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Rome Tip: Find the best (free!) people watching in town

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Head to the Spanish Steps for some good, free!, people watching. Photo by Sav D'Souza
Head to the Spanish Steps for some good, free!, people watching. Photo by Sav D'Souza

By Sav D’Souza in Rome—Whether it’s dining al fresco, taking in the ancient sights, or paying a visit to one of the many piazzas, Rome offers lots of perfect places to indulge in the pleasure of people watching. The best part? Taking in a passerby or two is free and open to everyone. Just keep those shades on, unless you want to get caught!

Here are four of my favorite spots for people watching in Rome.


The Spanish Steps

Taking its name because of the Spanish ambassador who once lived here, the steps leading up from Piazza di Spagna to the Trinita dei Monti church are ideal for taking a rest after a day’s shopping in the nearand all those fabulous tourists and Romans—go by.

Piazza Trilussa

Just over the Ponte Sisto bridge in Trastevere is Piazza Trilussa. This is a lively piazza full of young Romans who congregate till the early hours. On any given evening you could witness anything from an impromptu guitar concert, locals crooning old Calabrian tunes from a bygone era, or see some breakout flamenco dancing. Keep an eye out for the regular, and very amusing exploits, of Indian magician “Guarda”. Cheapo tip: There’s a small ice cream parlor just off Piazza v.Pallotti where you can grab a few cold bottles of beer for just €1.50 before heading for the piazza.

Campo de’Fiori

With a host of fun restaurants and wines bars circling the piazza, this is another ideal spot for watching Romans in their natural environment. Come late into the evening and the place has a more lively frenetic energy to it which can border on the chaotic. On occasion, it’s not for the fainthearted. Cheapo tip: Head for La Vineria (Campo de’ Fiori, 15) for a perfect ringside seat and great, inexpensive wine by the glass.

Isola Tiberina

At sundown, the Tiber Island is a fantastic place for an easy stroll and a good bout of people watching. It’s a wonderfully relaxed and laid back environment. There’s an outdoor cinema,  and loads of vendors selling all manner of delicious foods.  Choose from all manner of bars, grab a drink, and then pop a squat on a cozy sofa—or in the case of one bar—a bed! It’s accessible from Ponte Fabricio. Cheapo tip: The cocktails around here can be on the expensive side. Buy a couple of bottles at a local shop beforehand.

About the author

About the author: Sav D’Souza is a freelance journalist currently based in Rome. He has worked as a journalist in Hawaii, Prague, and London and contributed features to the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, SA Sports Illustrated, Prague Post and CNBC Europe. He is a demon pool player, enjoys a round of golf, playing poker, and the occasional gin and tonic.

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2 Responses to “Rome Tip: Find the best (free!) people watching in town”

Tod Iseminger says:

How about Piazza Novona? Not as crowded as Campo de’Fiori and the same number of restaurants, lots of artists and musicians. What about plaza area around The Pantheon?

Choose from all manner of bars, grab a drink, and then pop a squat on a cozy sofa—or in the case of one bar—a bed! It’s accessible from Ponte Fabricio. Cheapo tip: The cocktails around here can be on the expensive side. Buy a couple of bottles at a local shop beforehand.

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