I hadn’t seen Roman Holiday (1953) before my trip to Rome in May/June last year. Now I have, I realise all the Roman Holiday filming locations read like a guidebook of all Rome’s top attractions. I don’t believe that Rome hosts millions of English-speaking tourists every year just because it’s historic and beautiful (though it is). It’s got to be because Roman Holiday and other films have turned it into a can’t-miss holiday destination.
Heck, I’d go anywhere Audrey Hepburn goes.
In Roman Holiday, the classic actress plays Princess Anne, a member of an undisclosed European royal family. She is on a tour of Western European capital cities and Rome is next on the schedule. She’s feeling overwhelmed and itching to explore a normal life. After escaping from her embassy and wandering around, her sleeping pills kick in and an American journo by the name of Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) reluctantly rescues her and puts her to bed. The next morning when he realises she’s a Princess, he spends the whole day being her personal tour guide in the hopes of scoring an exclusive interview. Little does he know he’s going to get a lot more than that…
Roman Holiday is the quintessential film you should watch if you’re visiting Rome. Sure, I’ve written filming location guides for Angels and Demons (2009), Eat Pray Love (2010) and To Rome with Love (2012), but this one is the OG. So let’s check out my detailed list of all the Roman Holiday filming locations in Rome complete with map!
Roman Holiday Filming Locations in Rome
1. St Peter’s Square, 00120, Vatican City
Roman Holiday opens with a stunning view over St Peter’s Square in Vatican City. You can achieve a similar viewpoint by climbing up the hundreds of steps in the sweaty Roman heat to St Peter’s Basilica dome.
St Peter’s Basilica is also featured during the ‘Paramount News Flash’ of Princess Anne’s visit to the top European capital cities.
Angels and Demons (2009) is set in Vatican City and it’s a must-watch before you visit. I’ve also written a blog post of all the top Angels and Demons filming locations in Rome and Vatican City.
2. Altar of the Fatherland, Piazza Venezia, 00186
3. Ponte Sant’Angelo, 00186
The next location featured in the Roman Holiday opening credits is the Ponte Sant’Angelo. It’s a bridge leading to Castel Sant’Angelo (which can be seen briefly in this shot) and this shot is famously taken from the Ponte Umberto I bridge.
4. Colosseum, Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184
One of the only Roman Holiday filming locations which require no introduction is the Colosseum. One of the seven wonders of the modern world and the top attraction in Rome. You can only see a small section of it in this quite opening credits shot, though.
Later on in Roman Holiday, Joe Bradley takes the Princess to the Colosseum on the back of a Vespa.
5. Arch of Septimus Severus, Via dell’Arco di Settimio, 00186
A short walk from the Colosseum is the Arch of Septimus Severus near the Roman Forum. The Roman Forum can be seen in the background of the shot in Roman Holiday. At this point, the credits proudly proclaim the entire film was shot in Rome. Which is pretty impressive for 1953! The studio scenes were even shot in Cinecittà Studios which aren’t just Rome’s primary film studios but also the biggest film studios in Europe.
6. Monument to St Francis of Assisi, Piazza di Porta San Giovanni, 00185
This next shot was a little harder to track down! The statue featured in the opening credits is a Monument to St Francis of Assisi facing the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano. It’s also featured in the next opening credits/montage shot, just more of a close-up. This basilica is actually the ‘cathedral’ of Rome, not St Peter’s Basilica and has extra-territorial privileges. Which means even though the Basilica is situated in Rome, once you step foot inside you’re actually in Vatican City!
7. Piazza del Popolo, 00187
And the final shot of the opening credits is of Piazza del Popolo! You can tell because of the lion head in the fountain, and also because it’s one of the most famous piazzas in Rome. There is that, too.
8. Palazzo Barberini, Via Delle Quattro Fontane, 13, 00187
Now let’s get into the proper Roman Holiday filming locations! Princess Anne has arrived in Rome and she’s staying at ‘her country’s embassy’ (her nationality remains ambiguous throughout the film). The exterior of the embassy is Palazzo Barberini, a beautiful former Roman palace.
9. Palazzo Colonna, Via Della Pilotta, 17, 00187
And the interiors of her embassy were shot at Palazzo Colonna! Which we see next during her welcome ball. The press conference, a scene much later in the film, was shot at Palazzo Colonna’s Sala Grande Galleria.
