I love how Rome is literally overflowing with history, and you can’t get away from it, it hits you the second you step out of the airport, layer upon layer. Several movies have also left their mark on the city, perhaps most famously of all, Roman Holiday.
1. Roman Holiday. Joe’s Apartment.
Just as Midnight in Paris lures me to Paris every time, this movie makes it impossible for me to stay away from Rome. It’s one of my absolute favourite movies. While there are so many well known Rome landmarks featured in this movie, my favourite Roman Holiday spot is a quiet little street: Via Margutta. It is here where Gregory Peck’s character, Joe lives, and it’s really a beautiful street, full of antique shops and boutiques, with foliage hanging from every building.
From Piazza del Popolo, walk down Via del Babuino (one of the three main roads leading to the piazza), and after about five minutes, turn down Via dell’Orto di Napoli, which will lead directly to Via Margutta. From there, turn left, and you will find number 51 on your right. The building has been covered in scaffolding for a while, which is a shame, but hopefully that means that it won’t be there for much longer, and you can still see the apartment building despite it.
This street also features as a nod to this great film in Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love (number 10/11 in this list).
2. Roman Holiday. Haircut.
One of the most iconic scenes in the movie is when Hepburn spontaneously decides to have her long hair cut to a pixie cut – though they used tight curls so that she wouldn’t have to cut it quite that short. Though the hair salon that they used is long gone, the shop that housed it can still be found on Via della Stamperia, alongside the Trevi fountain, though now days it seems to be a leather shop.
Finding Via della Stamperia 85 couldn’t be easier. It can be found to the left of Trevi Fountain.
3. Angels and Demons. Burning Church.
It’s not easy to get a good look at this church in this scene of Angels and Demons, seeing as it features a burning priest, but no matter, they mention the church by name. Most people visit Santa Maria della Vittoria to see Bernini’s sculpture, the Ecstasy of St Teresa, including me, so I’d definitely recommend adding i to your itinerary anyway.
From Rome’s main Termini station, cross over Rome’s bus station, which is immediately outside the train station, cross the road and walk down Viale Luigi Einaudi. Pass the church, Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri on your right, and pass over Piazza della Repubblica, walking down Via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando. You will find Santa Maria della Vittoria on your right, on the corner of Via XX Settembre.
4. Eat Pray Love. Liz’s Italian Home.
While I think it’s unfair that Eat Pray Love chose to depict Rome as a city of rationed water and bitchy land ladies, they did well in choosing their locations. In the book, Liz stays in the backstreets of the Spanish Steps, in a similar area to Via Margutta, while in the film, they chose instead to find her an apartment just north of Piazza Navona, in Via dei Portoghesi. Beneath the apartment building, you will find the same barber shop as in the movie, though they complete revamped the interior to give it a more old-timey feel.
To see her apartment for yourself, begin at Piazza Navona. Take the north facing street at the top of the square, Via Agonale. This will bring you to Piazza della Cinque Lune. Cross the road and turn right at the top of the square, Via dei Pianellari. Follow the road to the left, and it will bring you out at Via dei Portoghesi. The barber shop will be within the doorway at your immediate left, and right next to that, Liz’s apartment is through the larger, grander doorway.
5. Eat Pray Love. Italian Restaurant.
Obviously, a big part of the movie is about eating, and I don’t know how many cafes and restaurants feature in the film. The one I’ll mention, though, is Ristorante Santa Lucia on Largo Febo. I can vouch for the food here – it’s delicious. It’s also a great place for some celebrity spotting – their website even has a page dedicated to the celebrities who have crossed their threshold, which includes Sofia Loren, Meryl Streep and Rupert Everett.
Largo Febo can be found just off Piazza Navona; just take the street to the left, at the top of the square, Via dei Lorensi, and you will find the restaurant to your right, surrounded by trees and foliage to allow diners – and celebrites – some privacy.
