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Piazza di Spagna has been a compulsory stop for visitors to Rome since the eighteenth century, when a host of poets and musicians stayed in the vicinity. The square takes its name from the Spanish Embassy, which has been here for several centuries but it is better known for the recently renovated Spanish Steps, the elegant double staircase built in the 1720s that cascades down from church of the Trinita dei Monti. At Christmas, a crib is erected half-way up, in spring the steps are adorned with huge tubs of azaleas for the fashion shows that take place there. At the foot of the stairs there is a delightfull boat-shaped fountain, designed in 1627 by Gianlorenzo Bernini or his less famous father Pietro, and ingeniously sunk below ground level to compensate for the low pressure of the Acqua Vergine which feeds it.

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