by Lilit Marcus, Condé Nast Traveler
Jewelry brand Bulgari is chipping in on the renovations, which will continue into spring 2016.
If you're headed to Rome soon, there's one major attraction you might not be able to visit--the Spanish Steps. The iconic stairs, where Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck famously enjoyed ice cream in Roman Holiday, are undergoing a makeover courtesy of the Italian luxury jewelry brand Bulgari. The repairs began this week and will continue through spring 2016, although portions of the steps will be open in December for the Catholic Holy Year of Mercy festivities in the Vatican, as many tourists will pass through the area on their way.
The Spanish Steps were last restored in 1995, and Roman officials cited heavy tourist foot traffic as a reason for their deterioration--lots of shoes, spills, and selfies have all contributed to the need for upgrades. There are also invasive plants who keep trying to push their way through the steps, resulting in cracks.
The Piazza di Spagna stairs have remained a big hit with tourists year after year and were the single most photographed attraction in all of Italy in a 2014 study by Google's Panaramio tool, which can track geographic information on photos uploaded and shared via their service. Still, though, there are plenty of other photogenic sites in the Eternal City, from the Trevi Fountainto Saint Peter's Basilica. And you can use the closure of the Spanish Steps as an excuse to explore some off-the-beaten-path places in Rome, from hidden millefoglie spots to the emerging neighborhood of Testaccio.
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