Comfortable temperatures and ample sunshine means that April and May are the best months to visit Rome, with the spring weather perfectly suited to whiling away the hours sightseeing, leisurely walks by the Tiber and enjoying the famous Roman cuisine al fresco.
Aside from Rome’s many historical, artistic and culinary attractions, the city’s movie connections make for a fun tour, exploring the setting of famous films such as “To Rome with Love”, “The Great Beauty” and “Angels and Demons”.
Angels and Demons — Illuminati Rome
Although it has been 13 years since the premiere of the film based on Dan Brown’s books, you can still meet plenty of “Angels and Demons” enthusiasts on the history-filled streets of Rome. Just like the characters in the movie, they are searching for traces of the infamous illuminati — an association of free thinkers founded by Galileo and Lorenzo Bernini. It is alleged that there are hidden clues leading to the Church of Illumination — the secret hideout of the Illuminati — in the many sculptures and buildings designed by Bernini.
Your goal is to find the so-called “altars of science”, related to the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water, where kidnapped cardinals were allegedly murdered. Walk the path of enlightenment to visit some of Rome’s most famous attractions, the majority of which are free to enter. Starting at the Pantheon, where Raphael Santi’s tomb is located, you can discover the earth altar at the Church of Santa Maria Del Popolo. Move on to the air altar at St. Peters in Vatican City before looking for the fire altar in the Church of Santa Maria Della Vittoria. Finally, the water altar can be found at Bernini’s Four Rivers Fountain in Piazza Navona before heading to the Church of the Illuminati, also known as the Castle of the Holy Angel, which can be accessed via a secret passage from the Vatican City named Passetto di Borgo.
The Great Beauty — Rome’s Relaxed Side
Awarded the “Best Foreign Film” Oscar in 2013, “The Great Beauty” by Paolo Sorrentino is your perfect inspiration for a romantic trip around the Italian capital’s most picturesque corners. Art historian Costantino D’Orazio describes three routes that lead through the film’s locations, where the characters Jep, Orietta, Viola, Ramona, Maria and many others had fun, grieved, and loved. With each route taking two-three hours, you have plenty of time to complete them all!
The first tour leads you through charming, crowded squares, inconspicuous tenement houses and even to palaces. It also features one of the Eternal City’s most beautiful panoramas. Amongst the buildings you’ll see on your walk, you’ll find Palazzo dei Penitenzieri in Via della Conciliazione, Palazzo Sacchetti in Via Giulia, Palazzo Taverna in Via di Monte Giordano and Palazzo Altemps in Piazza di Sant’Apollinare. You should also visit the famous Piazza Navona, where you will see Palazzo Pamphilj and the Church of Chiesa Sant’Agnese in Agone. Then, head to Palazzo Braschi in Piazza di S. Pantaleo, Palazzo Spada in Vicolo del Polverone, and the historic Ponte Sisto Bridge before taking a break at the dell’Acqua Paola fountain in Via Garibaldi to admire the sunset on Janiculum Hill.
The Talented Mr. Ripley — Tourist Rome
Anthony Minghella’s 1999 sees Matt Damon, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett and Gwyneth Paltrow strolling and scooting their way around Roman streets. The movie perfectly illustrates the urge to travel along with the joy of life in Rome. Protagonist Tom ends up in the city as the result of a series of mistakes, but falls madly in love with it. Although the movie was produced all over Italy, Rome was rightfully given centre stage. If you’d like to visit the places that Tom, Dick, Marge and Meredith saw then you’ll need comfortable shoes as you’re in for a lot of walking!
As befits a film intended for an international audience, Minghella’s work focuses on Rome’s many recognisable attractions. The characters spend time at the Roman Forum — Rome’s oldest square — as well as on the crowded Piazza Navona. They frequently meet at the world-famous Spanish Steps, which measure 138 steps at 125 metres long. They also visit the Capitoline Museums, Ponte Sant’Angelo, and Castel Sant’Angelo, along with the Turtle Fountain at Mattei Square. Location shots feature the charming Caffè Latino on Via di Monte Testaccio, the Dior boutique on Via dei Condotti, the aqueduct at Parco Degli Acquedotti on Via Lemonia and the Vicolo Delle Grotte, where Tom crashed his scooter.
To Rome with Love – Authentic Rome
Woody Allen’s movies are often set in large cities, with stories taking place in Barcelona, New York, Paris — and Rome. In 2012, the critically acclaimed film “To Rome with Love” was shot here and, even though it has been a decade since the movie’s premiere, you can still visit all its most important locations, Rome wasn’t built in a day and hasn’t changed that fast! To fall in love with the “capital of the world” like John, Jack, Sally, and Monica did, you should begin with Rome’s most famous attractions. The Baths of Caracalla, Vatican City, the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain will surely delight any first-time visitors. For those more familiar with the city or who prefer “dolce far niente”, aka the sweet art of doing nothing, Allen’s movie provides plenty of inspiration, as it was shot in 69 locations across the city!
Experience everyday Italian life with a walk along the streets of Trastevere, a popular district with the city’s inhabitants. Here, you will find the liveliest restaurants, wine bars, and cafes alongside small vegetable stalls, hairdressers, and tenement houses overgrown with vines — the epitome of slow living. Although an increasing number of tourists come to Trastevere every year, it is still very much an area for local Italians. You can also go to the bustling Piazza del Popolo Square, close to the Terazza del Pincio viewpoint and to the famous Villa Borghese art gallery. In his film, Allen also captured the hustle of Rome’s largest train station – Termini.