Written by Si
First of all, I would like to thank City Wonders tour group for allowing us to see and learn about many interesting places in Rome. John, our tour guide, was very good. The reason I have to mention these guys is because without them, I probably would not have all the content and info I managed to store in my mind to write this page!
We arrived via the Metro at the Spagna station. Our night tour begun right next to the Spanish Steps (genuinely I did not even know we were actually already next to them!).
Learning about a local English tea shop that sits on the cornet of these steps (the first ever in Italy), which was formed because in 1893, the owner (Babington) felt the need to bring our culture over to Rome – and even today is stands there. To the right a building, still with his name on the side, is where poet John Keats once lived and created his romantic poems centuries ago.
At the bottom of the 135 steps resides the Fountain of the old boat aka ‘Fontana della Barcaccia’ – which is a beautifully carved stone boat that provides actual drinking water for free, from the amazing aqueduct system then provides all of Rome free water. This particular fountain has many stories but the one we stuck with was that an old fishing boat had been brought to this location during a flood in the 16th century. It resembles it’s position of where it was left (according to legend).
The steps themselves, built in the 17th Century, are simply steps that lead from the Spanish embassy at the top, designed by Italians and French, the element of ‘Spanish’ merely comes from the embassy and flows down. Since then, it is used as a beautiful public setting, and partially funded upkeep by the local businesses and particularly the major fashion names we all know and love. Note the Egyptian pointy statue at the top, I will come back to this and many others later!
After seeing the steps, we walked down the street slightly, taking in the amazing Rome atmosphere of happiness and life. We came to a halt in front of a very tall column statue, depicted the Virgin Mary and carrying a Golden Reef (zoom in). Built around 1857, is still stands strong and depicts 4 key biblical individuals around the base. Make sure you got to see it after the steps and also enjoy the piazza.
Now, I have to put this bit in, it was not part of the tour, but if you ever get to go to Rome – you will notice there are hundreds of Churches etc. the best part is most of them are always open. We had a very small break before moving on to the next famous landmark, but we stood outside a church. I could hear Italian hymns being sung – me being me, I walked away from the tour group and went inside. I hope you enjoy the view as I did, but it does not do it any justice vs actually being there in person! I will advise to go in any church in Rome when you can – inside they all are just amazing!
Sorry, I digress (but worth it!)….
Our next stop, everyone talks about it, everyone has heard about it, but when you get there and see it for the first time – WOW! What a beautiful piece of architecture. We were given a penny, we did the traditional procession of making a wish (this is done in a very specific way) and makes it that more special. Yes, it is the Trevi Fountain. If you get a chance, go and see it also when it is dark – once lit up it is truly lovely.
The statue of Ocean whom sits right in the middle, beautifully carved out of marble, as is the whole fountain, also joined by Health and Abundance – there is a whole story written visually – as are many landmarks in Rome, all having special meanings and surviving many centuries to still hold these great stories and pass on something so special to us all here today. You could sit there all day!
Sadly, we needed to move on to the next part of the tour. We were taken to another column, I do hope you can see or zoom in to this one, it is quite staggering the detail that is on this. This column of Marcus Aurelius is jam packed with stories, a kind of like flowing strip of cartoons stories if you like, but depicts the emperor’s successes. But like everything in Rome, there is always a twist – the statue at the top was replaces by a Pope in the 15th Century, with one of St.Paul instead. He did mention the original statue can be found in a museum somewhere in case you ever did want to see it.
Moving on from this column, we were taken to outside the Pantheon – we have yet to go inside this but hope to on our third visit to Rome for sure! Again, note the Egyptian column! But the Pantheon was such a beautiful building and set in a typical Roman square where today everyone enjoys its beauty and fine dining around it.
Our final stop before the finale, we were taken to a very large Egyptian column, i.e an obelisk. Many of these over Rome were used as sun dials, but mostly brought over from Egypt centuries ago when the Emperor’s of Italy visited and brought them back with them, some suggesting an element of power by the Pope’s – a higher being and of respect of the Pharaohs. I love Egypt, I was so pleased to see these, but also showing a collision of two amazing times in history, both with so much meaning. There was a huge one in St.Peters square at the Vatican I believe over 300 tonnes in weight too! They do all fit in well don’t they!
Before the final landmark, we were taken for a nice drink of wine and some nibbles at a local restaurant, taking in the relaxing mood of the locals and enjoying a bit of time with our fellow tourists (a couple even live about 10 minutes from us at home!).
We were then taken to the tour guides favourite fountains (and I actually prefer these to the Trevi too) the Fountain of the four rivers, these tell a fascinating story within the carvings amazing architecture. The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi also sits in front of an amazing Palace ‘Palazzo Pamphili’ where Pope Innocent the 5th resided. Again a beautiful Egyptian sits right in the middle of the Fountain.
The whole area of this piazza is amazing, and includes a couple of other fountains. This is where the Tour Guide, John, left us, in this magnificent area and with an experience we will never forget. As John did, I leave you here also. Thank you for reading, feel free to leave comments below.