If you’re spending a few days in the Italian capital, one such space to keep an eye out for is the elegant Piazza di Spagna. Lined on all sides by classical architecture and boutique fashion stores, the Spanish Steps that rise up from the east of the square are the area’s main draw, and for good reasons.
So grab your camera, and let’s go!
Getting to Piazza di Spagna by train
The Piazza is located towards the northeastern edges of Rome’s historic centre, a short distance from the vast Villa Borghese Gardens.
Which station is nearest to Piazza di Spagna?
Rome’s underground metro is a straightforward and speedy way to get around the city. It’s made up of three lines; Line A (orange), Line B (blue) and Line C (green). Though small by the standard of other European capitals, the network does connect lots of the major attractions as well as out towards more residential areas where you may be staying.
There’s a stop that’s really convenient for visiting Piazza di Spagna, which is handily named Spagna metro station. This sits on Line A (orange) and will bring you out just above the square atop the Spanish Steps of Rome.
There are also trams running through central Rome, and you’ll find the nearest stop to the Piazza and Spanish Steps is the Flaminio stop. This is around 700 metres north-west of the square and is served by the number 2 Line. This walk should only take you 12 minutes. It will take you from the beautiful Piazza del Popolo to the Spanish Steps, passing fashion boutiques along the way.
You’ve also the option of buses, with a stop at the northern end of the Piazza di Spagna being served by the 119 route. Many more services run from the stop up by the Flaminio tram station, including the 89, 490, 495, 590 and C3 services.
Whichever way of getting around suits you best, you’ll be pleased to know that all of Rome’s transport infrastructure is integrated. That means you can hop between buses, trams and metro trains using the same tickets, which come at really reasonable prices. These range from 100-minute cards designed to see you through a single journey, to passes that grant you travel for the entire week.
What to see at Piazza di Spagna
Piazza di Spagna is one of the Italian capital’s liveliest spots, and you’ll find plenty going on here no matter when you call past.
The Piazza di Spagna and Spanish Steps take their name from the Palazzo di Spagna, or Palace of Spain in English, which dominates the area. This building was formerly the seat of the Embassy of Spain to the Holy See and still functions as an embassy today.
The square is lined on all sides by classic Roman architecture, with fashion boutiques and coffee shops spilling out from the buildings at ground level. But woven in among all this is a selection of notable structures and landmarks you’ll want to keep an eye out for.
The Spanish Steps
Spanning the distance from the Piazza up to the Trinità dei Monti, the Spanish Steps Italy are one of the city’s most photographed spots. 135 steep steps navigate their way uphill towards the church, in a typically grand and architecturally enticing fashion.
Designed by architects Alessandro Specchi and Francesco De Sanctis, the staircase was inaugurated by Pope Benedict XIII in 1725, and fully restored as recently as 1995.
Trinitàdei Monti and Obelisco Sallustiano
Atop the stairs is the beautiful Trinità dei Monti, a late renaissance church which commands a real presence over the area. The church has a fraught history, having been built in 1585 but desecrated during the Napoleonic occupation of the city. Thankfully, following the fall of Napoleon, the church was restored at the expense of King Louis XVIII. You can still visit the church for prayer today, or book in advance to experience a fully guided tour.
The obelisk lies in front of the church, just one of the many you can find around the city. It’s a Roman imitation of an Egyptian-style pillar, thought to have been created in the early years of the Empire and moved here in 1789.
Keats-Shelley Memorial House
In 1820, facing declining health due to tuberculosis, celebrated English poet John Keats took up residence in Rome in the hope the warmer climate would improve his condition. He remained at the property on the Piazza di Spagna for several months, until he sadly succumbed to his illness aged just 25.
In his memory, the property was purchased in 1906 and transformed into a museum. There’s some work from fellow poets and authors such as Shelley, Byron and Wordsworth too. It remains a popular visitor attraction today, hosting a vast collection of artefacts belonging to an entire generation of celebrated writers.
Fontana della Barcaccia
Translating to “fountain of the boat”, and also referred to as the Spanish Steps Fountain, this whimsical piece of public art sits at the heart of the Piazza. In the Baroque style of the time, it was commissioned by Pope Urban VIII as part of a broader scheme to include a fountain in every Piazza of Rome.
The fountain depicts a long-told legend. A flood of the River Tiber carried a lone boat all the way through the streets of Rome until it eventually settled on the ground at the centre of Piazza di Spagna.
