Spanish Steps Flowers - Signs of Spring
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The Spanish Steps Flowers Are A Sure Sign Of Spring In Rome

The Spanish Steps flowers are an annual reminder that Spring has arrived in Rome along with the beautiful weather and tourists looking to enjoy the beauty.

Spanish Steps Flowers - Sprintime

Late in April, as a harbinger of the great Roman weather that will arrive soon, the Spanish Steps are transformed into a beautiful backdrop ready for family, wedding and social media pictures as they are covered in a field of azaleas. Even though they supposedly are on display for a month, as soon as you make time to see them, they might be gone, so be sure to see them as soon as you learn that they are on display. I missed them in previous years expecting that I had enough time.

Why Are There Flowers On The Spanish Steps?

The flowers that are on display on the Spanish Steps are azaleas grown by the Semenzaio di San Sisto (plant nursery) and installed by the Servizio Giardini of the city of Rome. The tradition started in the 1930s and originally the flowers were displayed in the less well-known Villa Aldobrandini Park. In 1952 they were moved to Piazza di Spagna so a larger audience could enjoy the beauty.

The Semenzaio di S. Sisto is near Villa Celimontana and has been the nursery for the production of plants for the public gardens and parks of Rome since the beginning of the 19th century. The history of the Semenzaio (seedbed) begins in 1810 when the Napoleonic authorities decided to create a Roman nursery to grow plants to be used in the new avenues and public parks of the city. Following various historical events, the nursery was abandoned and restored several times. 

Spanish Steps Flowers - Beautiful Backdrop

What Are The Flowers In The Spanish Steps?

Currently, there are around 250 separate azalea plants spread all across the stairs. Of these, there are two distinct varieties of flowers that decorate the Spanish Steps. The first type is the Rhododendron indicum, which is also known as a Southern Indian Azalea and is native to Japan. The second type of azalea is the “Bianca di piazza di Spagna” (the “White of Piazza di Spagna“) that was developed specifically for the display on the Spanish Steps. 

When Is A Good Time To See The Spanish Steps Flowers?

These yearly events in Rome can easily be missed, even if you live here. Start watching social media for posts that the azaleas have arrived (around mid-April) and hurry on over. I prefer to get places early, so I would recommend arriving at first light and you will have the steps mostly to yourself.

During the day and into the evening the Spanish Steps get very busy, and while you will still be able to walk up and down them (probably), if you are looking for pictures focusing on the flowers and not the people, you might be out of luck.

I have read about how they leave the lights on in the evening for an even more beautiful setting, the crowds will certainly be at their peak. The only redeeming thing about this time of year is that the tourist crowds are still a bit restrained (as opposed to during the summer), but not by much.

Spanish Steps Flowers - Posing

Can You Sit On The Spanish Steps And Enjoy The Flowers?

You are not allowed to sit on the Spanish Steps and there are usually police around to enforce this Rule. When I was last there to see the Azaleas I did see people sitting as they posed for pictures, but it was only a brief stop and they then quickly moved on.

Over the years, and continuing up to today, the image and portrayal of the Spanish Steps for fashion brands is so important that it led companies like Bulgari to pay for the restoration of the steps, at a cost of €1.5 million, to re-establish its grandeur in 2016.

After the restoration, sitting on the steps was banned as a way to prevent damage to one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. You should be aware of these restrictions because if you are caught sitting on the steps, you could receive a very expensive fine (€400) and be banished from the area.

Spanish Steps Flowers - Celebration

What Is So Famous About The Spanish Steps?

You might be wondering: Why are the Spanish Steps famous? Well, they are certainly beautiful, dramatic and sitting directly in the popular path of most tourists. For me, however, the fame came from the movies. The film Roman Holiday was shot in Rome at the Cinecittà Studios, with location shots all around town. The striking view of Audrey Hepburn meeting at the Spanish Steps is a classic of Italian and American cinema, and shouldn’t be missed. It remains today one of my favorite Italian movies, even though it is in English.

In addition to my favorite movie, the Spanish Steps are so inspiring that they appeared in books by Tom Clancy, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others, as well as a long list of movies and TV shows that includes: The Talented Mr. Ripley, Everybody Loves Raymond, To Rome with Love and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Spanish Steps Flowers - Beauty

How Do You Reach The Spanish Steps?

The Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna are among the most popular tourist sites in Rome and it would be hard to miss them. Walking on Via del Corso from Piazza Venezia to Piazza Del Popolo, you will see them just by looking right as you cross over Via dei Condotti.

This map should help you easily navigate to the Spanish Steps:

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