Is there a better city to visit than Rome for film lovers? Maybe Paris, there are quite a few things to do there for film fans, more arthouse cinemas and famous graves maybe, but Rome is a very close second. It is a UNESCO City of Cinema, after all.
There are almost too many fun and filmy things to do in Rome. There’s an annual film festival, so many historic cinemas to check out and far, far too many filming locations in Rome to visit in one trip. Every street corner, every old ancient Roman aqueduct and every backstreet bar seems to have been immortalised on screen at one point or another. But that’s what happens when you’re such a historic, photogenic city like Rome. Filmmakers just can’t stop raving about you.
Check out my film lover’s guide to Rome featuring basically all of the film-related things to do in Rome for movie fans.
Rome for Film Lovers
1. Check out the top Rome filming locations
I’m willing to bet that the whole reason you decided to visit the eternal city is that you watched a film set in Rome and felt compelled to visit, am I right? Whether it’s the Mouth of Truth from Roman Holiday (1953), any of the restaurants or cafés in Eat Pray Love (2010) or the many religious sites around Rome and Vatican City that are mentioned in Angels and Demons (2009), Rome boasts some pretty great filming locations.
Luckily for you, I’ve written some pretty extensive Rome filming location guides. You can check them all out or just have a look at one or two favourites. I always include maps, addresses and photos in my guides.
Read my blog posts on Rome’s top filming locations:
2. Watch a movie (or two) at Rome’s independent cinemas
It seems like watching films at the cinema is something that Romans like to do a lot, especially considering how many of them there are dotted about the city. There are tonnes of mainstream, multiplex cinemas as well as arthouse and independent cinemas screening all kinds of films, from world cinema to classic Italian movies.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to watch any films in one of Rome’s independent cinemas but there are at least 13 really good ones. On my next visit, at the very least I’d definitely check out Casa del Cinema in Villa Borghese and Cinema Farnese which is the oldest cinema in Rome. There are so many good ones! I wrote a guide to some of the best independent cinemas in Rome which you can find here.
3. Discover new films at Rome Film Fest
Although Rome is Italy’s capital city, Venice film festival is by far the premiere film festival in the country. Rome Film Fest was founded only 13 years ago in 2006 and is a much more laid-back, welcoming and unpretentious film festival. It’s held every October for around 10 days and even though it is less ‘prestigious’, it’s still has a great programme, a red carpet, panel sessions, everything you would expect from a major film festival.
The main hub of the film festival is at the Auditorium Parco Della Musica which is a pretty spectacular venue, too.
4. Visit famed Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini’s home
One of the best things to do in Rome for film lovers, true film lovers, is to visit Federico Fellini’s former Roman residence. There’s a little plaque so you should be able to find the correct apartment.
Fellini lived at Via Margutta, 110 which is a really pretty, surprisingly quiet street near Piazza del Popolo. He lived there with his wife, Giulietta Masina until his death in 1993. There is no exaggerating how much Rome affected Fellini’s films and how much Fellini affected Rome. As a non-native Roman, Fellini clearly saw things that others didn’t and his interpretations of many sides of Roman life transcribed themselves into Fellini’s films. Rome has seen many filmmakers honing their craft on its streets but none have made as much of an impression as Fellini.
Insider tip: Just down the street at Via Margutta, 51 you’ll find another famous Rome filming location in Roman Holiday. This is where Gregory Peck’s Journalist lives.
5. And all the Roman bars where Fellini and Pasolini used to frequent
As I said, Fellini made an impression on Rome! And there are a few bars connected to Fellini and other filmmakers, actors, etc. around the city.
Bar Canova on Piazza del Popolo has it’s own little Fellini museum/shrine because he frequented the bar so often. There are even rumours that he had his own little office in the back. But it seems to have had a complete refresh since the Fellini years. Harry’s Bar on the glitzy Via Veneto hosted several film industry titans back in the day and has walls adorned with photos of every so-called Italian celebrity you can think of, including Marcello Mastroianni who starred in the Fellini film La Dolce Vita (1960).
Hotel Eden is where Fellini used to hold press interviews, and Hotel Hassler Roma is where Audrey Hepburn stayed during the filming of Roman Holiday. They have a ‘golden book’ which must be some kind of guest book filled with comments from the rich and famous over the years.
Another major Roman filmmaker, Pier Paolo Pasolini, lived in the Pigneto neighbourhood in Rome and drank at the Necci dal 1924 which is still open today. And if you’re not sufficiently hammered after visiting all of those bars, apparently Freni e Frizoni in the Trastevere neighbourhood has a film-themed cocktail menu.
Phew, that’s a lot of bars.
6. Book a filming locations tour of Rome with a local guide
Because Rome is an extremely popular place for visitors, many choose to book tours and guides to skip queues and learn more about the Colosseum or St Peter’s Basilica, etc. Which makes total sense! Tours are perfect if you’re short on time and would prefer to pay an expert the money rather than do all the research yourself. And if you wanted to, there are some fantastic filming locations tours available to book in Rome, too.
First, this official Angels and Demons tour follows the path of Illumination, visiting locations mentioned in the book and the film. But I quite like the idea of this interactive Angels and Demons mystery tour where you play a character from the book/film and solve clues to unlock stories.
But if you really feel like splashing out, this all-day private Roman Holiday tour looks amazing. And don’t forget, they visit a lot of regular tourist attractions during the film so you’ll tick off a lot of places in one day! The perfect way to combine a classic Roman Holiday while experiencing some of the best things to do in Rome for film lovers.
7. Visit Cinecittà Studios & Film Museum, the largest film studio in Europe
I’m so pleased I took the time to visit the Cinecittà Studios in Rome on my last visit. Cinecittà is the largest film studios in Europe and is where so many Italian and worldwide films have been produced. It began in 1937 as a propaganda-peddling Mussolini-headed project to boost the film industry. Then after WWII, it served largely American (as well as home-grown) productions like Roman Holiday and Ben-Hur (1959) during the ‘Hollywood on the Tiber’ era.
Now, it’s still a fully working studio as well as a film museum and an absolute must-visit attraction in Rome for film lovers. I wrote a whole guide about visiting Cinecittà (including how to get there from Rome city centre) which you can read here.
8. Shop for vintage film posters and mementoes
And finally, if you’re in the market for some vintage film-posters or Hollywood mementoes/bric-a-brac (AKA useless but cool tat) then you may want to head to Libreria Altroquando. It’s actually an artsy, independent bookshop which just so happens to have a craft beer pub downstairs (can I get a YES PLEASE!) that hosts small events.
Libreria Altroquando also sells books on cinema and in all different languages so you can still find some gems in English if you’ve got the time to look for them. I cannot believe I didn’t know about this shop before visiting Rome last time. I’ll definitely make the effort to visit if I return to Rome again!
And those are the top things to do in Rome for film lovers! Would you add anything to my film lover’s guide to Rome? Let me know in the comments below!