Discover la Dolce Vita: a little guide to Rome for cinephiles

Discover la Dolce Vita: a little guide to Rome for cinephiles

Rome, the Eternal City, has been the perfect set for unforgettable films. The majestic architecture and history of this city provide unique atmospheres. Moreover, the Capital of Italy is home to the largest film and television studio complex in the country. Masterpieces of Italian and world cinema have been shot in Rome: ranging from the most important films of Italian neorealism, to the great Hollywood classics such as “Roman Holiday.” Let’s discover together the Rome portrayed by great cinema, see which locations to visit to experience la dolce vita, strolling through the streets of the Capital.


Rome, Open City (1945)

Roma città aperta” (Rome, Open City) is a 1945 film shot by Roberto Rossellini. This film is considered one of the masterpieces of Italian neorealist cinema. The film recounts the drama of World War II, giving us one of the most famous performances in the history of Italian cinema. Anna Magnani is one of the undisputed stars of the film, accompanied by other unforgettable performers such as Aldo Fabrizi. The most famous scene in the film is that of the desperate race and murder of Pina, played by Anna Magnani herself. The scene, one of the symbolic sequences of neorealism, was shot in via Raimondo Montecuccoli, in Pigneto, an urban area of the Prenestino-Labicano district. At the time of the war, Pigneto was a working-class suburb; today, however, it is the neighborhood of the movida, of artists and creative people, a perfect place for an aperitif among alternative clubs and vintage stores.


Roman Holiday (1953)

Roman Holiday” is a great classic of Hollywood cinema that never stops making people dream. Directed by William Wyler, the film stars Gregory Peck and an unforgettable Audrey Hepburn. We find a princess who decides to sneak away to explore the Eternal City on her own. However, she will meet American journalist Joe Bradley and begin a unique adventure. The film gave great popularity to Audrey Hepburn, as well as to the Piaggio Vespa, the vehicle by which the protagonists travel through the city streets, even passing in front of the Colosseum. “Roman Holiday” brings to the screen some of the most spectacular places in the historic center of Rome: Palazzo Barberini, Castel Sant’Angelo, the Spanish Steps, the Spanish Steps of Trinità dei Monti, Via Margutta, the Imperial Forums, and many more. Also very famous is the scene in which the journalist leads the princess in front of the Mouth of Truth. During the filming Gregory Peck pretends that the Mouth has devoured his hand. The scene was not in the script, so Audrey Hepburn’s frightened reaction is spontaneous.


La Dolce Vita (1960)

La dolce vita” is a classic of Italian auteur cinema. Directed by Federico Fellini, the film was released in theaters in 1960. Nominated for four Academy Awards, this film has become a symbol of Italy in the world.La dolce vita” depicts the social life of post-war Rome, with its glories, lights and shadows. Everyone knows the iconic scene in which actress Anita Ekberg bathes in the Trevi Fountain, exclaiming enthusiastically to Marcello Mastroianni, “Marcello, come here!” The story goes that this scene was shot in winter and that for Marcello Mastroianni the cold was unbearable, so much so that he had to wear a wetsuit under his clothes. Sweden’s Anita Ekberg, on the other hand, was in no way intimidated by the Roman winter. In addition to the Trevi Fountain, in the film we also find via Vittorio Veneto with its hotels, bars, and restaurants. Someone referred to Via Veneto as “the theater of La Dolce Vita.” Today things have changed, many of the establishments on the street are no longer open, however, a walk down Via Veneto is always suggestive for those nostalgic for the dolce vita.


The Great Beauty (2013)

“The Great Beauty” is a recently released film, but it is already considered a classic. Directed by Paolo Sorrentino, this film has been highly acclaimed worldwide, winning an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and many other international awards. The film portrays an eternal, majestic, magical and sublime Rome, set against the vulgarity and cynicism of a disillusioned and callous humanity. The protagonist, Jep Gambardella, played by Toni Servillo, strolls the streets of central Rome at all hours of the day and night. He is invited into the palaces of the city’s noble families, showing viewers breathtaking works of art and some of the greatest masterpieces of Roman architecture. The film’s opening scene shows us the beautiful Acqua Paola Fountain on the terrace of the Janiculum Hill. In the film we also find the Tempietto del Bramante, Palazzo Braschi, Palazzo Spada, Palazzo Taverna, Piazza Navona and many other beautiful Capitoline locations.


Dear Diary (1993)

Nanni Moretti’s “Caro Diario” is a film that takes us to explore another side of Rome. This film, released in theaters in 1993 and awarded a Palme d’Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival, is divided into three episodes. The first episode, titled “In Vespa“, is set in the neighborhoods of a semi-deserted summer Rome. The director shares his personal reflections, visiting different Roman neighborhoods and showing viewers their architectural differences. Nanni Moretti travels through areas such as the Garbatella neighborhood, the Janiculum and Lungotevere, the Olympic Village, Tufello, Vigne Nuove and Monteverde, until he arrives at Idroscalo di Ostia, a place famous for the murder of intellectual, writer and director Pierpaolo Pasolini.


The audio guide of Rome

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Photo Credits:
Photo by Augusto Di Giovanni – prop shot for Wikimedia