"Roman Holiday" Movie Walking Tour, Rome

"Roman Holiday" Movie Walking Tour (Self Guided), Rome

A movie beloved by generations of people, "Roman Holiday" (1953) was filmed entirely in Rome and starred two of Hollywood's greatest icons: Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. The romantic comedy would go on to earn three Oscars, including the best actress trophy for Hepburn, who is entirely sympathetic in a role that could have been off-putting. The main storyline centers on a day of freedom in the beautiful Italian capital for an otherwise duty-bound Princess Ann.

Rome is used beautifully as the film’s setting, with plenty of actual locations used. Of these, the most recognizable would be: the Spanish Steps (where Peck’s character, Joe Bradley, encourages Princess Ann to live a little and try a gelato – thus starting off the holiday!), the Trevi Fountain (where Joe tries to steal an American schoolgirl’s camera while the Princess has her hair cut at a nearby barber shop), the Roman Forum (where they initially meet and Joe takes pity on the sleeping-pill-affected girl), Castel Sant’Angelo (their night of dancing, although the castle is now a museum), and the G Rocco Café outside the 2nd-century Pantheon (that particular cafe no longer exists but others are close-by).

Additional to the above, you will also pass by Joe’s apartment at via Margutta 51 and the beautiful Baroque bell tower seen from its window; the two palaces used for interior/exterior shots of Ann’s ‘Embassy’; and the beautiful Galleria Alberto Sordi, featured in the film as the American News Service Office.

Take our self-guided walking tour to relive the happiest day of Princes Ann’s life in Rome!

Getting to Sight #1. The first tour stop (Palazzo Brancaccio) is a short walk from Termini Train Station or can be reached by Bus: 105,16,70, 75, 714; Train: FC3, FL4, FL5; Metro: A, B; Tram: 5 and 14.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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"Roman Holiday" Movie Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: "Roman Holiday" Movie Walking Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Rome (See other walking tours in Rome)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 4 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 9.0 Km or 5.6 Miles
Author: ChristineT
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Palazzo Brancaccio (Brancaccio Palace): Princess Ann's Embassy
  • Palazzo Barberini (Barberini Palace): Princess Ann's Embassy
  • Scalinata di Trinita dei Monti (Spanish Steps)
  • Via Margutta 51: Joe Bradley's Apartment
  • Castel Sant'Angelo (Sant'Angelo Castle): Night of Dancing on the River
  • Oratorio dei Filippini (Oratory of St. Philip Neri): The Bell Tower Moment
  • G. Rocca Cafe at Pantheon: Meeting Irving
  • Galleria Alberto Sordi (Alberto Sordi Shopping Arcade): American News Service Office
  • Barber Shop at Trevi Fountain: The Haircut
  • Palazzo della Consulta (Constitutional Court): Int. Police Station
  • Palazzo Colonna (Colonna Palace): Ann meets the Press
  • Foro Romano (Roman Forum)
  • Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin (Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin)
Palazzo Brancaccio (Brancaccio Palace): Princess Ann's Embassy

1) Palazzo Brancaccio (Brancaccio Palace): Princess Ann's Embassy

Palazzo Brancaccio served as the filming location for all the interior scenes of Princess Ann's Embassy in the movie "Roman Holiday". While the movie portrays Palazzo Barberini as the location from the outside, the rooms of Palazzo Brancaccio were chosen as the inner set.

Built in 1880, this palace is regarded as the final noble residence ever constructed in Rome, and several of its rooms are featured in the film. Particularly noteworthy is the magnificent Baroque room where the Reception Ball takes place, as well as Her Highness' dormitory and the Hall of Mirrors.

Recall the scene where Ann gazes out of the window at people dancing in the nearby garden party, yearning to be among them? The shot capturing this moment, along with the general view from the window, were indeed filmed at Palazzo Brancaccio.

Additionally, you may remember Ann's daring escape from her room via the balcony, which showcases some of the palace's exterior decorations.

