The best piazzas of Rome

September, 02 2016 ( Updated September, 08 2021)

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. But that is not the only reason why you should take some time out from your packed schedule to visit some of the many stunning piazzas in the city. Of course, piazzas in Rome represent the Romans’ age-old love for the outdoors, but these piazzas should make to your itineraries also for their unique charm, architectural, historical and religious importance. These piazzas with their beautiful fountains are major cultural hubs and attract locals and tourists alike. Some of the most iconic piazzas of Rome that you shouldn’t miss are:

Piazza Navona:

Built over the 1st-century Stadio di Domiziano (a stadium where Romans enjoyed games) the Piazza Navona is designed to enrapture you with its baroque architecture, lively atmosphere and fascinating history. The public square which is surrounded by restaurants and cafes is always bustling with tourists, locals, artists and entertainers. In the center of the oblong square stands the famous Fountain of Four Rivers by the famous architect and sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It represents the five most important rivers from different continents known at that time- Danube, Nile, Ganges and Rio de La Plata. At the southern end is the Fontana del Moro with a basin and four Tritons sculpted by Giacomo della Porta. Bernini added a statue of a Moor wrestling with a dolphin later. At the northern end is the Fountain of Neptune also created by Giacomo della Porta. Tourists mostly come here to sit and enjoy the view but you can always settle down and have a great meal at one of the restaurants.

Piazza San Pietro:

Piazza San Pietro or St. Peter’s Square isn’t technically in the Rome city, but you can’t miss it on your Rome vacation. It is quite unlike other piazzas which are famous for people watching, rather the piazza is important because it leads to the St. Peter’s church, the most important church in the world. The Piazza is designed in the form of two hemispheres with their characteristic colonnades. Bernini, the architect who designed it, built it as two arms open to hug the visitors into the folds of the church. In the center of the piazza stands a monumental Egyptian obelisk which was brought to Rome by Emperor Caligola in 37BC. The piazza is the space where you can catch a glimpse of the Pope when he comes to wave the audience. When you are here don’t miss to look out for that special spot from where the rows of the columns appear as one instead of four.

Piazza Campo di Fiori:

The piazza is primarily known for the colourful flowers, vegetable and fruit market that adorn the public square everyday except on Sundays. But its history is not very pleasant. Campo di Fiori, which means meadows of flowers, was once the site where important executions happened. In the square stands the statue of Giordano Bruno, a Monastic philosopher who was executed here. The statue’s facial expression is such that it seems as if it were frowning at the visitors. The piazza has a lovely and lively atmosphere circled by bars, cafes and trattoria. All through the day you will find tourists and visitors posing and snapping pictures while at night the place turns into an amazing hangout zone where young people, students mostly, come to visit the bars and enjoy the evening.

Piazza della Madonna dei Monti:

Piazza della Madonna dei Monti is the central hub of Monti where you can get your fix of cappuccino at the numerous cafes which encircle the square. The public space lies at the cross-section of major attractions such as the Colosseum, the Quirinal hill and the imposing Santa Maria Maggiore basilica. The fountain and the steps surrounding it are iconic and is occupied by all kinds of people who come to enjoy the picturesque square and the medieval buildings that surround it. You can find a lot of locals coming here to enjoy a delicious Italian lunch. However, as the evening wears off, the place comes alive with renewed energy. Youngsters swarm in to enjoy a bottle of beer and their favourite pizza at the public square. The piazza is a great place to hangout irrespective of the time of the day or night.

Piazza del Popolo:

Piazza del Popolo or the People’s square is located at the northern edge of the city and is has the beautiful church Santa Maria del Popolo and the Villa Borghese park in its neighbourhood. The church is full of exquisite artworks by Caravaggio, Bernini, Raphael and Pinturicchio. At the center of the square lies the Egyptian obelisk of Ramses II with four lions sitting at its four corners sending sheets of water into the basin from their paws. The twin churches-  Santa Maria dei Miracoli (1681) and Santa Maria in Montesanto (1679)- frame one of the sides of the square. They appear quite identical but a close scrutiny reveals that they are more than mere copies of each other. The square and its picturesque settings are a good place to sit and relax.The street leading to the piazza is a popular place to shop for art and craft.


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