The column of the Immaculate Conception
At the southeastern edge of the square, this ornate column rises high above the square, holding atop it a statue of the Virgin Mary carrying a wreath of flowers. It was completed in 1857. The Corinthian column section is actually even older than this, being a repurposed sculpture that once hosted the goddess Minerva.
Babington’s team room
Though it may sound a little out of place, Babington’s is an iconic English tea room nestled at the foot of the Spanish Steps. It was opened by two young English women, Isabel Cargill and Anna Maria Babington, who came to live in Rome in 1893. They risked investing all of their savings in the tea shop – £100 in today’s money – despite tea drinking not being a common custom in Italy whatsoever.
Fortunately, the tea room was an immediate success with locals. Not to mention English folk who were following the Grand Tour, a sort of late-Victorian gap year for wealthy young Brits.
Restaurants, Bars, and Stores at Piazza di Spagna
A touch further out from the city’s big attractions and tourist routes, Piazza di Spagna is a fantastic place to drink, dine, and discover new threads. The gridded network of streets that surround the square are relatively easy to navigate, but it’s always a good idea to have some top spots in mind. So here are a few ideas to get you going.
The best restaurants at Piazza di Spagna
You’ll find the backstreets just off the plaza refreshingly quiet compared to some of the main tourist runs. At the same time, restaurants near Spanish Steps take a more authentic and exciting turn.
- Ristorante Dillà – colourful and fresh Mediterranean fare served up in a cosy setting
- Life Ristorante – a sleek fine dining restaurant that specialises in lobster and truffle dishes
- Hosteria del Mercato – the best pizza near Piazza di Spagna served up in a refreshingly modern setting
- CaffèCiampini di Marco Ciampini – a beautiful terrace restaurant high above the Piazza, offering fresh seafood and a selection of local meats
- Imàgo – a top floor fine-dining spot with spectacular window views
- Il Margutta – fresh vegetarian food served in a contemporary and colourful setting
- Ristorante “Al 34” – a classic Italian with late-night opening and a lively atmosphere
The best bars at Piazza di Spagna
With Piazza di Spagna Rome being such a great spot to visit by evening or night, there’s every chance you’ll fancy a cold glass of white wine once you’ve climbed the Spanish Steps. Fortunately, plenty is going on in the area, including some more eclectic picks.
- Gregory’s Jazz club – an authentic dark wood and bare bricks jazz bar, with a superb collection of whisky behind the bar
- Julep Herbal & Vermouth Bar – a beautiful and ornately decorated hotel bar specialising in high-end cocktails
- The Albert – a rustic British-style pub offering up all the usual favourites on draft
- Enoteca Nibbi dal 1936 – a swish and style wine bar that also serves a range of homemade Italian desserts
- Antica Enoteca – a rustic bar with beautiful ceilings and a superb collection of local wines
Shopping near Piazza di Spagna
If you’d planned for some retail therapy during your stay in Rome, you’ve come to that right place. The square and its surrounding streets are lined with top boutiques, including everything from global names through to eclectic independents.
Familiar names you’ll see at the edges of the Piazza include Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Longchamp, Moncler, Dior, Gucci and Valentino, among others. As for the independents, you’ll find some of the best leather goods and shoe shops in the city, all just a stone’s throw from the Piazza di Spagna.
Opening Times and Prices
The Piazza itself, as well as the Spanish Steps, are designated public space. That means these areas are accessible at almost all times, unless an event or festival is taking place, and will be free for you to access.
With that in mind, it might be a good idea to think about when you’d most like to visit the Piazza. This might be when it’s quieter and more comfortable to take in in the early morning, or when it’s busy, buzzing, and beautifully illuminated by night?
If you plan to visit some of the visitor attractions that surround the Piazza, you will need to check opening times and may be required to book a ticket in advance. For example, the beautiful Trinità dei Monti church at the top of the Spanish Steps opens for prayer each day from 10:00 to 20:00, except a 19:00 close on Tuesdays and a late 12:00 open on Wednesdays. If you’d like a full tour of the building, these are available on select days and will need to be booked in advance, costing €12.00 for adults, €6.00 for teens, and free for age 12 and under.
Another draw is the Keats-Shelley House, which is open every day of the year from 10:00 to 13:00 and 14:00 to 18:00, excluding the period from Christmas Eve to New Years Day. Tickets for this are €6.00 for adults, €5.00 for children, students and concessions, and free for children under six.
Whatever you plan to visit around the square, it’s recommended you book in advance to avoid disappointment.
One of the authentic beating heart spaces of Rome, get ready to fall in love with the bustling atmosphere at the Piazza di Spagna.
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!