The Brancaccio Palace is situated on Viale del Monte Oppio, between the Colosseum and the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, and is frequently rented for exclusive events and weddings. Furthermore, the building houses various exhibition spaces, art collections, and offices for art curators. Presently, it is primarily dedicated to showcasing contemporary art, including paintings, sculptures, design, photography, and video/audio art, serving as an incredible destination for exploring the latest art trends and discovering the works of contemporary artists.
Palazzo Barberini (Barberini Palace): Princess Ann's Embassy

2) Palazzo Barberini (Barberini Palace): Princess Ann's Embassy

Within the Palazzo Barberini lies the National Gallery of Ancient Art ("Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica"), a splendid collection that weaves together a tapestry of predominantly Italian art spanning from the early Renaissance to the late Baroque era. The gallery showcases remarkable works by renowned artists such as Titian, El Greco, and Caravaggio. However, the true marvel lies in the grandeur of the building itself, which was shaped by the skilled hands of Bernini, Borromini, and Maderno. A visit to the first-floor Gran Salone reveals the captivating fresco, "The Triumph of Divine Providence", painted by Pietro da Cortona in a frenzied Baroque style that seems to come alive and envelop you.

Among the notable paintings in the gallery, do not miss Caravaggio's gripping masterpiece "Judith Beheading Holofernes", Fra' Filippo Lippi's tender "Madonna and Child", and Raphael's enigmatic "Fornarina", believed to depict the daughter of a baker from the Trastevere neighborhood, rumored to have been the artist's mistress (Raphael's name can be seen clearly on the woman's bracelet). Additionally, keep an eye out for Bronzino's portrayal of the proudly upright Stefano Colonna and a portrait of Henry VIII by the talented Hans Holbein. The Palazzo Barberini and its art collection are sure to leave a lasting impression on any visitor.

***Movie "ROMAN HOLIDAY": Princess Ann's Embassy***
Palazzo Barberini, Via delle Quattro Fontane, is where Princess Ann's Embassy is during her stay in Rome. Note its wonderfully ornate gate featured in the film welcoming Princess Ann's delegation, and also in the scenes of her escape from the palace. Either due to availability issues or for aesthetic purposes, interior shots were made in Palazzo Brancaccio, while the interior of Palazzo Barberini was not featured in the film.
Scalinata di Trinita dei Monti (Spanish Steps)

3) Scalinata di Trinita dei Monti (Spanish Steps) (must see)

The renowned Spanish Steps stand as an iconic attraction and popular meeting spot in Rome. Their name derives from the nearby Spanish Embassy, located in Piazza di Spagna. Constructed approximately 300 years ago, this staircase holds the distinction of being the longest and widest in Europe. It gracefully ascends to the exquisite 16th-century church famously known as the Trinity on the Mounts ("Trinità dei Monti").

Today, the Spanish Steps are frequented by tourists from around the globe. However, as early as the 18th century, they captivated artists, poets, and later Hollywood filmmakers. Consequently, the steps became a magnet for aspiring models, affluent Romans, international travelers, and people from all walks of life. The tradition of gathering at the Spanish Steps has become deeply ingrained in both the local Roman population and visitors to the Italian capital.

Situated at the base of the steps, to the right, lies the house-museum of John Keats, the renowned English Romantic poet who once resided there. Additionally, nearby is Babington's tea room, a resilient establishment that has withstood two world wars and numerous adversities, ultimately becoming a beloved tourist attraction.

***Movie "ROMAN HOLIDAY": Joe Meets Ann Again***
Fresh after haircut, Princess Ann sits on the steps, enjoying the view, eating gelato. After taking compliments for her new look, she confesses to Joe Bradley that she had run away from school and takes his proposal to spend the day together before she returns. And here the holiday begins!

Why You Should Visit:
If you appreciate historically rich and visually appealing locations, the Spanish Steps should undoubtedly be on your itinerary. Alongside tourist activities such as carriage rides, you'll find an array of shops and bars to explore. Most notably, the staircase offers picturesque views of Rome from its pinnacle, particularly at sunset—an unbeatable sight!

The afternoon and later hours are the best time to visit so as to avoid the heat of the day.
Via Margutta 51: Joe Bradley's Apartment

4) Via Margutta 51: Joe Bradley's Apartment

Joe Bradley resided at Via Margutta 51, where the interior of his apartment and the spiral staircase were constructed as a studio set. whereas the external features of the courtyard were genuine. The arched wooden entrance could be found a mere two doors north of Vicolo dell'Orto di Napoli.

Upon entering, one would discover a spacious court, with the artist's studio apartment situated on the right. Towards the back, a tunnel passageway (notable for the eagle sculpture adorning its entrance) would lead to another landing. This landing was showcased in the film when Joe lent Ann money, and observant viewers could spot the landlord's balcony situated above the tunnel.

