Rome has long been a playground to some of Hollywood’s biggest A listers. And it isn’t uncommon to spot a celebrity whilst walking around the city.
This may just be because Rome isn’t just a playground for the rich and famous, but where a lot of Hollywood’s biggest actors come to work.
In fact some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters have been made right here in the Eternal City and they are still continuing to do so this very day!
You see, Rome is home to Italy’s famous Cinecittà Studios. The studios were founded in 1937 by Rome’s infamous dictator Benito Mussolini to boost the Italian feature film industry and are located not far out of the city center.ƒ
During the golden years of Hollywood, American companies profited from the cheap labor available in Rome, which meant that Cinecittà Studios produced the likes of such films as ‘Ben Hur’, ‘Helen of Troy’ and even the classic ‘Cleopatra’ starring Elizabeth Taylor. However even with the cheap labor, ‘Cleopatra’ turned out to be the most expensive film ever to be made at the time, almost bankrupting 20th Century Fox, with its lavish costumes, extravagant sets and thousands of extras working overtime.
Even more recently, the film studios in Rome have been home to a number of high profile movies, including Martin Scorsese’s ‘Gangs of New York’, Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ’, ‘Ocean’s Twelve’, ‘Everest’ and the widely popular HBO television series ‘Rome’.
A lot of these famous sets are still standing today and its well worth a visit out to Cinecittà whilst you are in Rome. They are nothing short of spectacular. The studios have only recently opened their doors to the general public and also have a large collection of costumes on display, as well as props dating back to the 1950s.
As you wander through the back lot today, you may even spot the likes of Morgan Freeman or Jack Huston who are currently shooting the remake of ‘Ben-Hur’ on the exact same sound stages where the original was shot 56 years ago.
It not hard to see why Hollywood would want to film in Rome, for most of the year the weather is amazing, you have stunning scenery, diverse landscapes and all within a few miles of each other you have the rolling hills, the ancient city and the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean.
When walking the streets of Rome, you may often feel as if you are on the set of an actual movie, as you recognize streets and piazzas made more famous by the stars themselves that walked there before you.
I know when I’m passing the Trevi fountain, its hard not to visualize the stunning Anita Ekberg in her famous black dress wading through the water calling out to her lover ‘Marcello’ in the romantic scene of the 1960’s classic ‘La dolce vita’.
This famous scene was also more recently recreated by legendary actors Shirley Maclaine and Christopher Plumber for a scene in the remake of ‘Elsa & Fred’.
Or maybe whilst you’re sitting on the Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna enjoying a gelato, you may be in fact sitting on the exact same step as Audrey Hepburn did in her iconic role as Princess Anne in ‘Roman Holiday’, her very first feature film.
In fact Audrey herself fell so in love with Rome during the making of ‘Roman Holiday’ that she ended up coming back to live in the eternal city for around 20 years after marrying an Italian Doctor and having her second son who still lives here today.
Even this year, Rome has been home to some of Hollywood’s biggest names as they have been filming the latest James Bond movie ‘Spectre’ throughout the city.
It wasn’t uncommon to spot a spectacle of people lined up along the banks of the Tiber River as the crew prepared for some of the movies famous car racing scenes.
In fact rumor has it, that even Pope Francis got in on the action, as he watched from the Vatican windows, as Daniel Craig raced passed St. Peters Square in his Aston Martin.
Even I recall on my way to work, early one morning stumbling across Ben Stiller, dressed as his ‘Derek Zoolander’ character whilst they were shooting in the city center for his upcoming ‘Zoolander 2’ movie. You just never know who you may run into.
Another popular film shot around the city of Rome was the prequel/sequel to Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’ titled ‘Angels & Demons’ starring Tom Hanks. The locations featured in the film, have become very popular with tourists, eager to see where the scenes took place, as well discover the real secret places featured in the book. Through Eternity offer a Angels & Demons tour which visits some of the main sites encountered in the book as well as the movie.
So whether you want to be apart of the action or happen to spot your favorite star around the city, you should keep your eyes peeled and listen out for when the director calls ‘Action!’ as may just find yourself on the big screen as an extra whilst walking the streets of Rome.
– By David Dodd –