After our eventful morning with Overome for the Colosseum, the Palantine Hill, and Roman Forum tour, I’ve decided to continue our day with another guided tour in the afternoon with Overome again. This time it was to see the best of Rome, including the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain as well!
The tour starts at 3pm. There were so many big tourist groups gathering around there, so be a little weary not to get lots amongst the big crowds! We waited outside a tea shop which is next to the Spanish Steps for quite a while. Luckily the rain has stopped and Ethan enjoyed waiting on the steps playing around and climbing upon the famous steps. I believe it was 20 minutes later, before I decided to leave my kids and hubby there before I went in search for our tour guide after the crowds have all dispersed. It turned out, they were waiting for us just meters away at the junction of Vicolo del Bottino alley and Piazza di Spagna. I just couldn’t see them amongst the crowds.
The Spanish steps
Francesca surprises us when she told us that the Spanish Steps has nothing to do with the Spanish at all, as the building work was financed by a French diplomat Étienne Gueffier’s in between 1723-1725, and design by an Italian Architect Francesco de Sanctis. It was built in order to link the the Trinità dei Monti church that was under the patronage of the king of France with the area around the Spanish embassy square.
Fontana della Barcaccia
At the bottom of the steps, we were challenged to find the Three Bees. Evelyn was very quick at spotting these straightaway, and Ethan quickly followed. I on the other hand took sometimes! lol! Francesca pointed out the three bees placed at the front of a beautiful sculpture – shape like a boat is called “Fontana della Barcaccia” in translation – “Fountain of the Old Boat.”
This fountain was built as a monument as a reminder the great flood of the Tiber river in 1598. The only possible transportation was by boats. The story goes, a boat was left in the square when the water subsided and was replaced by this sculpture. This work of art was done by father and son, Pietro Bernini and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who were commissioned by the ruler of Italy at the time, Pope Urban VII.
The fountain was built in the style of Baroque where started with the Catholic Church. The church wanted its religious paintings to become more emotional, expressive, dramatic, full of life, movement, and full of emotions, with angels flew, people fought, animals in played, and saints rose to the heavens.
The Three Bees were the tradmark of Bernini’s work.
Column of the Immaculate Conception
Just minutes walk away towards the south east extension of Piazza di Spagna, we found the Column of the Immaculate Conception. It refers to the Virgin Mary being conceived without original sin. Perhaps, this was a subject beyond our little ones’ understandings but never-the-less we enjoyed looking at this huge structure. Every year, flowers were offered to the Virgin Mary by the Roman firemen. Good thing, they are not scared of heights!
As we walked towards the Trevi Fountain, we found many more of Bernini’s Three Bees trademark embedded within Rome’s architectural buildings. More water springs, and a glimpse of the preserved of what is left of the aqueduct system in town was found here too.
It is such a beautiful fountain, but you can only see it when you were up-close, after you go through a mass crowd of people. It is very busy and we’ve been warned by Francesca to be vigilant of our pockets and valuables, as there are pick-pocketers around!
The Trevi fountain lies in the Trevi district. Built in Baroque style from 1732 to 1736 with 26 metres high and 50 metres wide, this make the Trevi fountain – Rome’s largest fountain. It is also one of the best-known ones. There is a saying – if you can toss a coin into the fountain and make a wish, you will return to Rome again. Although, Evelyn needed a little help with tossing her coins as she is a little too small, both E&E likes making their wishes toss a coin in the fountain.
After our little fun at the fountain we carried on with our trail. We passed through the Galleria Alberto Sordi shopping centre where we spotted a shop called Mr Christmas that sells Christmassy things all year round!! If you know of anyone who is crazy about Christmas then this is the shop for them.
Marcus Aurelius Column
By this point, the kids were really tired of listening and all they wanted to do was to run in the car-free zone square. That only leave my hubby and me listening to what Francesca has to say about the square, which she was more than happy to fill us in.
It is basically a comic strip scroll of marble panels carved beautifully, showcasing the emperor’s, Marcus Aurelius, achievements of battles. Starting in AD 176 and finished by his son and successor, Commodus, between AD 180 and 192. The column is 30m high, including the tall base would be massive 43m high.
The building on the right on the photos (with the two flags at the front of the building) is the Prime Minister’s residence – Palazzo Chigi.
In the square, there was also a water fountain called “Fontana di Piazza Colonna” designed by architect Giacomo Della Porta and constructed by the Fiesole sculptor Rocco Rossi between 1575 and 1577. Like the other Roman fountains of its time, it was built to provide clean drinking water to the people of Rome, who before then had to drink the polluted water of the Tiber River. The fountain operated purely by gravity – meaning the source of the water was higher the fountain itself, causing the water to spout out naturally.
