The Piazza de Navona and the Spanish Steps!

Trip Start Mar 15, 2012
Trip End Mar 31, 2012

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Flag of Italy  , Lazio,
Saturday, March 17, 2012

Day 3 - early evening

Five minutes after leaving the Pantheon and after zigzagging my way around this maze of narrow streets, the Piazza Navona, a city square in Ancient Rome was finally reached! Talk about being close to the place without even knowing it! 

I would like to think that by now we were becoming experts in navigating through these narrow zigzagging cobblestone streets even though along the way we did asked a few people for directions!  Were we getting lazy or something like that because we weren't even bothering looking at the signs that were posted everywhere!  Ha, ha, ha!   We must have been tired!  That’s it, tired!

The Piazza Navona was everything I had seen in pictures but even nicer in person! This pedestrian paradise was filled with cafes in which many people ate on outside terraces where multicolor umbrellas provided shade against the rays of the warm sun. 

Looking around, street performers could be heard playing their musical instruments while artists continued painting various scenes on their wet canvasses.  Tourists were everywhere taking pictures!  I was one of them too as we slowly made our way towards the famous Fountain of the Four Rivers built in 1651 and designed by the one and only….Bernini.  It was located in the center of the rectangular square. 

The fountain itself was quite nice, no comparison to the Trevi Fountain though and had gigantic sculptures of four river gods representing four major rivers of four continents through which papal authority had spread.  They were the Nile representing Africa, the Danube representing Europe, the Ganges representing Asia, and the Platte representing the Americas.  Interesting facts!

  You should know that the Piazza Navona square also had two additional fountains; one at the southern end called the Fontana del Moro (1575) and the other one, the Fontana del Neptune (1574) located at the northern end. 

After staying here just a short while, without wasting any more time we retraced our steps and walked once again in front of the Pantheon before exiting these side alleys and arriving on the main street, the Via del Corso.   And no, this time we didn’t ask for directions.  I just followed my nose which gave me all the navigational aid required.  Ha, ha, ha!

By heading north for a short while, the famous Spanish Steps were reached at around 5:30pm, the next place to visit on my itinerary! 

Just like everywhere else here in Ancient Rome, the place was quite crowded with people.  You even had trouble making your way around without stepping on someone’s foot!  Unexpectedly, I was approached by a gypsy who handed me a rose while saying all the right words such as a free rose for a lovely lady! 

Free, my @!x@!  As if anything was free today!  He immediately became a real pest as he followed us for a few minutes continuing blabbing to eventually turning around and asking Michel for some money for it!   Well, let me tell you that as he continued with all of his bullshit, I quickly handed his rose back! What a tourist trap!

At the base of the Spanish Steps, I admired the Fountain of the Old Boat which just like its name, was in the shape of a boat.  It was built in 1627-29 by Bernini.  From here and looking straight up in the direction of the Spanish Steps also known as a monumental stairway of 138 steps and built in 1723-25, it was in that direction where I hastily made my way after finishing admiring the fountain.

Climbing the steep slope was quite easy even though lots of people were sitting everywhere on the steps.   At the very top of them, the Trinita dei Monti, an impressive church dominated the landscape.  From reading a sign, I learned that the Spanish Steps were the widest staircase in Europe.  Interesting fact!  And to think, I had just climbed them!  Yeahhh!

It was now 6:00pm and we were getting hungry.  It was time to eat!   Having spotted a McDonald on our way here, you guessed it, that’s exactly where we went for a bite to eat.  I just didn’t feel like eating any special dish at the moment and much preferred to grab something prepared fast and on the go.

  Just as expected, the McDonald restaurant was quite huge and crowded!  So, you see, I wasn’t the only one going there!  Ha, ha, ha!   After all, it was located right in the middle of all of the tourist attractions. 

After walking around for a few minutes, we were able to find a cozy table to eat on the second floor after having ordered a Caesar salad with crispy chicken for myself and for Michel, his usual big mac.  It quickly filled my empty stomach and I felt quite full afterwards.   Hurrah for McDonalds!!!!.

Dusk soon settled in!  It was now time to head back and explore Ancient Rome at night!

Monique   :-)
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