To locate Joe's apartment door, one would need to ascend several flights of stairs while staying to the right. It is highly likely that the view captured from Joe's terrace was filmed from one of these apartments within the courtyard.
Castel Sant'Angelo (Sant'Angelo Castle): Night of Dancing on the River

5) Castel Sant'Angelo (Sant'Angelo Castle): Night of Dancing on the River

Surely you recall the memorable moment when Princess Ann received an invitation from Mario Delani, the barber responsible for her stunning new haircut, to join him for a night of dancing aboard a barge on the Tiber River. The scene brims with excitement, particularly as secret agents pursue the Princess, resulting in a delightful commotion. And who could forget her ingenious move of playfully striking one of the agents with a guitar, thereby making him the "crowned head" of the night's festivities?

Although the barge is no longer present, it used to be moored between Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II (built in 1886) and Ponte Sant'Angelo (constructed in 134 AD). Positioned at the base of Castel Sant'Angelo, a mausoleum from the 2nd century housing the remains of Roman Emperor Hadrian, this historic location has served various purposes over the centuries, including being a castle, papal residence, and prison. Today, it stands as the National Museum of Castel Sant'Angelo.

The night of dancing concludes with a thrilling leap into the river.
Oratorio dei Filippini (Oratory of St. Philip Neri): The Bell Tower Moment

6) Oratorio dei Filippini (Oratory of St. Philip Neri): The Bell Tower Moment

If you happen to find yourself on one of the numerous balconies facing south along Via Margutta, you can admire the exquisite Baroque bell tower seen from Joe's apartment window – the same one that chimed to awaken Joe on the day the Princess' interview was unexpectedly canceled. The tower, more accurately described as a turret, is actually situated on the opposite side of the downtown area and belongs to the Oratory of Saint Phillip Neri, known as "Oratorio dei Filippini," a structure built between 1637 and 1662 under the skillful guidance of architect Francesco Borromini. In 1649, the remarkable turret was added at the corner of the oratory, overlooking the charmingly small Piazza dell'Orologio.

Borromini's architectural style is evident in the oratory's gracefully curved facade, showcasing his inclination to infuse movement into his designs. The inspiration behind this particular creation was that of outstretched arms welcoming the less fortunate. Inside the building, you will discover the Vallicelliana Library, which was founded by Philip Neri. The library's courtyard is usually accessible during its opening hours, providing visitors with a serene space to explore. Alternatively, guided visits can be arranged by email for those seeking a more in-depth experience.
G. Rocca Cafe at Pantheon: Meeting Irving

7) G. Rocca Cafe at Pantheon: Meeting Irving

Following Joe's encounter with Ann, as they meet while she indulges in gelato at the Spanish Steps, the two of them agree to embark on a holiday filled with simple pleasures. They envision sitting at sidewalk cafes, admiring shop windows, strolling through the rain, and embracing moments of joy and excitement. To fulfill Ann's first wish, Joe confidently declares, "I know just the place. Rocca's." This establishment, G. Rocca Cafe, can be found adjacent to the magnificent Pantheon, a structure dating back to 126 AD, precisely at the northwest corner of its facade.

Rocca's becomes the setting where Ann enjoys a unique breakfast experience, sipping champagne and encountering Irving Radovich, Joe's colleague and photographer. It is also the place where she tries her first cigarette. However, it's worth noting that Rocca's has since undergone a transformation. Located at the corner of Via della Rotonda, it is no longer a cafe but has evolved into a trendy Italian fashion store, boasting an extensive collection of denim. While its purpose has shifted, the location itself still holds the memories and charm of those enchanting moments shared by Joe and Ann.
Galleria Alberto Sordi (Alberto Sordi Shopping Arcade): American News Service Office

8) Galleria Alberto Sordi (Alberto Sordi Shopping Arcade): American News Service Office

In the film, Joe Bradley serves as a journalist at the American News Service Office in Rome. For those curious about the actual location of the office, it was situated in the Galleria Alberto Sordi, formerly known as Palazzo della Galleria Colonna, located at Piazza Colonna.

While the interior scenes of Mr. Hennessey's office were filmed in a studio, the view portrayed through his window unmistakably captures the magnificent marble Column of Marcus Aurelius (constructed in 193 AD) and the fountain in Piazza de Colonna (built in 1577) in front of the Galleria Alberto Sordi. This splendid shopping arcade, which opened its doors to the public in 1922, offers a delightful respite from the bustling crowds of Via del Corso on hot days.

