The Insider Tip: Piazza di Spagna in Rome
The beauties that the city of Rome is able to offer to the visitors are really manifold: from the Colosseum to the Vatican Museums, from the Roman Forum to the treasures of the Underground Rome. The city also offers extraordinary panoramic views from the top of terraces, but also fountains and squares that nowadays are symbols of the Italian capital in the world. One of these priceless artistic jewels is certainly Piazza di Spagna, the absolute protagonist of the city thanks to its elegant scenic backdrop, the stairway of Trinità dei Monti. Not by chance, and because of its breathtaking beauty, the square has been chosen by many film directors as movie set and surely the most famous of all is definitely “Roman Holiday” by William Wyler.
The first curiosity that can be told is linked to the origin of the name. The square is in fact called so because here is the palace of the Embassy of Spain in Holy See. The building dates back to 1647 and is located on the south side of the square, right in front of the Immaculate Conception Column, built on 8 December 1857. It seems that for the inauguration ceremony, the embassy facade was covered by a structure in wood, with the erection of a special stage, used by Pope Pius IX to give the blessing. The column, however, found in 1778 during some excavations in the Campo Marzio, has very ancient origins, dates back to Roman times and has on the top the bronze statue that depicts the “Virgin Mary”, by Giuseppe Obici, while on the base, four bronze statues representing Moses, David, Ezekiel and Isaiah. The column is not only a decorative element, but becomes an absolute protagonist every December 8, feast of the Immaculate Conception, when a team of firefighters work with a crane to pay homage to a wreath of flowers, in the presence of the Pope who blesses the statue and all those present, remembering the gesture on the day of its inauguration.
What in a Roman square cannot miss is obviously a fountain. And so that also Piazza di Spagna presents to the visitor his work, the famous Barcaccia. Built in the early 1600s at the behest of Pope Urban VIII Barberini, it was built by Pietro Bernini, father of the most famous Gian Lorenzo. Bernini designed an absolutely new fountain compared to the works he had done in Rome up until then: he was inspired, in fact, by a real boat. This unique fountain recalls the ships of ancient Rome and collects the water that comes out of two large suns and the one that comes out from the small central basin. The overflowing water from the sides, made in such a way as to give the impression that it is sinking, is collected in an underlying basin, in which also the jets coming from mouths of false gunboats placed outside the bow and stern, on the sides of the great papal coats of arms in which bees stand out, the heraldic symbol of the Barberini family.
And looking up that you’ll remain speechless because it is precisely here that begins the elegant staircase built in 1700 to more easily reach the sixteenth-century church of the Santissima Trinità dei Monti in French ownership. Along the steps you can admire lilies and eagles: the first symbolize France and the second are found in the heraldic coat of arms of Pope Innocent XIII, the Pope who strongly wanted its construction.
On the sides of the church there are two elegant buildings: the one on the right side, called “Casina Rossa”, belonged to a lady named Anna Angeletti, who rented rooms to tourists visiting Rome. The English poet John Keats, accompanied by his friend the painter Joseph Severn, rented the corner room on the second floor, which housed him until the day of his death, which took place on 23 February 1821, at only 26 years of age. Just these rooms, since 1906, host an amazing museum, the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, a small literary temple open to the public in honor of the most famous English romantic poets.
On the opposite side of the staircase is the famous Babington’s Tea Room, founded in 1893 by two enterprising English ladies, Miss Babington and Miss Cargill, who knew, with only the initial sum of 100 pounds, open the place that most of all widespread use of tea in Rome, a city that at the time considered this drink still a healing herb to be sold exclusively in pharmacies! And right at the top of the steps, right in front of the Chiesa della Santissima Trinità dei Monti, Pope Pius VI in 1789 decided to raise the sallustian obelisk, from the Roman era and clearly inspired by Egyptian models.
The square lived its maximum splendor during the 1700s, thanks to the young European intellectuals who embarked on the important training and education trip known as the Grand Tour. Many young English and German guys have chosen Piazza di Spagna as ideal starting point for discovering all the treasures of Rome, because here it was easy to find everything: from money desks to coaches, from guides to inns, from shops to luxurious cafes. Last but not least, enjoy all the glorious past of this square going to the nearby Caffè Greco, at the beginning of Via dei Condotti, where to get a coffee sitting at those tables used by famous people such as Goethe, Canova and Lord Byron to name a few!
Where to Stay
The Kolbe Hotel Rome is an elegant hotel located in the heart of the Eternal City, in the shadow of the Palatine Hill, where according to legend Romulus and Remus were nursed by the wolf. This prestigious property overlooks the enchanting scenery of the Imperial Forums and is based in a historic building recently renovated, preserving some original architectural elements, to give its guests the charm of ancient times combined with the most modern comforts.
All 72 rooms are a perfect blend of past and present offering you the chance to stay in an oasis of charme and peace right in the centre of Rome. In the rooms of the Kolbe Hotel Rome, your senses will be enchanted by the fascination of the past, surrounded by a timeless atmosphere with all modern comforts. The ‘Garden Restaurant Al Palatino’ is an elegant restaurant serving classic Roman cuisine alongside several international dishes. The stylish bar offers a wide selection of wines and cocktails and in warmer months guests can enjoy meals and drinks in the leafy hotel garden.
Guests, during the summer, can relax in the charming green oasis of Kolbe Hotel Rome, the cloistered garden of what used to be a convent, a beautiful internal garden with olive and citrus trees, the perfect setting for outdoor dining, romantic weddings and for unforgettable events.