St. Peter’s

‘Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano’, the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in Rome, Italy by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo Buonarotti, Gianlorenzo Bernini, et al. 

Here it is, the big mack daddy of all Christian churches. It didn’t impress me nearly as much as the Pantheon. I think it had to do with the way in which you enter and experience the building; like cattle. St. Peter’s has to deal with so many tourists every day that even simply getting through the front door is a huge airport-TSA-line-like affair. Once you are inside it’s fine, and you’re free to explore, but the procession they’ve set up is hell in the Italian sun. I spent most of my time inside gawking at Michelangelo’s Pietà than actually looking at the building.

The Spanish Steps

‘Scalinata della Trinita dei Monti’, The Spanish Steps by Alessandro Specchi and Francesco de Sanctis in Rome, Italy.

Ah, the Spanish Steps, absolutely classic. Definitely a huge check box on my life-list. Over the course of my recent trip to Europe, I became interested in outdoor public spaces. I tried compiling a list of attributes of successful public spaces. The list includes things like; shade tree, places to sit, children’s play areas, cafes open to the square, furniture, fountains, pedestrian/bike zones, etc. The Spanish Steps don’t have all of those qualities, but they are incredibly successful as an active public space. The place is heavy with history, and the feeling of being in a quintessential Italian space negates the need for a playground or extra shade trees.

Plus, street vendors selling squashy rubber tomatoes!