Palazzo Brancaccio may have also been utilised for some interior shots (or maybe when she’s escaping her bedroom at the embassy) but I can’t say for certain.
10. Piazza Della Reppublica, Piazza Della Repubblica, 00185
Once Princess Anne has decided to escape, she hops into the back of a van that’s just about to leave the embassy. She disembarks the van in Piazza Della Reppublica.
11. Via dell’Arco di Settimio, 00186
After journalist Joe Bradley leaves his poker game, he finds a woman asleep on top of a small wall. Some sites would have you believe she’s asleep on a bench on Via dei Fori Imperiali but she definitely isn’t. If you go to Via dell’Arco di Settimio you should be able to find the exact Roman Holiday filming location no problem. It’s only a small street and you just need to head to wherever the tourists are going for a fantastic view over the Roman Forum.
It’s quite clear where the film location is because Arch of Septimus Severus near the Roman Forum can be seen in the background, which is the Arch from the opening credits. No traffic is allowed on this street, it’s all pedestrianised.
12. Via Margutta, 51, 00187
Unable to make sense of Princess Anne’s ramblings, Joe takes her to his home rather than leave her asleep outside. The address he gives the taxi driver is Via Margutta, 51 which is exactly where the filming location is! It looked a little different when I visited the location in May last year…
Via Margutta is a famous street for another reason. The famed Italian director Federico Fellini also lived there!
13. Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Trevi, 00187
Princess Anne leaves Joe Bradley’s apartment and decides to take a little stroll through the hustle and bustle of Rome. She happens upon the Trevi Fountain, one of the most popular attractions to visit in Rome.
The fountain also features as a filming location in To Rome with Love (2012).
14. Via Della Stamperia, 85, 00187
This address was a barbershop and it’s where the Princess cuts her hair into a brand new, modern style. Today, Via Della Stamperia is a handbag/wallet store.
15. Spanish Steps, Piazza di Spagna, 00187
Next on the list of top Roman landmarks that are also Roman Holiday filming locations is the Spanish Steps. Princess Anne is still strolling along and Joe is still following her. I love it when you watch a film that’s over 60 years old and the filming locations basically haven’t changed! The Spanish Steps look exactly the same today. I guess that’s the beauty of Rome, right? It is the eternal city after all!
16. Café Rocco, Via Della Rotonda, 25, 00186
After Joe catches up to Anne on the Spanish Steps, he lures her to Café Rocco where he knows his photographer friend is hanging out. The café is on Via Della Rotonda which just happens to be mere metres from the Pantheon and you can clearly see the Pantheon in the film.
Nowadays, the café is a clothing store.
17. Via del Teatro di Marcello, 00186
Possibly the most iconic of all the Roman Holiday filming locations! Joe Bradley and Princess Anne ride on the back of a classic Italian Vespa down Via del Teatro di Marcello. It’s the most iconic because this shot is featured on all the posters and promotional material and is even on my DVD cover.
You can see Piazza Venezia in the background of this shot. In a couple of scenes, Anne will accidentally start up the Vespa in this piazza and Joe quickly hops too.
18. Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Piazza Della Bocca Della Verità, 18, 00186
Bradley tells Anne the story that the ‘Mouth of Truth’ eats the hands of liars. When in reality, the stone was probably put there to cover a water source. Today, the ‘Mouth of Truth’ is very popular so if you want a photo, bring a friend and be prepared to line up! I travelled to Rome solo and I couldn’t be bothered to queue, but next time…
19. Viale del Policlinico
This next location is definitely still in Rome but not quite the same. Joe takes Anne to a wall full of fulfilled wishes written down on tablets and then posted on the wall which started during WWII. So it looks a bit like a shrine.
Today, it’s a very uninteresting site as it’s just a wall next to the very busy main road, Corso d’Italia.
20. Castel Sant’Angelo, Lungotevere Castello, 50, 00193
Earlier in the day, Anne’s barber invited her to a dance on a barge outside of Castel Sant’Angelo at 21:00 and of course today is her Roman holiday and a day of doing things she wouldn’t normally, so here we are! The barge is literally right outside of the castle. I don’t think these barge parties exist anymore if they ever did. The river Tiber would be overrun with barge parties if they were allowed!
And afterwards, Joe takes the Princess back to the embassy and they meet again one last time at her press conference. How romantic!
And those are the top Roman Holiday filming locations in Rome! Have you watched Roman Holiday or visited Rome? Let me know in the comments below!