There’s something wonderfully magical about the outdoors in Italy. No wonder then, that each evening brings out the crowds, all dressed up to see and be seen in squares across town. Historically, in Rome it was the forums where people came out to discuss religion, politics and economy but today these squares called Piazzas cater to a more fun environment – hanging out, eating gelato, watching buskers do their thing and clicking selfies. Dotted with fountains, statues, obelisks, shops, stalls and faux fashion hawkers these piazzas are where la dolce vita comes full circle in all its vibrancy. We enjoyed this part of daily life in Rome, and wished we had more evenings to spend in more of the Piazzas, but these, by far were our favourites.
5 Must See Piazzas in Rome
1. St. Peter’s Square
This is by far the most iconic and most impressive, both for its role in history and present day religion. We visited on a fairly crowded day, but this massive square that sits outside the world’s greatest church in Vatican City looked rather empty. That’s because we’ve seen it on television, at the Pope’s election, bursting at the seams with followers and media. On that spring afternoon, it was dotted with tourists, lining up to enter the Vatican Museum, milling about after a visit and generally taking in this significant site. It was also pretty exciting to spot groups of nuns looking like sweet little penguins, either visiting or going about their day.
2. Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona had begun to feel like home. It was right behind our AirBnb apartment, and the perfect meeting point to catch up if we were splitting up for a day of sight-seeing. Of course, nothing could have prepared us for the long weekend, when it seemed as if all of Rome had emptied into this comparatively smaller square. In the middle sits the fountain of the four rivers with an obelisk at the centre. Featuring the four most important rivers of the world (at the time) we were quite thrilled to discover that even the Ganges is represented here! The entire square is bordered by restaurants and cafes, but know that you’re paying primarily for the view, not the rather unremarkable food.
3. Piazza del Campidiglio
Another Michelangelo marvel, this Piazza sits atop a Capitoline hill, just outside the oldest museum in the world. There’s a definite sense of political power around, as it is the Government headquarters. We saw plenty of official looking people purposefully weaving their way between the ambling tourists. The square gives into a set of sweeping stairs, from where there’s a beautiful view over the neighbourhood to be had. Flanked by some pretty impressive marble sculpture, around the corner sits the famous She Wolf with Romulus and Remus.
4. Piazza Spagna
Elegant, and in one of the most upmarket areas of town surrounded by designer stores, the Piazza di Spagna with its pretty fountain sits below the equally impressive Spanish steps. Currently being renovated by Bvlgari, it’s a showcase for how Italian labels are constantly giving back to the country’s arts and heritage. We happened to be here on a very crowded Labour Day, and were treated to a police band, some very good looking Carabinieri and hordes of people.
5. Campo de’ Fiori
Technically this isn’t an open Piazza, but a market in a square. We passed it on a last minute stroll across town, as we bid goodbye to Rome, but I’m so glad we happened upon it. Filled with the freshest fruits and vegetables, olive oils, pastas, herbs, cheese and sausages, it was busy with locals but very tourist-friendly too. Unfortunately we were all packed and ready to leave, so I couldn’t give in to the temptation of some last minute shopping and we’d definitely recommend you hit this spot early on in your trip.
There are several other Piazzas in Rome that didn’t make the cut either because they didn’t measure up to these 5, or simply because we didn’t have the time to visit them. But they’re all worth a visit if you do have the time! And for those who have been, which Piazzas in Rome did you enjoy the most?