America has been shooting movies in Rome since WWII, so it’s no wonder why there are so many Hollywood film locations in Rome. I think to the English-speaking western world, Rome (superficially) represents the kind of huge, European cosmopolitan city where it’s super easy to feel like you’re getting a ‘cultural’ experience without having to delve too far out of your comfort zone. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! And for big film productions, it’s easy to inject a little bit of culture and sophistication into a movie by setting a few scenes in Italy’s capital city.
If you’ve been watching some films set in Rome to get excited about your trip, you might want to visit a few top Hollywood film locations in Rome, too. So this list includes some of the best filming locations in Rome you can visit!
Hollywood Film Locations in Rome
1. The Mouth of Truth as seen in Roman Holiday (1953)
Where: Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Piazza Della Bocca Della Verità, 18, 00186
I’ve already written a whole blog post on detailing every Roman Holiday filming location in Rome. But the most iconic location has to be the ‘Mouth of Truth‘ based just outside Santa Maria in Cosmedin Church not far from the Colosseum.
Roman Holiday follows Audrey Hepburn as a Princess on a European tour who runs off into the night to discover the ‘real’ Rome and live like a normal person for a while. She means American Journalist, played by Gregory Peck, who recognises her and agrees to be her chaperone for the day in the hopes of publishing an exclusive interview.
Halfway through their ‘Roman Holiday’, the Journalist takes the Princess to visit the 4th-century Mouth of Truth. As the legend says, the mouth eats the hands of liars. Luckily for the Princess, it’s only a myth as she’s been pretending not to be a Princess all day!
There was a long queue for the ‘Mouth of Truth’ when I visited which just goes to show you how famous it is from the film! Also, I recommend taking someone with you so you can have a photograph with the, erm, face statue. In reality, it’s just an interesting sculpture probably built to cover a water source like an old-timey drain cover. So no, it won’t help you prove whether or not your partner has been cheating on you.
2. Trevi Fountain as seen in Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
Where: Piazza di Trevi, 00187
By visiting the Trevi fountain, you can kill two birds with one stone! Not only is it a must-visit thing to do in Rome, but the Trevi Fountain is also a filming location. Three Coins in the Fountain is about three women who live and work together in Rome who hope to fall in love. Roman Holiday isn’t the only Hollywood film to include an old wives’ tale, Three Coins in the Fountain is based on one! Throwing one coin in the Trevi fountain means that you will one day return to Rome. Throwing two coins means you will return and fall in love, and throwing three coins in the fountain means you will return, fall in love and get married.
Yes, it is a bit of an eye-rolling saying. And it’s obviously geared towards supposedly desperate women. But there are worse things than returning to Rome and marrying an Italian man, eh?
3. Ponte Sant’Angelo as seen in The Godfather Part III (1990)
Where: Ponte Sant’Angelo, 00186
You no doubt remember that The Godfather Trilogy shot most of its scenes in New York City, where the films are set. And you might vaguely remember that each of the three films features Sicily at some point. But do you remember The Godfather Part III‘s jaunt to Rome and Vatican City? I’ll forgive you if you don’t, it’s unanimously known as the most inferior film in the series.
At one point, Don Michael Corleone wants to own shares in an international real estate company by buying out the Vatican Bank. When he discovers it’s all one big con, he orders the murder of Frederick Keinszig, the Vatican’s accountant. It’s not exactly a low-key affair, as his body is hanged from Ponte Sant’Angelo, the bridge opposite Castel Sant’Angelo for the entire city to see. Those Corleones sure do love sending a message, right? Not the most travel-inspiring Hollywood film location in Rome but definitely not a boring one.
4. Palazzo Della Civiltà Italiana as seen in Hudson Hawk (1991)
Where: Quadrato Della Concordia, 3, E.U.R, 00144
I’ll be honest, I hadn’t even heard of Hudson Hawk before writing this list of popular Hollywood film locations in Rome. It absolutely bombed at the box office and it features Bruce Willis SINGING on the soundtrack (?!). Hudson Hawk is also based on conspiracy theories and wrapped up in a slapstick comedy style. Hudson Hawk kinda sounds like a car crash you can’t look away from.
