best squares in rome

6 Best Squares to visit in Rome

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Piazza Navona:

Piazza Navona Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona Rome Piazza Navona Rome
Piazza Navona Piazza Navona

A must visit on your trip to Rome.

One of the most beautiful squares in Rome laid out on the plan of the Roma Amphitheatre.

Built on the ruins of the Stadium of Diocletian, this dramatic baroque square is the most theatrical in Rome, either by day or night.

It’s known for its trio of flamboyant fountains, including Bernini’s Fontana dei Fiumi, the Fontana di Nettuno, and the Fontana del Moro. Cafes and restaurants abound on the square.

Why visit Piazza Navona?

Three fountains decorate the square:

–> the Fontana del Moro,

at the southern end, so called for the statue of the Moor fighting a dolphin.

It was also projected by G.L.Bernini, conceived to make more imposing a beautiful basin with the four Tritons.

The statue of Moro (1653) was placed in the middle and was executed by Giovan Antonio Mari.

–> the Fontana dei Fiumi,

one of Bernini’s most spectacular masterpieces in Rome, stands right in the centre of Piazza Navona.

The four rivers referred to the most known rivers of the four corners of the world at that time: The Danube (Europe), the Nile (Africa), the Ganges (India) and Rio de la Plata (Americas.).

Recently the fountain became more famous due to Dan Brown’s book “Angels and Demons”.

The 4 figures surround a large obelisk granite height of 16.5 meters

–> the Fontana del Nettuno 

at the northern end. The fountain depicts Neptune fighting with a sea monster, surrounded by sea nymphs.

This fountain was added in the 19th century, to make the piazza more symmetrical.

You can stroll the Piazza looking at the architecture, fountains and church located there, or sit and have a bite and a bottle) of wine.

The cafe and bars all around the perimeter are great places for sitting, watching, and just soaking up the atmosphere, although the food, drinks and service charges are more expensive in and around here: better off going around the corner to a smaller trattoria where the prices are at least half of the piazza Navona.

How to Reach Piazza Navona

Piazza del Popolo

Piazza del Popolo is a beautiful, oval, neoclassical square.

The Piazza del Popolo (meaning The People’s Square) is located inside the northern gate of the city, which was once called the Porta Flaminia. The square is situated at the beginning of Via Flaminia and was the main entrance to the city during the Roman Empire.

It was designed by the architect Valadier for Pope Pius VII, in order to give the first impression of beauty and magnificence to the people coming to Rome from the North; as visitors had to enter the city through this square.

Why visit Piazza del Popolo?

Today on the square you can see many impressive structures:

Porta del Popolo: The northern side of the square is dominated by a magnificent gate, which leads to via Flaminia

The Obelisk: an Egyptian obelisk of Ramses II (a mere 3,200 years old).

Fountains The fountain on the west side of the square is Fontana del Nettuno or the Neptune Fountain.

The twin churches Behind the obelisk are standing the two twin churches of Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto.

Santa Maria del Popolo  The church is located on the right side, near Porta del Popolo. The church contains many impressive pieces of art, including two famous Caravaggio paintings and Rome’s oldest stained-glass windows.

How to Reach Piazza del Popolo

Piazza di Spagna

First, the downside. The Spanish Steps are so overrun with tourists both day and night that you may be trampled underfoot.

If not, you can appreciate their beauty.

The famous steps were built in 1723 to link the church of Trinità dei Monti with the chic shopping street, Via dei Condotti, below.

In the 19th century poets such as Keats and Goethe made their homes here, and artists combed the steps for prospective models, many halves draped to show off their perfect bodies.

Free & one of the must-visit locations for a photo sitting on the steps.

Do climb to the top for great views across a section of the city.

Also, visit the church & light a candle for a moment of reflection or maybe thoughts of loved ones no longer with you. Watch out for the endless street vendors shoving…

Go to one of the small vias nearby and you will find great bars and restaurants.

Why visit the Spanish Steps?

1. The Steps

There are exactly 135 steps gleaming after a recent clean-up, The steps are the widest stairway in all of Europe – making them a perfect meeting place

2. The fountain

The Barcaccia (the ‘sinking boat’ fountain) is believed to be by Pietro Bernini, father of the more famous Gian Lorenzo. In 2015.

it was damaged by Dutch football fans, and the Dutch subsequently offered to repair it.

3. The name

Piazza di Spagna was named after the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See, although the staircase, designed by the Italian Francesco de Sanctis, was built in 1725 with money bequeathed by a French diplomat.

4. A popular place

Already in the Renaissance period, the square was one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city and it still is to this very day.

The Spanish Steps are usually very crowded during the summer months, with tourists just sitting, chatting, and taking a rest from visiting the designer shops that litter the area.

Throughout history, the Spanish Steps have been restored several times.

