The Spanish Steps are a can't-miss attraction in Rome.
My daughter explained this repeatedly to her seventeen-year-old brother this summer as we walked the narrow streets of the old city, farther and farther from our hotel. Only the promise of gelato kept his grumbling at a manageable level. That and his inability to find his way back on his own.
Finally, we arrived at the Piazza di Spagna, which was lit up to give an excellent view of the one hundred thirty eight steps named after the Spanish embassy still located in the piazza.
My son gaped at the sight.
"This is without a doubt," he said, "the stupidest famous thing I've ever seen. It's a staircase!"
Below that long, wide staircase was a beautiful fountain. On that staircase sat hundreds of people being serenaded in Spanish by three young men dressed as troubadours. Many in the impromptu audience were drinking wine.
My daughter, who'd just finished a summer semester in Spain that fueled her with wanderlust, took off for the top of the steps. My son and I took a seat. We were immediately approached by a young man trying to press a rose into my hand. I knew he'd demand payment so I refused to take it. He thrust out his lower lip in a truly hilarious pout.
The troubadours headed up the steps, weaving their way through the crowds, playing their guitars and singing with infectious energy. Soon my son was smiling along with every one else in the crowd.
"Well?" I asked him when we left. "What did you think?"
"I already told you," he said. "It was just a bunch of steps."
Oh, but what steps.
So here's my question: What's the stupidest famous thing you've ever seen?
Darlene Gardner, author of THE SECRET SIN, third in the Return to Indigo Springs series from Harlequin Superromance