The movie stars Bruce Willis in the titular role who, upon his release from prison for burglary, is promptly blackmailed into stealing Leonardo Da Vinci works for an evil American corporation based in Rome. This company is headquartered in the E.U.R district of the city. If you don’t know much about Italy’s Fascist history during WWII (and I’d be right there with you), it’s where Mussolini planned to celebrate 20 years of Fascism in 1942 with a World’s Fair which, thankfully, never happened. The Palazzo Della Civiltà Italiana building is the most iconic Fascist building in this business district and notably features in Hudson Hawk. I think Hudson has some sort of scrap on the steps outside of this building.
5. Galeassi Ristorante as seen in Only You (1994)
Where: Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere, 3, 00153
Only You is definitely my kind of film. It’s a country-hopping romance with a ridiculous premise set in Italy, what’s not to love? The film is about a woman called Faith (played by Marisa Tomei), who is convinced that her soul mate is a man called Damon Bradley (Robert Downey Jr.) after a fortune-teller and an Ouiji board says so. Years later, she learns that her fiancé’s best friend from high school is actually called Damon Bradley. With the wedding fast approaching, she follows Damon to Venice, Tuscany and finally Rome to catch up with him.
Faith finally catches up to Damon at a restaurant in the Trastevere neighbourhood in Rome called Galeassi Ristorante in Piazza di Santa Maria. The Trastevere neighbourhood is just across the river Tiber and the perfect place in Rome to ‘get lost’ down the cobbled side streets.
6. Spanish Steps as seen in The Talented Mr Ripley (1999)
Where: Piazza di Spagna, 00187
I absolutely adore The Talented Mr Ripley because it’s a travel-inspiring film that’s got everything: a great plot with lots of twists and turns, fantastic actors and stunning locations. The ‘Mr Ripley’ in question is Tom Ripley, a working-class man hired by the concerned father of Dickie Greenleaf. Dickie is a trust-fund kid who is off galivanting in Europe and his father wants Tom to convince Dickie to come home and work in the family business. Tom and Dickie become friends, at first, but when Dickie begins to grow tired of Tom hanging around, the latter isn’t so keen on leaving his new lavish lifestyle.
The Talented Mr Ripley is set in Naples, Venice, San Remo and Rome. While in Rome, Tom hatches a plan for two of his friends to meet in a café in Piazza di Spagna to protect his cover. He spies on them through the railings halfway up the Spanish Steps. Isn’t it great when all the best Hollywood film locations in Rome that you’d like to visit are also popular attractions? You’re visiting top filming locations without even realising!
7. St Peter’s Square as seen in Eurotrip (2004)
Where: Vatican City
I know. Eurotrip is one of those awful teen movies of the same ilk as American Pie (1999) and Road Trip (2000). Except, is it though? I personally think Eurotrip is a lot of fun and at the very least it will make you want to backpack around Europe! And it also boasts a Hollywood film location in Rome that’s super easy to visit.
Scotty and his friend Cooper decided to crash their friends’ summer trip around Europe in order to meet Scotty’s German penpal Mieke. They visit Paris, London, Amsterdam, Bratislava, Berlin and finally Rome trying to chase down Mieke before she leaves on her summer study programme. While some of Eurotrip‘s filming locations aren’t authentic, they actually shot the pivotal scene in which Scotty professes his love for Mieke in St Peter’s Square in Vatican City.
Angels and Demons (2006) could not get permission to shoot in Vatican City and neither could Mission: Impossible III. But Eurotrip? The Catholic Church approves this Hollywood filming location, apparently!
8. Pantheon as seen in Ocean’s Twelve (2004)
Where: Piazza Della Rotonda, 00186
I know that Ocean’s Twelve is usually regarded as the worst film in the Ocean’s Trilogy but I really quite like it. It’s the middle film after Ocean’s Eleven (2001) and would you believe it, before Ocean’s Thirteen (2007). After the shenanigans of the first film, Danny Ocean and his team need to cough up the money they stole from the dude in the first film OR ELSE. They travel to Europe to try and pull off three different heists to scrape the money together.
