ROME, LAZIO, ITALY – Before I had ever visited Rome, I was confused by the appeal of what we know in English as the Spanish Steps. The widest staircase in Europe, these steps lead from the Piazza di Spagna up to Chiesa Trinità dei Monti, a beautiful white church with a very simple but very lovely interior (simple when compared to many of the extravagantly adorned Baroque cathedrals found throughout the city). They were always listed as one of the must-visit attractions in Rome, but without any historical significance or obvious appeal that I could discern.
When first I visited it, I found a strange fountain of a half-sunken ship in the middle of the piazza, and intense crowds of people. Initially unimpressed, I only went to the Piazza when necessary – for a bank that offered certain services or to travel through the metro station on my way to the Borghese Gardens, and for not much else. On this evening, I wandered over from my apartment without any idea as to what I hoped to capture. It was a cold November night, but the piazza was busy. Grandparents in their finest, teenagers snapping photos, locals and tourists alike had converged upon the place. They sat around the fountain, littered themselves among the stairs, gathered around street performers to witness the various contributions to the night. I climbed over the railing circling the fountain and joined the others who sat against it, and I framed this shot. It’s classic, and typical. This is what you will find in Piazza di Spagna: people pausing in their passeggiata to be surrounded – by the crowds, the beauty, the light, the atmosphere.
In that moment, I understood the appeal of the ever-crowded place. Life surrounded me.
I sat and watched people experience this part of Rome for the first time, and the hundredth time, before turning to Via Condotti. I took my time strolling home.