A visit to the Galleria Alberto Sordi is well worth it, not only to admire the unique building with its stunning stained-glass ceiling but also for the diverse selection of high-quality shops it houses. While some younger-focused chain stores have found their place in recent years, this establishment remains the go-to destination for discovering Italy's most intriguing brands, each occupying their separate storefronts beneath a single Art Nouveau roof.
Barber Shop at Trevi Fountain: The Haircut

9) Barber Shop at Trevi Fountain: The Haircut

After bidding farewell to Joe Bradley at his apartment, Ann embarks on a leisurely walk back to her palace, savoring the charms of Rome's narrow streets. Engrossed in the vibrant street life, she finds herself captivated by a young Italian woman with a chic, short haircut emerging from a barber shop. Intrigued, Ann decides to seize the moment and enters the establishment, requesting the services of the barber, Mario Delani, to transform her own locks. This particular shop was situated to the east of the iconic Trevi Fountain, a renowned landmark dating back to 1629. Specifically, it could be found at Via della Stamperia 85, just to the left of the grand rectangular entrance. However, in present times, the shop has transformed into a leather goods store, adapting to the changing times.

Meanwhile, Joe Bradley, ever the opportunist, attempts to discreetly borrow a camera from a young American girl at Trevi Fountain, aiming to capture a candid shot of Ann during her haircutting adventure. Today, much like in 1953, the Trevi Fountain remains a bustling attraction, teeming with tourists eager to witness its grandeur. It's worth noting that this Baroque fountain also played a significant role in Fellini's iconic film "La Dolce Vita" in 1960, further cementing its place in cinematic history.
Palazzo della Consulta (Constitutional Court): Int. Police Station

10) Palazzo della Consulta (Constitutional Court): Int. Police Station

The late Baroque palace was built between 1732-35, designed by Ferdinando Fuga. Originally intended to house the Sacra Consulta congregation, as well as the quarters for the Cavalleggeri (the Pope's cavalry guards) and the Corazze (the foot soldiers assigned to the papal carriage escort), the edifice served as the Prefecture of the Tiber during the Napoleonic era, and in 1848, it became the seat of the government of the Second Roman Republic. A century later, in 1955, it was set as the permanent location for the Constitutional Court.

The construction of the the Consulta required the complete demolition of the previous palace's foundations and the remnants of the ancient Roman Baths of Constantine. Furthermore, due to considerable soil instability characterized by water infiltrations and landslides, special techniques were employed. Fuga implemented ground reinforcement methods involving the sinking of piles and the construction of thick underground walls held together by chains.

***Movie "ROMAN HOLIDAY": Police Station***
As Joe, Ann, and Irving make their getaway from G. Rocca Cafe, the exhilarating Vespa ride through the city commences! While Joe skillfully maneuvers the fashionable scooter through the bustling streets of Rome, Ann's journey is a bit more eventful, resulting in a few collisions with sidewalk cafe tables and street vendor stalls. Eventually, they find themselves at the police station, located in the Palazzo della Consulta. Although only glimpses are shown, the presence of the Fontana dei Dioscuri, the fountain and obelisk in front of the Palazzo della Consulta at Piazza Quirinale, serves as evidence of their location.
Palazzo Colonna (Colonna Palace): Ann meets the Press

11) Palazzo Colonna (Colonna Palace): Ann meets the Press

The grandest family in Rome, the Colonna family, constructed for themselves the grandest private palace in the city—a magnificent blend of 17th and 18th-century buildings that has remained in the possession of the Colonna family for over 20 generations. This immense palatial residence stands proudly, facing Piazza dei Santi Apostoli on one side and the Quirinal Hill on the other. A small bridge over Via della Pilotta connects the palace to the gardens on the hill. While the palazzo still serves as the home of some Colonna patricians, it also houses an exquisite art gallery, welcoming the public on Saturday mornings or by guided tour on Friday mornings.

The gallery itself emanates an aura of aristocratic grandeur. You may recognize the Sala Grande as the very location where Princess Ann meets the press in the beloved film "Roman Holiday", ultimately making her heartfelt decision between love and duty. The closing scene, etched vividly in memory, depicts Gregory Peck walking alone through the empty hall, his footsteps resonating against the remarkably tall walls adorned with multiple levels of paintings.

