Sunday, 12 August 2012

'Rome! By all means, Rome'

Girls dig out your cropped pants & shades a la Audrey Hepburn for we are off on our very own Roman Holiday - ideally this will take place any weekend in June
We  start at the Forum/Colosseum – No  need to purchase tickets for Forum/Colosseum as from a ‘Roman Holiday’ point of view all is visible from outside. However if you would like to view both in more depth then make sure that you purchase your tickets from the Forum entrance on Via dei Fori Imperiale as the queue will be much shorter. If you are not purchasing tickets then make your starting point Piazza del  Campidoglio . Walk up Michelangelo’s great staircase & admire his geometric paving & building facades. Walk towards the gap between  the centre building (Palazzo Senatorio) & the right hand building (Palazzo del Campidoglio). Carry on walking to see an amazing view of the Forum opening up in front of you. Retrace your steps in front of Palazzo Senatorio & take the road on the other side (Via di San Pietro in Carcere) for a good view of the Arch of Septimius Severus. It was on a  stone bench  with the arch in the background where Joe Bradley & Princess Ann first met.

Continue downVia dei Fori Imperiale for an exterior view of the Colosseum


Assuming it is now lunchtime you could take a break at Nerone, Via delle Terme di Tito 96 (Tel 06 474 5207)

Once you are refreshed resume walking uphill along Viale del Monte Oppio until you reach Via Merulana. You will see the Museum of Oriental Art, also known as Palazzo Brancaccio. Several rooms in this Palazzo were filmed as the interior of Princess Ann’s Embassy notably he Baroque room where the Reception ball was held. Romantics amongst you might like to know that you can get married here!
Time for a gelato. Take a ten minute walk from here to Fassi Gelateria, Via Principe Eugenio 65. Also known as Palazzo del Freddo this is one of the oldest gelaterias in Italy & the place to try a classic gelato. I can recommend limone!
Maybe now you are ready for some ‘down time’. Vittorio Emanuele is your closest metro station or take a bus to Termini to connect all over the city.
Be ready for your 8.00pm date with a vintage Vespa (or Fiat 500 for the faint hearted!) A three hour escorted city tour follows. See Nerone Tours for details. Well , it wouldn’t be a Roman Holiday itinerary without a Vespa ride now would it!?

First stop this morning is Palazzo Colonna.( Piazza dei Santi Apostoli, 53-66 - Via della Pilotta, 17 )
The entrance fee to the palazzo includes a chance to see the Sala Grande where Princess Ann  meets the press in Roman Holiday. Indeed, in a small room before you reach the Grand Hall you will see that very scene played on a flat screen TV. Note how the production team very cleverly hide the cannonball embedded in one of the steps!

Walk towards Piazza Venezia & then along Via Teatro di Marcello to Bocca della Verita also known as the Mouth of Truth, situated in the portico of Santa Maria in Cosemedin (15-20 minute walk or you could take bus 81 or 628 from Piazza Venezia ) This is the location of  one of the most famous scenes in the film. Supposedly Audrey Hepburn was genuinely surprised when Gregory Peck pretended to lose his hand as it wasn’t scripted that way .

Head off in the direction of Via San Teodoro to the Farmers Market and  pick up supplies for a picnic lunch which  may be  supplemented by cake or  pastries  from Cristalli di Zucchero at the end of Via di San Teodoro (near Via dei Cerchi ) 
Take your provisions & enjoy lunch in the delightful  surroundings of the Municipal  Rose Garden  (off Piazzale Ugo La Malfa)– a feast for all your senses. Look out for ‘Audrey Hepburn’ – a light pink tea rose. It may not be included in the planting but you will see many gorgeous rose bushes whilst searching!

Refreshed, begin your climb up the Aventine hill at Via Valle Murcia, continiuing on Via di Santa Sabina until you reach the Giardini degli Aranci (orange garden) Walk to the terrace at the end of the garden & take in the magnificent view that is before you.
One more  surprise awaits before you descend for a well earned gelato. Continue on to the Piazza Cavalieri di Malta where you should peek through the keyhole in the green door. Before your very eyes is St Peter’s Basilica framed by a line of trees – perfect!

Retrace your steps on to Via Santa Sabina, turning right on to Via Raimondo da Capua then make your way down to Piazza San Prisca. Head towards Via Fonte di Fauno then take a right on to Via Licinia. Carry on to Viale Aventino & when you reach there use the crossing to the other side of the road where you will find Il Gelato di Claudio Torce (Viale Aventino 59) Time to indulge in a well earned treat.
Carry on along Viale Aventino until you reach the Circo Massimo metro station. Take the metro to Barberini (you will need to change at Termini).
As you exit at Barberini feast your eyes on Bernini’s wonderful Triton fountain. If you look closely you will see bees make up part of the sculpture . The bee is a Barberini family symbol.

