Day 16: Tuesday, April 26, 2005, photos by Pat Tyler.
Streets of Rome On Foot
The Spanish Steps
This is the place that Romans and visitors come to see and be seen.
There were plenty of them to see on this day. Needless to say, we weren't inclined to linger.
There's a lovely fountain here, but we couldn't see it.
In the 17th century the French owners of Trinità dei Monti decided to link the church with Piazza di Spagna by building a magnificent new flight of steps. They also planned to place an equestrian statue of King Louis XIV at the top. Pope Alexander VII Chigi was not very happy at the prospect of erecting a statue of a French monarch in the papal city, and the arguments continued until the 1720s, when an Italian architect, Francesco de Sanctis, produced a design that satisfied both parties. The steps, completed in 1726, combine straight sections, curves, and terraces to create one of the city's most dramatic and distinctive landmarks.
When Charles Dickens visited Rome, he reported that the Spanish Steps were the meeting place for artists' models, who would dress in colorful traditional costumes, hoping to catch the attention of a wealthy artist. The steps are now a popular place to sit, write postcards, take photos, flirt, or just watch the passers-by, but eating there is no longer allowed.
We had no map, but were in need of a restroom. We found an elevator that went down to the metro station. But there were no restrooms there.
Eventually we happened on a piazza — a quiet one with almost no people. In that piazza was the cleanest public restroom we have ever seen anywhere. Now, we don't usually talk about restroom facilities, but if the Travel Channel can have features on them, I guess we can mention them from time to time. This place was small, but it had an attendant. The fixtures were sterilized with ultraviolet light, and he mopped the floor after each customer! As I recall he just required a small donation.
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