The million-dollar house on Lake Como is possibly the most memorable filming location from Ocean’s Twelve. But Brad Pitt’s character meeting Catherine Zeta-Jones’ Europol agent outside the Pantheon in Piazza Della Rotonda is possibly one of the best, most high-profile Hollywood film locations in Rome. Can you just imagine being one of those tourists in the piazza when they were filming this scene?!
9. Via Della Pilotta in Rione Trevi as seen in Mission: Impossible III (2006)
Okay, so this is possibly one of the least glamorous Hollywood film locations in Rome. But you know, there are some HUGE Mission: Impossible fans out there who might want to check out every single filming location from the franchise! And if you go, Via Della Pilotta in Rione Trevi is going to be one of them.
Agent Ethan Hunt has seemingly retired from fieldwork but is pulled back in when a violent arms dealer threatens to kill him and his fiancee. The team discover that the bad guy will be in Vatican City to retrieve a mysterious object called ‘Rabbit’s Foot’. So, Ethan travels to Rome in an attempt to track him down.
Mission: Impossible III didn’t actually shoot any scenes in Vatican City. The Royal Palace of Caserta in Campania near Naples actually stood in for St Peter’s Basilica. And Via Della Pilotta in Rione Treni is a street in Rome which stood in as the entrance to the Basilica.
10. Fountain of the Four Rivers as seen in Angels and Demons (2009)
Where: Piazza Navona, 00186
I’ve talked at great length about my love for The Da Vinci Code Trilogy on this blog and I’ve already written an entire blog post on the Angels and Demons filming locations in Rome. But I’ll take any excuse to talk about them again!
The film Angels and Demons follows The Da Vinci Code (2006) and precedes Inferno (2016) in the trilogy which focuses on our friendly neighbourhood Symbologist Professor Robert Langdon on a series of religious/conspiracy-inspired quests in Europe. In Angels and Demons, he receives a call from the Vatican to assist them in rescuing their four captured cardinals and a vile of anti-matter which is about to explode and kill off the entire population of Rome. No pressure then, Robert.
Following the clues and his own brilliance, Langdon reaches the end of the line at the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona where *spoiler alert* the fourth cardinal is drowning. This fountain is a Bernini sculpture representing the four main rivers on four continents: the Nile, the Danube, the Ganges and Río de la Plata.
Another Hollywood film that utilised Piazza Navona as a filming location is coming up next…
11. Castel Sant’Angelo as seen in Eat Pray Love (2010)
Where: Lungotevere Castello, 50, 00193
Yep, Eat Pray Love also shot in and around Piazza Navona. In fact, the bench where Julia Roberts sits and eats gelato next to a couple of Nuns is featured on all the posters happens to be situated in this piazza. But that’s not one of the Hollywood film locations in Rome we’re talking about today! You can read about the rest of the Eat Pray Love filming locations in Rome in my blog post here if you like.
Nope, I’m talking about Castel Sant’Angelo. When NYC-based author Elizabeth Gilbert loses everything in her divorce, including her zest for life, she decides to take one year off ‘finding herself.’ She spends four months in Italy (eat), four months in an Ashram in India (pray) and four months in Bali (love). When she first moves to Rome, she tells an old Italian joke via narration as she looks out over the city of Rome at sunset from Castel Sant’Angelo‘s viewing platform.
I love the memoir the film is based on, too. And even though Eat Pray Love isn’t considered a ‘good’ film, I love it regardless. I think it’s a very inspiring, wanderlust-inducing film that a lot of travellers would enjoy watching.
12. Piazza Borghese in When in Rome (2010)
Gotta be honest, I’ve not watched When in Rome. I’ve seen the 2002 Mary-Kate and Ashley version of When in Rome, but I was about 10-years-old when I watched that so you’ll have to forgive my questionable taste in movies. But this version of When in Rome? It looks DIRE and there are so many other, better Hollywood films shot in the eternal city as you can already tell from this list.
