On entering the piazza, one is immediately taken aback by such elegance: the yellow, brownish ochre-coloured buildings, Bernini’s fountain and the celebrated Spanish Steps rising up towards the Church of SS. Trinità dei Monti, all helping to create a refined, eighteenth century atmosphere. It is therefore no coincidence that high-fashion brands, such as Gucci, Bulgari and Valentino, all have show-piece shops just off the piazza. Home to English poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley, the world-famous piazza, located at the foot of the Pincio Hill, has always been considered both a priceless cultural gem as well as popular tourist attraction.
During the fifteenth century it assumed a very important commercial role for the presence of many hotels and residences inhabited by foreigners, recalled in this area by representatives of the Spanish and French governments.
The Staircase of Trinità dei Monti (1723-26) was built under the pontificate of Innocent XIII and the direction of the Roman architect Francesco De Santis: a scenographic link between the slopes of the Pincio dominated by the church of the SS. Trinità and the Piazza di Spagna below was built along the slope of the Pincio from the church of the SS. Trinità and the Piazza di Spagna below, to be the meeting place for all citizens. Even today, the staircase is a place where people meet, so much so that it is called the "living room of Rome".
On the top of the staircase is the church of SS. Trinità dei Monti, founded in 1495, while in the center of the square stands the fountain called the "Barcaccia" (1626-29) by Pietro Bernini, father of Gian Lorenzo.
The fountain has the shape of a boat with an identical bow and stern and is immersed in an oval pool. The edges of the sides are very low, giving the impression that the boat is about to sink.
On the outside of the bow and stern are two large coats of arms belonging to Urban VIII Barberini with the three bees, emblem of his family; on the sides of the coats of arms, the water comes out from fake cannon mouths. The term "barcaccia" refers to the boats used on the Tiber in the nearby port of Ripetta. Other inspiring reasons for the fountain are to be found, probably, in the news, according to which there existed in the area a naumachia (an open-air building where naval games and battles with miniature warships were played), and in the Tiber floods, which dragged the boats to the feet of the Trinità de 'Monti.