Head upwards on Via delle Quattro Fontaine. Very soon you will see a familiar sight from the film – Palazzo Barberini or in the land of make believe Princess Ann’s Embassy. Exterior shots only  which of course you now know as we saw Palazzo Brancaccio yesterday. If you have time Palazzo Barberini is well worth a visit. It contains works by among others, Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian & Canaletto. The ceiling frescoes are magnificent especially in the Grand Salon where those bees make an appearance again.   If you are short of time  & not able to visit the interior do try to get a glimpse of the gardens, entrance to which are free. Enter gardens through the grand gates; pass underneath the building, up a long ramp to the terraces beyond.After enjoying the sights and scents of the garden carry on along Via delle Quattro Fontaine until you reach the crossroads of the four fountains. Turn right on to Via del Quirinale and continue on to Piazza del Quirinale. The  Quirinale Palace is the home of the Italian President. Look across the road and you will see the Palazzo della Consulta which was the site of the police station where Princess Ann & Joe Bradley were taken after the vespa ride through the city. If you watch carefully in the film you will see glimpses of the fountain & obelisk in Piazza
del Quirinale

Cross to the right hand corner of the Piazza and take the steps down on to Via Scalone. Turn left on to Via Lavatore which will bring you to the Trevi fountain . After you have thrown in your coins to ensure that you will return to Rome, check out the leather shop at Via Stamperia 65. This was the location of the barber shop where Princess Ann had a short trendy hair cut. Retrace your steps in front of the fountain and take Via Muratte which leads to the Via del Corso from where you can catch a bus to many parts of the city.By now you will be ready for ‘down time’ in preparation for your final day of Roman Holiday sightseeing
After admiring the Barcaccia fountain at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna take Via del Babuino & look for Via Margutta on the right hand side. No 51 is where Joe Bradley has his very small apartment (Princess Ann ‘Is this the elevator?’ – Joe ‘This is my ROOM!’) You may be lucky enough to peer into the courtyard itself if the wide wooden gates are open. Via Margutta is a lovely street in itself with many art & antique shops. Ron in Rome has a really good article on this. Be sure to fill up your water bottle in the fountain of the artists, so called as it has a pot of paintbrushes on the top to reflect the crafts in the neighbourhood.

 Continue along Via Margutta to Piazza del Popolo. After admiring this amazing Piazza take the steps on the right hand side upwards to Viale Trinita dei Monti. Enjoy strolling along and admiring the views over the rooftops of Rome. Eventually you will come to Cafe Ciampini. Now you could stop for coffee but an even better idea would be take out gelato which you could enjoy, as Princess Ann did, whilst descending the Spanish Steps.

Head along Via Condotti, window shopping as you go, until you reach Via del Corso. Turn left & keep walking until you reach Galleria Alberto Sordi – you can’t miss this upmarket Art Nouveau shopping arcade but our interest is that this is where the headquarters of the American News Service Office in Rome was filmed – Joe reports to Mr Hennessey here. Look out of the window whilst watching the film & see the column of Marcus Aurelius. Cross the road and you will see the column up close & personal. Make your way to the Pantheon. En route you may wish to purchase a Roman Holiday Calendar from one of the many stores on the way – a fitting souvenir I think!
Take time to visit the Pantheon. It is worth it for the oculus alone – such a magnificent building & so amazing that it still stands after so many centuries.

 We are here because this is the location of  Rocca’s cafe. Princess Ann drinks champagne but I suggest we walk a short distance to Enoteca Spiriti on Via Sant’Eustachio & drink Franciacorta. This is made by the same method as champagne but it is Italian!
Almost time for lunch but before we take a well earned rest let us cross the Corso del Rinascimento & head for Piazza Navonna. Admire Bernini’s fountains & take in the atmosphere of this busy Piazza then take Via di Pasquini which leads to Piazza di Pasquini & our lunch spot – Cul de Sac. If you take a seat outside you will be able to see Pasquini himself on the corner opposite – one of Rome’s famous talking statues.
Suitably refreshed continue walking along Via dei Governo Vecchio until you reach the Torre dell’ Orologio. This bell tower will seem familiar to you as it is the one that Joe sees every morning from his apartment – strange as it is right across the city from Via Margutta. That is the magic of film making!
Continue along Via di Banchi Nuovi until you reach Ponte Sant’Angelo lined with beautiful angels designed by Bernini. . There is Castel Sant’Angelo before you – the background to the barge scene.

Hopefully you will be returning here later but now you have a choice. You can return to your hotel/apartment for ‘down time’ or you could walk over the bridge and along Via di Conciliazone to St Peters Basilica.

Either way, once it starts to get dark make your way back to the banks of the Tiber. If you have timed your visit right Lungo il Tevere will be taking place where stalls are set up along the riverbank selling all manner of food & drink. Not quite dancing on a barge but atmospheric all the same and a fitting way to end our Roman Holiday