Roman Holiday – Part 2

Rome - family vacation - June 2015 (209) - The Spanish Steps

By Judy Berman

Gladiators and emperors first come to mind when I think of Rome. But, centuries later, the Eternal City also drew artists and writers – such as English Romantic poet John Keats.

Keats came to Rome to recover from consumption. He lived in a home at the foot of the Spanish Steps and also died there at the age of 25 in 1821. The Keats-Shelley Memorial House showcases his works along with Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and many others.

The Spanish Steps, a Roman Baroque structure, were built in 1723-1725. You climb a “steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinita dei Monti, dominated by the Trinita dei Monti church at the top.” (Wikipedia) The Via dei Condotti, facing the Spanish Steps, is lined with shops carrying the names of Rome’s high-end Italian fashion designers -– Prada, Valentino and Gucci.

Throngs of people and vendors crowd the steps. We avoid the hassle of threading our way to the top by taking a side street to the Spanish Steps. Two already are at the top waiting for us. (Photo above)

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There are 138 steps in the Spanish Steps -–  “la scalinata” (the staircase). At the bottom is the Fontana delia Barcaccia -– the “fountain of the leaky boat” which is spouting water as it sinks.  The fountain was built in 1598 as a monument to the great flood of the river Tiber that same year. It was commissioned by Pope Urban VII and is the work of Pietro Bernini and his son, Gian Lorenzo.

The climb is worth the trip, especially if you get there just before sunset.

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The next day, we head to the Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere near our hotel. There’s no need to bring bottled water. Public fountains provide liquid refreshment for man and dog alike.

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The piazza features many delights. We saw a man painted in silver remain motionless like a statue, and an Invisible Woman – or, at least, I think we did.

Rome - family vacation - June 2015 (76) - invisible woman with Judy, Jenn, Kaitlyn & Connor

We definitely saw a marionette paint with a little help from his friend in a blue dress. (Valentina Balduzzi – il fiore e la luna). Very impressive. Occasionally, the puppet  peeked into the tin hat to see if anyone left a tip. He made his point – many did so.

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Of course, we had to refuel. For lunch, we returned to Dar Poeta. They serve both thin crust and a thick crust (alta). We got the latter, and used a fork and knife to eat it. That’s the Italian way!

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Then it was back to dodge the traffic in the narrow cobblestoned corridor from the piazza. It’s best to keep one eye out for darting Vespas and Smart Cars.

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The neighborhood our hotel is in has many wonderful shops, restaurants and bakeries. Innocenti’s had some mouth-watering cookies that we just couldn’t pass up.

Rome - family vacation - June 2015 (234) - bakery - Innocenti

The area’s ochre and terra-cotta painted buildings are picturesque.

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For our last night, we returned to Ristoranti I Vascellari. Our waiter brought a small bottle of Limoncello to our table. Limoncello is the generic name for an Italian citrus-based lemon liqueur that is served well-chilled in the summer months. Some consider it the national drink of Italy.

After we left, we walked over to the Tiber River. The lights are from a festival. We’d seen the white tents set up days before. Now, there were people dining along the river, buying art, and having a great time.

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On our travels, we also visited the Vatican and Venice. I’ll posts stories about those places in coming weeks. Unless, you’re the Griswolds (Chevy Chase’s family in the movie, “European Vacation”), vacations always end too soon.

“Roma, non basta una vita.” (Rome, a lifetime is not enough.)

It was an amazing journey and I’d love to return to Rome and Venice. Buon viaggio! Happy travels!

What favorite spot do you want to return to?

My next post will be about our visit to The Vatican.

Part 1 of our Rome trip – Roaming the Streets of Rome – can be found here.

All photos taken by me (except the one with the Invisible Woman): Photographer – Judy Berman. My husband, Dave Berman, took the photo of us with the Invisible Woman.

Copyright. Please ask for permission to use any of my photos or comments from this story. Thank you.

  1. I remember sitting on the Spanish steps thinking thoughts reminiscent of Shelley, Keats, and of course Lord Byron. I kept framed photos of their memorials in my office at the College. Of course, my students were never as impressed with them as I was.

    How lovely you could enjoy all of this with family – ah, the memories!

