail! So why not hop on a train and say arrivederci to Rome!