The Best Piazzas in Rome

The Best Piazzas in Rome

In Rome, a great way to explore the city is on foot. I did exactly that with my parents, earlier this year. We spent our days visiting the main sights, like the Colosseum, the Forum, and the Vatican City and, in between, we walked along the streets where we happened upon a few of the city’s wonderful piazzas – each one different, but every one charming. So, here’s my guide to the best piazzas in Rome.

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona was my favourite, if only because it was the first one we found. We’d just been to the Vatican and we’d walked through the streets and just came across this beautiful square. With street artists selling their creations, tourists vying for the best spot to take their holiday snaps, and locals chattering over an ice-cream – it’s a vibrant place with a fabulous atmosphere. There are hints of the past all around with its Baroque-style churches and palaces, and 3 impressive fountains which date back to the 16th century. It’s a real pleasure to sit in one of the restaurants, with a glass of wine over lunch, and just lap it all up.

Places to visit in Rome
Piazza Navona

More photographs at www.morrisophotography.co.uk

Piazza della Repubblica

Piazza della Repubblica is at the top of Via Nazionale and not far from where we were staying. Now a busy roundabout, this piazza is full of history. The shape is semi-circular and part of the piazza was once part of the Baths of Diocletian, as is the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels and Martyrs. In the middle, the obligatory fountain – The Fountain of the Naiads. The fountain was built in 1870 and its 4 statues of the Naiads were built in 1901 by Mario Rutelli. You can see the Nymphs of the Lakes, Rivers, Oceans, and Underground Waters. In the middle, there is a statue of Glaucus, who was supposed to have saved many a sailor from the force of storms at sea. Around the outside of the piazza, the porticos that can be seen were built in the 19th century to commemorate the buildings that stood long ago.

Places to visit in Rome
Piazza della Repubblica

More photographs at www.morrisophotography.co.uk

Piazza Vittorio Emanuele

The day we came across this piazza, we were on a mission to explore Rome by metro. We had already been to the opposite side of the city at Piazza del Popolo and we had made our way to the Spanish Steps. We took the metro to Vittorio Emanuele and found ourselves at Piazza Vittorio Emanuele or Piazza Vittorio. Surrounded with portico-ed buildings, this piazza is the largest in Rome. In the middle of the square is a green space known as Giardini Nicola Calipari. It’s a shame that it was a little run down with overgrown grass and the fountain not working, but it serves as a place to rest your feet for 5 minutes if you are exploring. We were lucky on the day we visited because there was a colourful Hindu festival going out, so we stopped for a while to watch before heading off in the direction of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

Places to visit in Rome
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele

More photographs at www.morrisophotography.co.uk

Piazza Campo de’ Fiori

On our last day in Rome, we’d walked over the Tiber River to Isola Tiberina and we had walked back through the streets until we got to the delightful Piazza Campo de’ Fiori. The name means “field of flowers’ which dates back to when the area was nothing but meadows throughout the middle ages. The streets leading onto the piazza are all named after trades – Via dei Balestrari (crossbow makers) and Via dei Guibbonari (tailors) etc. These days there is a bustling market which sells fruit, vegetables, cheeses, and meats, but, in the distant past, it was used as a horse market. Campo de’ Fiori was also used as a place for execution and many a poor soul was burned there. The philosopher, Giordano Bruno among them. Bruno became posthumously renowned for the concept of free thought and new scientific points of view. You can see the statue of Bruno in the middle of the square.

Places to visit in Rome
Piazza Campo de’ Fiori

More photographs at www.morrisophotography.co.uk

Piazza del Popolo

Enter through the gateway that is Porta del Popolo and you’ll be greeted to a large circular space with fountains and one of the tallest Egyptian obelisks in Rome. The name means “people’s square” which is fitting because it is a place where people can congregate and enjoy each other’s company. Piazza del Popolo was designed in the neo-classical style by Giuseppe Valadier and it links onto the Via Corso which used to be an ancient Roman road called Via Lata.

