I have never been able to figure out the appeal of this place. My wife says it is because there are no places to sit in Rome. For some reason it is a must-see for tourists.
Certainly it draws a lot of people. Sitting on the Spanish Steps, you can get a good view of the comings and goings of the people below you. And they all do indeed seem to be part of tour groups. Those are easy to spot – not only do they move as a herd, but each has its own flag-bearer at the front, something for people to focus on so they don’t get separated from the group.
There’s a police presence too, I kept hearing the whistles blow, the police functioning somewhat like a pool lifeguard to enforce the rules. Not that I saw any rules posted, but I gather you aren’t allowed to eat while siting on the steps. I’m sure they don’t tell you that in any of the nearby fast-food chain stores. Given that it is a public street, most people probably don’t know the whistles are directed at them.
So I’ve done my duty, I’ve seen the sight, I can cross it off my bucket list. Truth is, it wasn’t on my bucket list and I saw the stairs in 2009, though I don’t remember if I took any pictures.
Not high on my list of places to visit in Rome, but I will admit it is a good place if you like to watch people.