The 7 Best Piazzas in Rome
Piazza del Campidoglio
Piazza del Campidoglio is a work of art in itself – as it was designed by Michelangelo, we wouldn’t expect any less! The geometric design of the piazza faces St Peter’s Basilica – which was the political centre of Rome in Michelangelo’s time. Sadly, the piazza took so long to build and complete Michelangelo never got to see his work finished.
Attracting millions of visitors each year, this piazza is one of the most beautiful squares to visit within Rome. Situated on Capitoline Hill, the piazza is right next to the ever-popular Capitoline Museums, the Palazzo Nuovo and the Palazzo Senatorio.
The most striking artefact on the piazza is the full-size bronze replica of the Marcus Aurelius statue (now safely on display in Capitoline Museums). If you walk up the sweeping staircase and head towards the balcony at the rear of the piazza, you’ll be rewarded with an unrivalled view across the Roman Forum to the Colosseum.
Piazza San Pietro
Right next to Basilica di San Pietro, St Peter’s Square features two beautiful colonnades by Bernini. One of the world’s most famous (and most photographed!) squares, this piazza is used by visitors to get a good view of the Pope when he is addressing his followers.
The piazza was designed to fit as many people in as possible for the Pope’s appearances. In addition to Bernini’s designs for the colonnades and the stunning granite fountain, there’s an ancient Egyptian obelisk decorating the square. Originally standing at Heliopolis in Egypt, it was moved to its current position in 1586.
The best time to visit? Early evening – the tourists have left, and the piazza is beautifully illuminated with a warm light.
Home to one of Bernini’s most famous masterpieces, Piazza Navona is in a class of its own.
The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (or the Fountain of the Four Rivers) features Bernini’s personifications of the major rivers of the four continents under papal control at the time: the Ganges (Asia), the Danube (Europe), the Nile (Africa) and the Río de la Plata (America). It was designed in 1651 for Pope Innocent X whose family palace, the Palazzo Pamphili, faced onto the piazza. The fountain also features the Pamphili family emblem.
The piazza gets its distinctive oval shape from the ruins of an ancient circus, still present underneath its foundations. As with Piazza San Pietro, this piazza is best visited in the evening time to truly appreciate the beautiful palazzi and fountains, perfectly lit to showcase their full splendour.
Campo de’ Fiori
Campo de’ Fiori is the only piazza in Rome without a church. What it lacks in places of worship, it makes up for in Rome’s oldest and most colourful market.
The Campo de’ Fiori market is an absolute must and is open Mon-Sat, 7am-1:30pm every week. Popular with tourists and locals alike, you can purchase fresh produce, cute trinkets and handmade crafts here.
Looking at this gorgeous square now, you’d have no clue that the original use for the site was a public execution area! Keep an eye out – there’s a statue dedicated to the square’s ominous past, showing Giordano Bruno, the heretic who was subsequently burned at the stake in 1600. Bruno was originally a Dominican Monk and known for his philosophical works. His bronze statue sits on the exact place of his execution – deliberately facing the Vatican.
Nowadays, Campo de’ Fiori is a bustling nightspot full of trendy bars and popular eateries. There’s something for everyone!
Piazza di Spagna
The most iconic piazza on this list, Piazza di Spagna is probably the most popular square for new visitors to Rome. Our favourite thing to do here? Grab some gelato, sit on the Spanish Steps and watch the world go by.
Looking for some high-end shopping? The piazza is lined with designer stores and exclusive boutiques – just don’t expect to grab a bargain!
Want to enjoy the sights but avoid the crowds? Try and get to the piazza early in the morning before the usual crowds arrive.
If you don’t mind sharing the sights with other tourists, we highly recommend getting to the top of the Spanish Steps for sundown. The views over Rome are simply breath-taking.
Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere
Cross the Tiber River to get to this picturesque spot. We love stopping off here for a spot of lunch – the daytime sees Piazza di Santa Maria take on a very chilled out vibe with a friendly atmosphere.
For something more lively, pass by in the evening and rub shoulders with locals enjoying an Aperitivo and visitors-in-the-know sampling some of the best food Rome has to offer. There’s plenty of free entertainment too – the square comes alive with street musicians and artists after hours.
Piazza della Rotonda
Last, but definitely not least, on our list is the majestic Piazza della Rotunda.
Bordered by the awe-inspiring Pantheon, this piazza is the perfect place to take in Rome’s amazing ancient architecture. As it’s so popular with tourists, avoid the overpriced restaurants and just take in the wonderful ambience!
If you’d like to learn the fascinating history surrounding these stunning piazzas, consider booking in for our most popular tour: Rome In A Day Private Tour.