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Roman Holiday, a movie that made the History of Cinema

About Rome


It is 1953, Roman Holiday is about to become part of film history.

A beautiful and young Princess tired of the responsibility that her role asks takes a sudden decision that will make her travel around Europe: London, Amsterdam, Paris and lastly, Rome: “ The eternal city” as the radiophonic speaker announces in the movie.

A stunning St.Peter’s Square becomes immediately the protagonist of the scene; this is the heart of the Vatican State. Not everyone knows that at the time of the Roman Empire, right on this point stood the famous Nerone’s circus, longer than half a kilometer, thousands of Christians were executed here under the order of the Emperor. Afterward, the entire area was abandoned and used to build graves.

St. Peter was buried here after being executed in Nerone’s Circus. In 1656 Gian Lorenzo Bernini began to work on the most famous colonnade in the world, the Colonnade of St Peter’s Square. Millions of people came here every year attracted by the famous optical effect of this artwork. In fact, there is a tile on the floor of the square from which it is possible to see that the columns seem to be all in the same row. This is of course a visual effect that is well worth seeing, with all the other wonders that this amazing square offers.

st. peters square

The second scene in which the city of Rome is at the center of attention takes place in Via dei Fori Imperiali. Here the young Princess assists in an Honor Parade. This street is considered one of the most important streets of Rome. Caesar, Augustus, Nerva and Trajan’s Forums have inspired the name of the street, built on the orders of Benito Mussolini in 1932 to connect the Colosseum to his balcony in Venice Square and to allow the progress of the Parades.

Next, comes one of the most famous scenes in the movie. Princess Anna escapes from Palazzo Barberini, in the middle of the night, a literal but also figurative escape from the clichés and her regal businesses.

Palazzo Barberini, built between 1625 and 1633, is considered the first Baroque Palace ever built in Rome. Maderno, Borromini, Bernini and Pietro da Cortona, were all involved in the construction that soon became one of the most important buildings in Rome.

Finally, the real Roman Holiday starts, right in the moment in which the young Princess gets off the catering van. An amazing scene where the stunning Piazza della Repubblica is the background, probably one of the most beautiful squares of Rome. At the center of Piazza della Repubblica (Ex Piazza Esedra) there’s the famous Fontana delle Naiadi, constructed in 1901.

Who doesn’t dream about a love story like that of Anna and Joe? Well, you will be pleased to know that their first meeting was right at the Arch of Settimio Severo, in the Roman Forum. Joe at the beginning confuses Anna with a drunk woman in the middle of a hangover not knowing instead, that Princess Anna is under the effect of a sedative. The construction of the Arch of Settimio Severo dates back to 202 AD. It was constructed to celebrate the first 10 years of his empire. The reliefs that are above the Arch refer to the Emperor’s military victories in Partia (Iran and Iraq today) and in Arabia.

Soon after their meeting, the journalist Joe decides to take the Princess to his house, a little and characteristic apartment in the center of Rome, precisely in Via Margutta 51. This street, originally, was the back of the Via del Babuino buildings, where carriages and carts were parked. Subsequently, the street became a totally fashionable place where important art galleries and famous restaurants are situated today.

It is in the streets around the Trevi Fountain that the beautiful Princess discovers normal life, the everyday life of ‘regular’ citizens. Here Anna decides to close with her past. She buys herself a pair of shoes and cuts off her hair in a barber shop. Rome is full of beautiful and stunning fountains but the most famous and the most visited is the Trevi Fountain. This is the biggest fountain in Rome, with its Baroque style that represents the God of the sea, Neptune, whilst he is busy dominating the waters. The legend behind this work of art says that those who flip a coin with their right hand in the Trevi Fountain will be sure to come back to Rome. Those who do so twice will find love and those who do so three times, will of course get married. We can’t know if this is true or not, so the advice that we give you is to go to this amazing attraction and try it yourself- you can let us know if it comes true!

Anna is seated on the Spanish steps in Piazza di Spagna enjoying her ice cream, when Joe pretends to meet her casually, after having followed her the entire morning. Here the two start talking and the beautiful Princess confesses to having a secret desire - she wants to do, at least once in her life, everything that in her ‘royal life’ is prohibited. Joe, thinking about how to grant her wish, offers her to extend her holiday.

Piazza di Spagna, designed by Alessandro Specchi and Francesco de Sanctis, was finished in 1725. This Square is named after the Spanish Embassy situated right there. This awesome square is full of important monuments, Fontana della Barcaccia, English poet John Keat’s home (today a museum) Palazzo della Propaganda Fide and the Column of the Immaculate Conception. But the most famous attraction, that hoards of people come to visit every day, are the “Spanish Steps”, in Italian, “le scalinate” della Trinità dei Monti, realized between 1723 and 1726 and designed by the Roman Architect Francesco De Sanctis.

When we think about this movie, probably the first scene that comes to our minds is the Vespa scene. The iconic Vespa ride that made us all dream of having a similar experience, especially in the moment in which the Colosseum is the background. This is a stunning view that is worth seeing at least once in life. The Colosseum, is not only the symbol of the city but is also one of the most famous monuments in the world, was started by Vespasiano but finished by Tito in 80 AD and opened to the public with a special inauguration 100 days long. It was constructed to give Rome a place worthy of its famous Gladiators Games.

During the duration of the Roman Empire the Colosseum was restored on various occasions because of the many fires and earthquakes that hit it over the years. The history behind this work of architectural splendor is absolutely fascinating and well-worth learning about. There are so many curious facts to know about it that will make you for sure want to visit- if you don’t already!

--> Book a private Tour of Colosseum and Ancient Rome

Mouth of truth

Have you ever heard about the “Mouth of Truth” and the legend behind it? It narrates that whoever puts their hand inside the mouth and doesn’t speak the truth, will have their hand devoured in a second. It is right at this monument that Princess hears the story and she decides to try. When it comes to Joe’s turn he fakes that his hand has been devoured by the monster, scaring Anna, who understands soon after it was a joke. Do you believe in legends? Have you ever tried to put your hand inside the monster’s mouth at the Mouth of Truth? What are you waiting for?!

Speaking of legends, the legendary movie ‘Roman Holiday’ is almost at its end, when an addictive scene captures the attention. Anna and Joe are happily dancing on a boat on the Tiber River, right under Ponte Sant’Angelo (St Angelo’s Bridge), when suddenly a group of secret agents arrives to try to get Princess back to the Palace and so to her regal but sad life that she has lived for many years. A fight starts and Joe saves Princess, escaping by swimming to Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II (Bridge of Victor of Emanuel II). It is right here that the two share their first kiss, one of the most suggestive scenes in the movie, and in the entire history of Cinema.

We are now at the end of this amazing film. The last scene takes place at Palazzo Colonna (Colonna Palace), home to one of the biggest private palaces in Rome. Its construction began in the 12th century, commissioned by the Colonna family, who has been living in the palace for 8 centuries now. Here a press conference orchestrates the meeting between the Princess and the Journalists. Princess receives from Irving all the photos of her Roman Holiday, treasured memories. The moment to say goodbye to Joe has arrived, and she does it with a simple and silent smile.

A love story that merits being fully understood, and definitely a movie that is worth seeing. It is also worth a visit to all the attractions that appear in the ‘Roman Holiday,’ that together make the city of Rome, the Ancient capital of the world, a destination that deserves to be seen and loved, Rome. 

If you want to be the protagonist of your personal "roman holiday" contact us and book a private guide in the city. 

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