If visiting churches in Rome was obligatory, then visiting the piazzas was unavoidable.
Not that you'd want to avoid them even if you could. Piazzas in Rome are basically public squares, generally centered around a fountain, monument or church. They come in all shapes and sizes and often have a restaurant or two (and many, many more at the largest piazzas) along the edges, with lots of outdoor seating and menus in about a dozen languages.
|Campo de' Fiori|
Rome certainly doesn't have a monopoly on large city squares -- Marienplatz in Munich, Germany, comes to mind, let alone New York's own Times Square -- but Rome takes it to a whole new level. This is true not only in sheer numbers, but also in their atmosphere.
During the daytime they're lively and crowded. At night the number of people only seems to grow, but that just adds to the energy, the spark of the city. No need to sit down at one of the touristy restaurants -- just grab a seat on the pedestal of a statue, preferably with a 2 euro scoop of gelato in your hand, and people-watch the night away.
|Piazza del Popolo|
Night really was when the city came alive. I suspect this is because of the high daytime temperatures, but having visited the city for only four days, I'm hardly in a position to say for sure. In any case, the evenings were pleasant and definitely when sightseeing was most enjoyable. In fact, we saw Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps only at night, unless you count a distant view of the latter in the late afternoon of our final full day there.
And before you ask, yes, of course we each threw a coin into Trevi Fountain. We will return.
|Crowds at Trevi Fountain|