The monumental. Rome, the grandest of Italian hill towns, has an abundance of stairs unequaled anywhere in the world. A complicated topography, and a populace with an insatiable appetite for pomp, spurred architects to devise panoramic staircases for social and mercantile activities.
The Piranese engraving above portrays the busy Ripetta, the old harbor on the Tiber., built at the beginning of the eighteenth century to the plans of Alessandro Specci. Unfortunately the stagelike setting has long since been sacrificed to regulation of the river.
The Scala di Spagna, below, is far more than a stairway in the accepted sense of the word. It is a civic forum, a salone, a promenade., and only incidentally a passage from the Piazza di Spagna to the church of SS. Trinita dei Monti. It is so ingeniously designed that few people remark on its asymetry. The runs and landings, two rather inappropriate terms for these cascades of steps, are world apart from our moving carpets and escalators intended to transport inert humans like so many parcels on a conveyer belt.
Like many another Roman landmark, the Piazza del Campidoglio is a walk-up. Access to this fine Renaissance square and its buildings is provided by five staircases some climbing from the street level and some descending from neighboring heights.