6. Only You. Romance.
This movie must be about twenty years old now – look at how young Robert Downey Jr. is! It’s been years since I have watched this movie, but I do remember the scene that takes place in Santa Maria in Trastevere. This is a spot that I frequent often when I’m in Rome, mostly because of the number of English bookshops that surround it. It’s a beautiful square, which acts like the heart of a village.
Trastevere lies on the western side of the Tiber. Crossing Ponte Garibaldi, cross through Largo san Giovanni de Matha and walk down Via della Lungaretta, which will lead to Piazza di Santa Maria and therefore Santa Maria in Trastevere.
Alternatively, cross Ponte Sisto, and take the side side street to the left of Piazza Trilussa, which leads to Via Benedetta. The street curves to the left, and then take an immediate right into Vicolo de Cinque. When Vicolo de Cinque merges with Vicolo del Bologna, cross at the crossroads into Piazza di Sant’Egidio, and take a left, walking briefly along Via della Piagia, which will bring you to Piazza di Santa Maria.
7. Only You. Mouth of Truth.
The Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth) features more famously in Roman Holiday, but I thought I’d give another movie a mention instead. Only You basically imitates the more famous scene perfectly. While the mouth of truth is open to the public, you can’t just wander up to it quite as you once could – expect queues, and a guarded donation box. While it is a ‘donation’, it’s pretty much expected that you pay to see the attraction, that by that, I mean about 50 cents, so it’s hardly breaking the bank. Also, the guard is very vigilant about allowing one photo per person. A word of advice, while they do allow every member of a group of friends to have their photograph taken individually, if you’re going to want a group photo, settle for a group photo only, rather than individual shots and an extra group photo – it won’t be allowed, and they do get quite pushy to prevent you from even trying.
8. Bicycle Thieves. Sunday market.
The main and most well known flea market in Rome. I love wandering around looking for antiques and hidden gems. I recommend an early start if you plan to shop at this market, as the best things are snatched up quickly by other early risers, and sometimes by the end of the day the stalls can be looking quite scarce.
To find the Porta Portese, cross the Ponte Sublicio onto the eastern side of the Tiber, and follow the road immediately in front of you; Via di Porta Portese. Alternatively, if you are staying more in the region of Piazza Navona and the touristic centre of Rome, cross over Ponte Garibaldi, and walk down Viale Trastevere for about ten minutes. Turn left into Via Gerolamo Induno, which, after a few minutes, becomes Via di Porta Portese.
9. La Dolce Vita. Meet Cute.
Perhaps I was wrong in saying that Roman Holiday is the most well known movie set in Rome. Perhaps the title of best-known Roman-set movie ties equally with La Dolce Vita. Then again, I think it’s fairest to say that in English-speaking countries, while most of us have heard of La Dolce Vita, how many have actually seen it? It is in Via Vittorio Veneto that Marcello first meats the glamorous actress, Sylvia. While the movie definitely helped, Via Vittorio Veneto is, in it’s own right, one of the most famous streets in Rome, for it’s elegance, wealth, and ability to attract celebrities like Audrey Hepburn, Orson Welles, Coco Chanel and Tennessee Williams to its exclusive bars and restaurants. Even today, cafe’s and hotels such as Harry’s Bar, Regina Hotel Baglioni and Cafe de Paris still attract celebrity attention.
From Termini train station, walk through the bus station, cross the road and walk down Viale Luigi Einaudi. Cross over Piazza della Repubblica, and walk down Via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando. After about five minutes, the road will split into three – take the middle one, Via Leonida Bissolati. After another five minutes, the road will cross with Via Vittorio Veneto.
10. To Rome with Love. Jack’s House.
Not the best Woody Allen’s film, but great for admiring Rome. As I mentioned briefly before, Via Margetta features in this film – Alec Baldwin’s character can be seen walking down the street as a nod from Woody Allen to Roman Holiday. His character, John, then meets Jesse Eisenberg’s character, Jack, who happens to live in his old apartment in Via dei Neofiti. Though I’d love to know how an architect student can afford to live with just his girlfriend in an apartment that is a ten minute walk from the Colosseum.