There are many trees here, making it one of the most attractive piazzas in Rome. The Fountain of the Obelisk is in the middle with its 4 attending lion statues. The Fountain of Neptune and the Fountain of Rome between the Tiber and Aniene flank either side.

We stood and watched some young Sunday morning footballers in action amidst a chattering audience, before climbing the steps to the Pincio Gardens where we could look get a good look at the piazza from our vantage point.

Places to visit in Rome
Piazza del Popolo

More photographs at www.morrisophotography.co.uk

Piazza di Spagna

This little piazza is overshadowed by the well-known Spanish steps that lead down to it, but if you wander around there are little gems to be found. John Keats House has been turned into a museum or there’s Babington Tea Rooms which have been in business since 1893. In the centre of the piazza is the Fountain of the Longboat and hundreds of tourists taking photographs of the famous steps.

Walk away from the throng of people and you’ll find people selling chestnuts or street cafes in the nearby Piazza Mignanelli which is a continuation of Piazza di Spagna. There you’ll find the Column of the Immaculate Conception with its statue of the Virgin Mary at the top and statues of David, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Moses at the base. The column was erected by the city’s firemen and, every year, the fire department places flowers on the monument with the motto: Flammas domamus, donamus corda or we stop fires, giving our hearts.

Places to visit in Rome
Piazza di Spagna

More photographs at www.morrisophotography.co.uk

Piazza della Rotonda

This charming piazza was originally jam-packed with shops until Pope Eugenius had them all removed and the area paved in the 15th century. In the shadows of the pantheon, Piazza della Rotonda has always been a hive of activity. A traveller passing through in 1819 described it as:

“Being distinguished (from other parts of Rome) by the gay appearance of the fruit and cake stalls, dressed with flowers and lighted with paper lanterns”

Another traveller, Charlotte Anne Eaton, thought the complete opposite:

“Surrounded by all that is most revolting to the senses, distracted by incessant uproar, pestered with a crowd of clamorous beggars, and stuck fast in the congregate filth of every description that covers the slippery pavement. Nothing resembling such as hole as this could exist in England, nor is it possible that an English imagination can conceive a combination of such disgusting dirt, such filthy odours and foul puddles, such as that which fills the vegetable market in the Piazza della Rotonda at Rome”

Each to their own I guess, but maybe Ms Eaton should have stayed in England!

Thankfully, there wasn’t any disgusting dirt or filthy odours when we sat on the steps of the fountain admiring the beautiful Pantheon and watching the world go by.

The piazza’s fountain, called the Fontana della Pantheon, was built by Giacomo Della Porta in 1575 and has a red marble Egyptian obelisk rising up from the middle. The obelisk was originally built by Pharaoh Ramses II and, after it was re-discovered in 1374, it was moved to Piazza della Rotonda in 1711.

Places to visit in Rome
Piazza della Rotonda

More photographs at www.morrisophotography.co.uk

Have you been to Rome? What are your favourite piazzas? 🙂

 

 

12 Replies to “The Best Piazzas in Rome”

  1. Fantastic post, Gill, a perfect guide around the beautiful piazzas. I remember Piazza Navona best because I ate a lunch there and took many photographs of the artists and their stalls. Thank you for this excursion to The City of my Dreams 🙂

    1. You are very welcome Inese. Yes, Piazza Navona is just lovely. We did the same when we were there! Thank you for you kind comment. Hope you are having a lovely weekend 🙂 xx

  2. Sounds great but they will never taste like the pizzas in Italy.

    When I volunteered in Kha Lak, went to an Italian restaurant each month for my pizza fix but even though the guy is Italian, they never taste like here… 😉

    1. I had a delicious pizza on Piazza Camp de Fiori in Rome. Have to say though, I had a pizza in a restaurant in Bangkok and it was delicious. The Italian owner even came over to ask how the food was, so authentic can be found here, but I agree not as good as the real deal 🙂

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