Roman Holiday; La Dolce Vita; To Rome with Love. Notice a pattern? Rome has been the backdrop to plenty of international films since the 1950s, but it often becomes the accidental star of the show and continues to lure tourists who can’t wait to recreate the scenes for themselves.
You only have to head to the Trevi Fountain or the Bocca Della Verita and wait for the crowds of devotees to form (and don’t deny that you want to join in with them), looking to channel Anita Ekberg and Audrey Hepburn. 19th July saw the re-release of Roman Holiday at cinemas across the UK, making this the perfect time to indulge in a tour of the streets that made their way onto the screen.
Being quite partial to a culture-inspired trip myself, I created an interactive map with lowcostholidays.com, Rome on Film, which allows viewers to step into the locations of their favourite scenes shot in the city. Whilst I’ll admit that there are many walking tours covering particular movies, such as the Eat Pray Love tour, there has never been a comprehensive map produced which shows you each blockbuster in its own right and then puts them all together so you can work out where the hell you’re meant to be going. I’m all for creating suspense, but sometimes it’s good to actually plan your pilgrimage sites, right?
This also means that you can skip anything you’re not interested in, or do a nice cross-genre mash-up and tick off a bit of the romantic comedy Three Coins in the Fountain in the Tivoli Gardens before getting dark and mysterious over The Talented Mr. Ripley at Gucci on the Via Condotti and then mix the two films at their combined location, the Colosseum. Before you know it, you’re leaping into the strange world of Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love across the river in Trastevere – no popcorn needed.
Once you’re actually in the city, you’ll see how easy it is to piece all those backdrops together. For example, the palazzo where Audrey Hepburn filmed scenes as Princess Ann was actually right by my hotel. It was then only a short walk down the road until I reached the Piazza di Spagna and could walk down the steps to see where Matt Damon orchestrated a brilliant double meeting, both as his own character (Tom Ripley) but also posing as his friend, Dickie Greenleaf. Seriously, watch the film and you’ll see what I mean.
Further out, the Terme di Caracalla can be seen when you’re heading in from the airport, but it’s worth going back to see how vast the network of Roman baths is here – I visited as part of my Vespa tour. At their peak, the baths housed thousands of people at one time, like some sort of supercharged spa for the masses. It was also the setting for Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni’s drunken dancing before they headed back into the city centre and filmed that fountain scene.
Yes, I am unashamedly biased because I designed and researched the map, but I couldn’t help sharing it with you. I properly geeked out (yes, that’s the journalistic term) when compiling the trivia for each pin on the grid and I hope that it’s paid off with the final result.
Next time I’m in Rome, I plan to top off my research with a trip to Cinecittà Studios, just a hop on the Metro from the city centre, where the legacy of Italian cinema continues… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I hope you like the map and that it helps you get to know Rome in a new way.