From the Colosseum, walk towards the Colosseo metro stop. Climb the steps to the road above – Via Nicola Salvi. Directly opposite, the road splits into three – take the central, low-lying road, Via degli Annibaldi. After about five minutes, turn left into Via della Madonna dei Monti, and then take a right into Via dei Neofiti. You will find Jack/John’s apartment about halfway down the short street.
11. To Rome with Love. Garden Party.
Personally, I feel that Penelope Cruz is the star of this movie, acting as a prostitute who has to pretend – half-heartedly – to play her accidental client’s new wife in front of his family. How that pans out in the long run, I can only imagine. Surely he can’t hide his wife from his family for the rest of their lives? Their deception takes place at Villa Quintili on the famous Via Appia Antica road and parkland.
The Via Appia Antica is a common day trip for tourists in Rome, and the Villa Quintili, which now days can be hired for events, can be found just over 8km from central Rome. Due to it’s age, parts of the roman road is closed off to cars, there are several buses that make accessing the road easy. The hop-on, hop-off Archeobus will also pass by the Via Appia Antica
Each bus will drop you off on a different part of the road, and as it’s a very long road, I’d take a moment to find out exactly where you wish to be, and so which bus is best for you. To reach Villa Quintili specifically, take the metro from Termini to Anagnina, which takes about 10 minutes. From the Anagnina bus stop, take bus 765 towards Agricoltura, which takes about 30 minutes. Get off at Erode Attico- Appia Antica, and from there, continue down that same road for another two minutes on foot, and turn left at the crossroads, onto Via Appia Antica. After about ten minutes, you will reach. Villa Quintili. If you prefer to drive, there are car parks around the parkland.
12. My Own Private Idaho. Trip to Rome.
While most of this movie is, surprise, surprise, set in the western states of America, when they go to Rome, they chose a great location, with a great view of the Colosseum. This spot is right next to the Colosseum, and yet most tourists prefer to just follow the pavement rather than wandering into the park! Parco del Celio is a great way to get away from the crowds without giving up the view.
Via Celio Vibenna sits at the southern side of Piazza del Colosseo. From the Colosseo metro stop, cross over the Piazza to the other side of the U-shaped road that surrounds the Colosseum. A high wall encloses the park, but you can find various entrances after a few minutes of circling the wall.
13. The Belly of an Architect. Picnic.
I’ve always loved the picnic scene in this movie, and for ages, I presumed that they had either used an off-limits location that the public would never see, or a set that had been build specifically. Nope – Villa Adriana is a day trip from central Rome, being just 30km from the city. Villa Adriana, otherwise known as Hadrian’s Villa, sits just outside of Tivoli, a popular day trip location, and so can be incorporated into a Tivoli itinerary.
From Ponte Mammolo metro station, catch the Cotral bus (which run roughly every 15 minutes and take 1 hour) towards Tivoli. Get off at the Villa Adriana bus stop. There is a tariff fee to enter the Villa, so be sure to check its website first.
14. The Belly of an Architect. Police Station.
Finally, I could not not include this scene, just because of the wow-factor of the chunks of statue in the background. Like with the picnic scene, I presumed that they had been specifically placed there for creative effect, but, apart from some artistic rearranging, that is as you will see them for yourself. These amazing statue pieces can be found at Palazzo dei Conservatori, which is the Museum of art and sculpture (I would say ‘obviously’, except that I think Rome is one of those few cities that can have random bits of statue lying around in the city squares without there being a museum nearby), at Piazza del Campidoglio. The Palazzo and Piazza sit in the same area as the Colosseum, Roman Forum and around the back of the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele.
From the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele, follow the road to the right of the monument; Via del Teatro di Marcello, and take an immediate left as you pass around the back of the monument, into the piazza. You will find the statues inside the courtyard of Museo Capitolini (the 21st century use for Palazzo dei Conservatori), on your right.
Alternatively, from the Colosseum, walk down Via dei Fori Imperiali, towards the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele. Before you reach the monument, turn up the street that crosses behind it; Via di San Pietro in Carcere, and follow the road around to the right. It will bring you to Piazza del Campidoglio.