Welcome to Piazza di Spagna. The first thing that you will probably notice here is the charming, monumental staircase. It harmoniously follows the slope of the hill. At its feet, there is the beautiful Barcaccia Fountain.
In 1610, they started with the construction of the new aqueduct. They named it Acqua Paola. They wanted to spread freshwater more in the city. That’s why the two aqueducts, which were already operating, weren’t enough (the Acqua Vergine and the Acqua Felice). With freshwater, it was easier to keep the crowded city clean.
The Bernini’s family
In 1626 Pope Urban VIII commissioned Pietro Bernini, to create a fountain in the square below the church of the Trinità dei Monti. Pietro Bernini was already working on the expansion of the aqueduct itself. The work was completed in 1629. Pietro Bernini also asked by his son Gian Lorenzo. It was probably Gian Lorenzo Bernini who completed Barcaccia Fountain when his father died.
One of the legends says that Bernini designed it in the shape of a boat to commemorate floods which were in Rome before. When the water left back to the banks of the river a boat remained in the square. That’s from where the artist took his inspiration fro this beautiful Barcaccia Fountain.
The water flows from six other points into Barcaccia Fountain. There are two sculptures in the shape of a sun with a human face, which throw water towards basins inside the boat. Then you can find there four circular holes which throw the water outwards. In addition to the two suns, there is another interesting decoration at the fountain. It is the tiara and heraldic symbol with three bees. It was a symbol of the family Barberini. That was the first time that a fountain was conceived entirely as a sculptural work, moving away from the canons of the classical geometric-shaped basins which were common at this time.
Did you know that Italian police can fine you when sitting on the Spanish Steps or even at Barcaccia Fountain? It has been forbidden since 2017. You cannot sit there, eat or drink on the Spanish Steps. The fine can get up to 200 Euro. At first, the police will inform you about the restrictions. If you don’t follow their instructions they will fine you. Let’s admit it would be quite an expensive picture with icecream for you Instagram:)!
Did you know that you can actually drink water from this fountain? You can step on the stone in the fountain. It’s prepared there for you to help you to get closer to the stream. You also take quite a nice and original picture here, right:)? Remember you can drink water from almost all the fountains and wells in the city. Don’t do it at the Trevi Fountain! Although the water looks very clean it is forbidden here. The water in Trevi Fountain is still circulating and they are using some chemicals to keep it clean!:)
The beautiful street in front of the steps is called Via Condotti. It is full of luxurious boutiques with all the world-known premium brands. This whole area is famous for its shops. They call it a shopping district. It starts in Via del Corso, where you can find shops with reasonable prices. The closer to the Spanish Steps you get the more you spend when buying something:)! On our tours, we recommend our clients to hide their wallets when passing through this street. Anyway, we will give you enough time at least for some window shopping:)!