But hey, you might be a huge Kristen Bell fan and not care about the film’s quality. She stars as a woman named Beth who has to jet off to Rome to attend her younger sister’s spontaneous wedding ceremony. Her sister tells her about a ‘fountain of love’ (a fictional fountain based on the Trevi fountain). And if you take coins from the fountain, the original owner of the coin will fall in love with you. She takes a fair few different coins and before you know it, she’s instantly (and aggressively) targeted by random men. Definitely, don’t do this with the real-life Trevi fountain because I think that money goes to charity.
So the fake fountain was constructed in Piazza Borghese in Rome. Apparently, tourists were convinced this was a real fountain and, because it has a resemblance to the Trevi fountain, they started throwing coins in the fake one. So, head to Piazza Borghese if you want to recreate the magic from When in Rome!
13. Auditorium Parco Della Musica as seen in To Rome with Love (2012)
Where: Via Pietro de Coubertin, 30, 00196
I know it’s not the best film set in Rome, but To Rome with Love cannot be beaten on the sheer amount of filming locations featured. You could spend your entire trip just following the filming locations from this movie! And if that’s something you legitimately want to do, check out my To Rome with Love filming locations blog post.
To Rome with Love tells four unrelated stories about several different characters and their lives in Rome. Some live in Rome, some are visiting, some are studying… It’s just a mish-mash of different narratives. In one of those stories, Architect student Jack develops a crush on his girlfriend’s friend who is visiting them. He takes her on a tour of Rome which includes a visit to a music venue called Auditorium Parco Della Musica because he likes the design of the building.
Visiting this Hollywood film location in Rome might be somewhere you’d visit on a second or third trip. There’s probably a lot of other things to do in Rome that you’d rather tick off first. But sometimes it’s nice to see places off the beaten path, you know?
14. Villa di Fiorano as seen in Spectre (2015)
Where: Via Appia Antica, 400, 00178
This is possibly the most glamorous Hollywood film location in Rome, and what’s more glamorous than a James Bond film like Spectre? It’s the most recent Bond film before No Time to Die (2020) is released next year. In this instalment, a posthumous message received from M sends Bond on the trail of a super-dangerous crime organisation. He attends the funeral of a member in Rome and infiltrates a group meeting somewhere in the city before starting a car chase.
Because he’s James Bond and because the widow of the dude whose funeral it was is played by the irresistible Monica Bellucci, Bond ends up back at her place. Her mansion just happens to be Villa di Fiorano which is just a stunning estate/events venue right next door to Rome Ciampino Airport. It’s the kind of villa in the Roman countryside you imagine owning if you ever won the lottery. Bond also gets himself into a car chase in the next couple of scenes and he even manages to swing by some other top Rome attractions mid-chase like the Colosseum and St Peter’s Basilica. All in a day’s work for James!
15. Villa Aldobrandini as seen in Zoolander 2 (2016)
Where: Via Cardinal Massaia, 18, 00044
We’ve reached the final Hollywood filming location in Rome on my list! Hollywood sure does love featuring the eternal city in its movies.
Bit of an odd film to end on, but there you go. The not-very-necessary sequel to Zoolander (2001) sees the return of top male models, Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) who are now retired from the modelling business. A series of events leads them to assist Interpol with their investigation into some assassinations. Derek is also persuaded to reconnect with his son who is now bizarrely in an orphanage in Rome. Villa Aldobrandini, which is really close to Piazza Venezia, is the exterior for this orphanage.
I’ve never seen Zoolander 2 because the reviews are awful, but this brief synopsis prompts so many questions and provides so few answers. Who knows why Zoolander’s son is in a Roman orphanage? But it seems like a very nice orphanage and you don’t need to leave Rome’s city centre to visit it! A lot of Zoolander 2 is set in Rome as well as the USA.
And those are the best Hollywood film locations in Rome! Have you visited any of these Hollywood film locations in Rome or watched any of the films? Let me know in the comments below!