At one end of the gallery stands an ancient red marble column, which bears the family's emblem. However, the most spectacular feature is the ceiling fresco depicting the Battle of Lepanto, a masterpiece painted by Giovanni Coli and Filippo Gherardi, commencing in 1675. The gallery further exudes opulence through its collection of works by renowned artists such as Poussin, Tintoretto, and Veronese, as well as proudly displaying numerous portraits of illustrious family members, including Vittoria Colonna, the muse and dear friend of Michelangelo.

Guided tours in English are available, included in the entrance fee, to assist visitors in navigating the impressive array of artworks featuring madonnas, saints, goddesses, popes, and cardinals. Notably, within the gallery, one can admire Annibale Carracci's poignant painting, "The Beaneater," portraying a solitary figure with a spoon in hand and a missing front tooth. To enhance the experience, the gallery also houses a delightful café with a pleasant terrace, providing a charming setting to relax and savor the surroundings.
Foro Romano (Roman Forum)

12) Foro Romano (Roman Forum) (must see)

One of, if not THE most celebrated meeting spot in the world of all times, the Roman Forum, had been the nerve center of ancient Rome's public life.

It is believed that people first gathered here around 500 BC, initially for day-to-day trading at a marketplace. Over the next few centuries, as more activities started to take place here, such as voting, public speaking, social gatherings, criminal trials, gladiator matches, religious ceremonies, and business deals, this small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline hills gradually turned into a multi-purpose hub filled with buildings, arches, streets, and monuments.

The ancient Romans were incredibly well organized, and the placement of sites within the Forum still makes a lot of sense even today. The best-known sights here include the Senate House, the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Titus, the Temple of Vesta, the Rostra, the Temple of Castor and Pollus, Via Sacra, and others.

Unlike the Imperial Fora modeled on an ancient Greek town square, the Roman Forum developed gradually and organically. It was reconstructed many times throughout its existence, attesting to which are the traces of the influence of different architectural styles from different periods. Most of the ancient Forum was destroyed in the 5th century AD, around the time when the West Roman Empire fell into decline.

Even though now reduced to crumbling ruins, the Forum still remains a historical relic of incalculable value attracting some 5 million visitors annually.

***Movie "ROMAN HOLIDAY": Joe Encounters Ann***
The Roman Forum would be a convenient place for Princess Ann and Joe Bradley to meet: she, on the escape from the palace; he, from a poker game at Irving Radovich's apartment. As Ann feels the effects of a sleeping pill, she rests on a brick bench near the Temple of Saturn (4th century BC) and the Arch of Septimus Severus (203 AD). That's where Joe finds her, takes pity on her and tries to take her home. Never managing to get her address, he takes her to his place by taxi. The road seen in the film, close to the ancient arch, no longer exists. There used to be a road running along the northwest edge of the Roman Forum, but it has been closed for quite some time, part of it remaining as a cul-de-sac.
Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin (Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin)

13) Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin (Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin)

Built in the 6th century, this charming and unadorned church occupies the site where the ancient city's food market once stood. Over the centuries, it has undergone architectural additions and restorations that have shaped its current form. During the 12th century, an elegant Romanesque bell tower and portico were incorporated into the structure. However, in the 19th century, the Baroque façade was removed, allowing the church to be restored to its original simplicity. Within its walls, visitors can admire the exquisite craftsmanship of the Cosmati work, prominently displayed in the mosaic pavement, raised choir, bishop's throne, and the canopy adorning the main altar.

One notable feature can be found set into the wall of the portico—the Bocca della Verità, or the "Mouth of Truth". Its origins can be traced back to ancient times, possibly as a drain cover predating the 4th century BC. According to medieval tradition, the fearsome jaws of the Mouth of Truth would close upon the hand of anyone who told a lie, making it a peculiar yet intriguing tool for testing the faithfulness of spouses.

***Movie "ROMAN HOLIDAY"***
The Mouth of Truth ("Bocca della Verità"), considered the funniest scene in the movie 'Roman Holiday', is where Joe Bradley puts his hand into the sculpture's mouth. In the film, Audrey Hepburn's reaction to the nipped Gregory Peck's hand was not an act, as he decided to pull a gag without telling her beforehand.

Why You Should Visit:
Most people come here to see the "Mouth of Truth" (for a fee), but do take some time to visit the interior as well – you'll be amazed by the skill and beauty of the mosaic of tiles under your feet. On the other hand, the exterior has a rather unique look, with its porches and slender bell tower.

Across from the church you'll find more ancient architecture in a grassy park with a fine fountain.

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