    1. Marian … Our son-in-law, Vern, was the one who spotted the plaque to John Keats as we were leaving the Spanish Steps. Did you get to see the museum?

      It was late and the museum was closed. So we never got to see what they had. But, yes, the rest we will treasure. 😉

      1. Sadly, no. I believe we saw the plaque but did not get to see the museum. There is SO much to see in Rome. We spent 3 days of our Italian holiday there, and did so much: I remember developing prickly heat splotches on my ankles from all of the walking and gawking. It was July too!

  2. Fabulous photos from what looks like a fabulous vacation! I can’t decide which photo I like the most!
    I would love to go back to Italy–I really loved Venice, but of course, Rome is amazing.

    We saw a silver man when we were in Italy, too, but I think it was from Florence. I have a photo somewhere. 🙂

    1. Merril … I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. The silver man we saw was struggling to maintain his position. We tipped him and he was good-natured about his situation. 😉

  3. Ah yes, I remember the silver -painted men in Rome. Lots of ‘gladiators’ too. All I could think of was how hot they must be. It was in the high 90s when we were there!

  4. I may have lived in Europe for 19 months but my sister Judy has seen far more of the world than I ever did

    1. Joseph … I think it’d be pretty cool to live in one of those places. As a fellow blogger noted, she might not have traveled broadly. But she traveled well. I believe you could say the same. 😉

  5. One of my (many) favorite memories of Rome was the Spanish Steps, Judy, but your family “portrait” really endeared the image to me. I enjoyed this post very much! Thank you.

  6. oh, judy, each picture is more wonderful than the next. this looks like such an amazing trip and i love the contrast of the old with the new. stunning.

  7. Great post. Reading it and seeing the pictures transported me once again to Rome. It is one of those cities which never ceases to surprise you at every turn. And as you walk on some of those cobbled pavements, you sense the history of millennia all around you.

    When you visit Vatican, do be careful of pick-pockets on the train. Believe me, they come in all shapes and sizes in Rome!


    1. Shakti … We returned from Rome on June 14th – the week before Father’s Day. You’re right to be cautious about pickpockets. We took the bus to the Vatican (and the train to Venice). Our family of 8 stuck together, but we noticed one or two folks hovering too close for comfort. Fortunately, they were easily discouraged.

      We did have a great time and really enjoyed Rome’s sites and people. 😉

  8. I loved the last water scenes along the Tiber River and the terra cotta village look to the narrow streets. I really think it was so wonderful to be able to take the family on this trip, Judy. I am glad you shared so much and look forward to the Vatican and the gondolas in Venice. You truly had a Roman Holiday.
    I think the varied restaurants look fantastic and Italian food is one of my favorites, Judy.
    There’s nothing better than traveling together to create lifelong memories!

    1. Robin … Thank you. I also loved the blue lighting on the Tiber River and the soft terra cotta look to the buildings. I was in my element, food-wise, as I also love Italian food.
      I’m glad our family was able to travel together. Creating lifelong memories – so true. 😉

  9. Ahh Judy my mouth is watering … No one knows how to cook food like the Italians . Yesterday my sister and myself were sifting through the many boxes lining our loft room and she spotted a pretty bottle . ‘That’ I said ”Once held the licqure Limoncello’ I said . She was most impressed . We bought it on our lovely holiday to Sorrento many years ago . I think I’m due to go back and fill it up.
    I am so enjoying your holiday experience and the history is brill. Look forward to the next instalment .

    1. Thank you, Cherry. I also enjoyed the food. Pasta is one of my favorite dishes. By all means, return to Italy and refill that bottle of Limoncello. The restaurant’s beautiful gesture was a wonderful way to cap the evening and our vacation.

  10. I love the marionette painter and the hat for tips! Looks like you had a wonderful trip, Judy.

    1. Carl … I hope you do. Rome is just beautiful. Our eldest daughter got to visit Italy with her friend’s high school Latin class (Danielle took Spanish). That was about 20 years ago and I always wished that I’d been able to go with her. 😉

  11. Thanks for the wonderful, wonderful tour Judy! And for the snippet from Roman Holiday in your previous post. Loved both! 🙂

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