Obelisk of Montecitorio
Just metres away, we reached the Obelisk of Montecitorio. Francesca told us there are actually more Egyptian plint in Rome than there are it is in Egypt! Later, the Government spent a fortune making it as a sundial which has nothing to do with the Obelisk of Montecitorio. We know how you feel Francesca.
Via in Aquiro
We walked down a very beautiful cobbled street called Via in Aqurio and saw a toy store called Eclectica. We didn’t go inside the store as we were semi-tired at this point, but the kids enjoyed meeting Pinocchio, which/ who is apparently originates from Rome.
We learnt that in Rome, there is very little space for growing plants, so most Italians grow there own fruits and vegetables in plant pots and mostly on their balcony roof tops. Their lemons are huge! I’ve never seen such big lemons before! I also learnt that artichoke supposed to taste great when pan fried cooked in butter. I never had artichoke before either, and I might just get some to try it out myself.
We also walked passed a really cute authentic restaurant and the kids enjoyed waving at the (cute) Pizzaman making fresh pizza at the time. Such a beautiful site 😉
Before we reached the Pantheon, we stopped at the Tazzadoro Coffee Shop. Francesca tells us that this is the most authentic Italian coffee you can get in Rome! It was so famous and busy that I also couldn’t get a chance to tasting it. The queue was just too enormous to wait around. Oh well… never mind, perhaps next time.
This is what I’ve been waiting for! My Architectural Studies years as a student dreaming of visiting this place has come true! I was so exciting. Francesca got us right through the door like VIPs, skipped the line to view this magnificent place.
It was a little crowded, so it was difficult for E&E to listen to Francesca. She asked us if what we think there is a glass roof covering the hole on the roof top. Ethan and Hubby both said ‘yes’. Evelyn and I both said ‘no’. (I knew the answer already – so no bonus points for me. 😉 ) But yes – there was no glass roof in the hole. So when it rain, the rain just goes right through the hole, making the floor wet beneath. This was proven when the centre of the dome was partially closed off preventing visitors from slipping. Francesca also tells us the floor is concave so the rain water can drain away. A very cleaver architecture design feature indeed.
Francesca also shown us where Raphael, the famous Renaissance painter, was laid to rest at a very young age of just 37 years! Maria Bibbiena, his fiancée, also laid next to him.
After our visit to the Pantheon, we made out way to Piazza Navona. On our way there, we passed Fontana di piazza S. Eustachio, where of course E&E wanted to go in for a swim! lol! Until we reached, Fountain of the Books where we had a little stopped and refreshed ourselves with some spring water.
Constructed in 1927, Francesca told us a story about a Roman Soldier named Saint Eustachio, who worshiped pagan. One day, he went on a deer hunting exhibition in the woods and miraculously a deer starting talking to him, imposing as Jesus. From that point onwards, Eustachio converted himself to a Christian and due to his faith he died in Rome.
The deer in the fountain is surrounded by books, symbolising the wealth of knowledge where it lay adjacent to Palazzo della Sapienza – the first University in Rome, formed in 1300.
This was our last stop. The kids were challenged to spot the animals on the fountains. Which they did very quickly. Piazza Navona is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, in the 1st century AD, where there chariot races were hold in the Roman’s day.
Thank you so much Francesca and Overome for your hospitality. We had a fantastic time on this tour. Even when the kids are a little tired from this morning tour, Francesca had her fantastic ways with the kids. Evelyn especially, has became rather fond of her. They even hold hands walking through the streets of Rome. The tour was engaging with lots of fun things for the kids to search. Francesca is very knowledgeable who was more than happy to answer any questions we may have.
I was rather impressed with Ethan and all that waking since our morning tour, where we actually also walked from the Roman Forum to the Spanish Steps as well! Next time, we’ll remember to take the tube.
If you have small children like us and decided to do both tours on the same day, then I’d recommend taking the tube or a bus, as for us – it was quite long walk – save the walking for the tour. Or that you may want to book it on a different day.
Of course, if you are feeling brave like us, then I say – Go for it! You won’t be disappointed I am certain of that. You are in good hands with Overome.
Without doubt, the day has been a long one, but it was an incredible one. We’ve learnt so much in just one day and we just can’t resists ending our day with a second gelato of the day too!
Here is our little video to sum up our afternoon with Overome.
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*We were given press passes to the BEST OF ROME FOR KIDS & FAMILIES TOUR with Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain PRIVATE experience. All photos, words are honest and of my own.
Via Emanuele Pessagno 11
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Tour fees: $315.00 up to 4 people