The Secret to a Roman Holiday IRL


How to create your own Rome itinerary, inspired by the classic film.

“Rome. By all means, Rome. I will cherish my visit here in memory as long as I live.”  

Those were the famous words spoken by Audrey Hepburn’s character Princess Ann in 1953’s Roman Holiday, when asked which Italian city she most enjoyed visiting. It may be fictional but anyone who’s visited Rome will know exactly what she means. Maybe it’s the history. Maybe it’s the unbeatable views you get at the top of each of the city’s seven hills. Maybe it’s the heavenly food, captivating art, passionate locals or Roman way of life. Either way, a trip to Rome should be on everyone’s list at least once in their lifetime.  

What better place to start than taking in all the sights the film captures so well? Inspired by some of the most iconic scenes starring Hepburn and her co-star Gregory Peck, here’s our secret to a Roman Holiday in real life (hint: in true art’otel style, we’ve thrown in a few away-from-the-tourists twists too).  

After the Colosseum, head east to Pigneto

The largest ancient amphitheatre ever built, the Colosseum has been a part of Rome’s fabric since 80 AD. It’s seen gladiator contests, survived earthquakes (albeit a little scathed). It’s worth queuing up for all that historyand to tick a visit to one of the New 7 Wonders of the World off your bucket list.  

Next, hop on the Metro and head east to Pigneto: a hip, multicultural neighbourhood that’s been heralded the Berlin or Brooklyn of Rome. Comparisons aside, this area’s got a personality all of its own. You’ll be able to find loads of street art (especially around Via Fanfulla da Lodi) and eat and drink your way through your pick of authentic bars and restaurants. Make sure to stop by Necci dal 1924 (Via Fanfulla da Lodi, 68), the corner bar that served as the backdrop to avant-garde director Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Accattone 

Galleria Sciarra

Too crowded at the Trevi Fountain? Go to Galleria Sciarra instead

The Trevi Fountain is one of Rome’s most famous landmarks. The large Baroque 18th-century fountain is elaborate, ornate and so much more than a regular fountainand it also happened to be the spot where Princess Ann gets a short new haircut in Roman Holiday. It does draw the crowds though and on a particularly busy day, you may not want to stick around too long.  

Luckily, Galleria Sciarra is just a two-minute walk away (Via Marco Minghetti, 10). This 19th-century courtyard is right in the middle of four-storey buildings, with walls covered in colourful frescoes painted by Giuseppe Cellini. Stop and take more than a moment to look up at this often-overlooked spot.  

Via Margutta, Spanish steps

Climb the Spanish Steps, then stroll down Via Margutta

Piazza di Spagna — the square home to the famous Spanish Steps and conveniently close to art’otel Rome — is buzzing with activity. Take in its 300-year history, pop into the house that John Keats called home and climb the steps where Hepburn ate her chocolate gelato, to catch a glimpse of the piazza from up high. After that, head to nearby Via Margutta, where Gregory Peck’s character Joe Bradley had an apartment in Roman Holiday.

Stroll the short, narrow street where ivy covers ochre-coloured buildings and tables from the small restaurants rest on cobblestones. Home to many painters over the years, you’ll still find it peppered with small art galleries, osterie and independent boutiques.  

Get your Pantheon and palazzo fix

In the film, Hepburn’s character skips the Pantheon for a stop at the nearby (but no longer there) G. Rocca cafe instead. But the Pantheon is one of Ancient Rome’s most well-preserved buildings, so it’s well worth a visit. It’s free to enter and brings visitors in their droves who come to marvel at its marble covered ceiling, checkerboard flooring, and overall awe-inspiring rotunda.  

Just a seven-minute walk from the Pantheon is Galleria Doria Pamphilj (Via del Corso, 305), an extensive private art collection in the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj. Inside this lavishly decorated palace, which is still a private residence, you’ll find Caravaggio’s Penitent Magdalene and The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, Raphael’s Portrait of Andrea Navagero and Agostino Beazzano and more.  

Isola Tiberina or Isola Tiberina in Rome.Italy. Isola dei Due Ponti, Licaonia, San Bartolomeo Island at sunset. An ancient river island of the Tiber with historical monuments, center of Rome.

Catch a film along the Tiber

The river Tiber runs through Rome and in Roman Holiday, it’s where Princess Ann spends an evening dancing on a barge. Said barge no longer exists but there’s another spot on the river that often gets overlooked: Isola Tiberina, or Tiber Island. The island is nestled between the Jewish Quarter and Trastevere and though it’s small, you could easily spend a few hours on this boat-shaped island, with a couple of excellent restaurants, a gelateria and a Baroque church to take in. In summer, it’s home to a three-month-long film festival, with outdoor screenings of films by big names and emerging directors.

Whether you’re planning to walk in Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck’s footsteps, or create a Roman holiday all of your own, there’s something for everyone in this great city. And if you’re already thinking about your future getaway, our upcoming art’otel Rome hotel is your destination for the perfect city break. 

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