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Rome On Celluloid

The Eternal City is also a city of celluloid. From Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn’s Vespa ride, to Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni’s dip in the Fontana di Trevi, Rome has been the backdrop of some of the most iconic sequences in cinema history. We embark on a celluloid tour of the capital of Italy while recalling the best movies that featured Rome as one of their protagonists.

To Rome With Love (Woody Allen, 2012)

Woody Allen stands out as one of the filmmakers who has most successfully captured the essence of New York. However, in recent years, the indispensable American director went on a pilgrimage that led him to film in London, Barcelona, Paris and Rome. One of the most outstanding movies from his European tour, To Rome With Love, revolves around Monti, a district of Rome which shook off its unsavoury past and became one of the liveliest areas in the city. The film also captures the beauty of other spots, notably the Via dei Neofiti, the Piazza della Madonna dei Monti and the popular Bottega del Caffè.

Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio de Sica, 1948)

A masterpiece of Italian Neorealism, a style which in the first half of the 20th century yielded some of the milestones in cinema history through its stark portrayal of mundane, everyday life. Lamberto Maggiorani, an unemployed construction worker and untrained newcomer to acting, breathes life into the character of Antonio Ricci, who has his bicycle stolen during his first day’s work posting advertising bills. While chasing the thief, Lamberto runs through the popular quarters of Trastevere and Porta Portese.

La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini, 1960)

One of Federico Fellini’s heights of creativity and one of the most accurate cinema depictions of Rome’s character – particularly as it was in the 1950s, with its post-war mixture of glamour and humdrum genre life. Marcello Mastroianni stars as Marcello Rubini, a gossip magazine journalist who follows the great film star Sylvia wherever she goes (especially on her night outings), the role played by a mesmerising Anita Ekberg. Although such landmarks as the Piazza del Popolo, Via Veneto and Piazza Barberini feature in La Dolce Vita, the movie will always be remembered for the scene at the Fontana di Trevi.

The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino, 2013)

Awarded the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2014, Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty is the 21st century’s La Dolce Vita. Enveloped in a fascinating surrealistic aura, seldom has Rome glittered so exuberantly on celluloid. You simple cannot help falling for Rome as seen through the gaze of Sorrentino as it settles on the Piazza Navona, Baths of Caracalla, Villa Medici, Palazzo Colonna, the Colosseum, Gianicolo, the Tempietto di Bramante and the Orange Garden.

Night On Earth (Jim Jarmusch, 1991)

Roberto Benigni plays an eccentric cabbie, the main star of the Rome vignette of Jim Jarmusch’s Night On Earth.This is a collection of five vignettes with stories set in Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Helsinki and Rome. In the episode set against the backdrop of the Eternal City, Benigni picks up a priest in the early hours and drives him through some of the best known settings in the city, notably the Colosseum, while making a hilarious confession of his sex life.

Rome, Open City (Roberto Rossellini, 1945)

Another essential film of mid-20th-century Italian Neorealism. Inspired by the true story of the priest, Giuseppe Morosini, who was tortured and murdered by the Nazis for having helped the partisans. Filmed in the district of Prenestina the same year World War II ended, Rome, Open City lays bare the physical and moral wounds left by the conflict on the streets of the Eternal City and in the spirit of its people. And, amid so much suffering, a masterful Anna Magnani.

Dear Diary (Nanni Moretti, 1993)

With Dear Diary, this Trans Alpine Woody Allen executed one of his most widely acclaimed films. A semi-autobiographical comedy in the guise of a documentary, it recalls the director’s experiences in three chapters – On My Vespa, Islands and Doctors.In the first of these, Moretti rides his scooter through Rome’s everyday settings in August, providing a different take on the Italian capital. One unforgettable moment shows Moretti dancing with his running Vespa.

Roman Holiday (William Wyler, 1953)

However, the prize for iconic scooter tours of Rome goes to Roman Holiday, starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. It marks a sublime moment in the history of cinema, particularly the scene on the Spanish Steps or the sequence shot at the Bocca della Verità. The winner of three Oscars, this movie marked Rome’s ascendency as a city of cinema.

Book your Vueling to Rome here and let yourself be bewitched by this celluloid city.

Text by Oriol Rodríguez for Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS


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