Today, eating and drinking on the steps is strictly forbidden in order to keep the staircase clean.

How to reach Spanish Steps

Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere

Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere is the heart of Trastevere.

Apart from the old buildings that overlook the square, among which is the monumental 17th century Palazzo San Callisto (1613) belonging to the Holy See, there are two elements that embellish it: the fountain and the Church.

Dominating the square is the church of Santa Maria, famous for its 12th-century mosaics by Pietro Cavallini.

At night the fountain in the centre, created by Carlo Fontana in 1692, is a popular meeting place.

The best part of the day to visit this square and Trastevere, in general, is evening and night-time when the soft lights of street lamps create the atmosphere of past centuries; the atmosphere of Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere is cosy and friendly, like a large living room.

The piazza provides open space, alfresco cafe dining and access to a church.

Not that many tourists, many locals. Not that expensive like the centre of the city, with an authentic vibe…and of course church Santa Maria which is a must see.

Every evening there was musical entertainment with lots of locals just hanging out in the Piazza.

In this piazza, you can picture yourself living here, just as you are. Suddenly, for the first time during your trip, you feel like you belong here. It’s homey, charming, cosy, romantic, adventurous, my new favourite place.

Why visit Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere?

1. the Fountain

This is one of the most ancient of the monumental fountains in Rome, already documented in the plan by Pietro del Massaio (1471) with a structure substantially similar to the one visible today: a polygonal pond at the centre of which rise two basins one on top of the other (later reduced to one).

2. the Church

The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere was possibly even the first church in Rome where a public mass was held.

Before the third-century masses were often held in secret in underground catacombs.

The most attractive part of this church is the many authentic mosaics that were added in the twelfth and thirteenth century.

How to reach Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere

Piazza della Rotonda

Piazza della Rotonda is the square right outside the Pantheon.

As the Pantheon’s informal name is the church of Santa Maria Rotonda, that’s how the piazza gets the name.

The Pantheon is one of the greatest of all buildings from antiquity, dominates this landmark square.

Romans often stop here for pizza or a cup of espresso late in the evening when the tourist hordes have dwindled.

Find your seat at the jumble of open-air cafe tables in front of the Pantheon and take in one of the best architectural views of a lifetime.

The Fontana del Pantheon was commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII and is located in the Piazza della Rotonda, in front of the Roman Pantheon.

It was designed by Giacomo Della Porta in 1575 and sculpted out of marble by Leonardo Sormani.

Why visit Piazza della Rotonda?

Being on a corner of the piazza, watching the people go by and the Pantheon standing unmoved, for almost two millennia.

This piazza is a calm, welcoming site day or night.

While the Pantheon is closed at night, this piazza is beautiful by itself and worth a visit.

The front of the Pantheon is lit, as well as the fountain in the middle of the piazza.

The atmosphere is calm and accompanied by music performed by some very talented street performers.

How to reach Piazza delle Rotonda

Campo de’ Fiori

This “field of flowers” (its English name) was once the site of executions in Rome.

The piazza is also home to Rome’s oldest outdoor produce and flower market, which can be visited during the day: his name was because it hosted (and still hosts) spice and flower market. You can also find fresh fruit and vegetable, The smell of the fresh flowers just freshens your mind.

It’s also one of the few church-free piazzas in the city.

Why visit Campo de’ Fiori?

Giordano Bruno's Statue in Campo de' Fiori
Giordano Bruno’s Statue in Campo de’ Fiori

Campo dei Fiori is a busy and colourful… the atmosphere is typical of the local culture.

In the middle of the square, you can find the statue of Giordano Bruno, an astronomer and Dominican monk, who reportedly was betrayed to the  Inquisition and was burned alive there on Feb 17 in 1600 by the Roman Catholic Church for the crime of heresy after six years in prison.

In the historical town, it is one of the main nightlife attractions for Aperitivo and grabbing a drink, very popular among the British and American expat community living in Rome.

Although it must be said that quite many places are slowly becoming very touristic as in offering tourist menus and microwaved pizzas, there still are some very authentic spots around the square.

You can try one of the most delicious and oldest bakeries in town, Il Forno, on the corner and also go to Ruggieri’s shop and buy nice wine, prosciutto, mozzarella Bufala, pecorino and maybe also porchetta.

This is an incredibly vibrant piazza, with the markets adding an abundance of colour with fruit and vegetables, along with the beautiful smell of the flower stalls, which also add a splash of colour.

The Market is open Monday – Saturday, 7am-2pm. No market Sunday.

Best times to visit:

Morning for the market.

Early evening for Aperitivo

After 10 PM when it comes alive.

Be careful of the roaming trinket sellers, they use distraction tactics to steal. So just keep a careful eye on your stuff and have a good time.

How to reach Campo de’ Fiori

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