Jump on Audrey Hepburn’s Vespa for a Roman Holiday

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May 31, 2017

by STEVE MCKENNA, Writer

Starring Audrey Hepburn in her breakout role, this romance plays out in the ever-enchanting Eternal City.

After flying visits to London, Amsterdam and Paris, Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) arrives in Rome on the latest leg of her European goodwill tour. Jaded by her royal engagements, Her Majesty flees the confines of her palatial embassy to roam the beautiful Italian capital incognito.

While some scenes were shot at the city’s famous Cinecittà studio, many were filmed on location – including the Roman Forum, where the crumbling ruins provided a bewitching backdrop for the princess’s first encounter with Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), the handsome American reporter with whom she enjoys her serendipitous “Roman holiday”.

Some of the movie’s most iconic imagery sees the couple zipping around the hilly streets of Rome on a Vespa. Whether you prefer a guided scooter tour or the self-ride option (bicibaci.com), you can follow suit. Jostle with the traffic as you whiz past the landmarks they saw – including the magnificent Colosseum, where gladiators once battled, and Altare della Patria, a mighty marble monument honouring Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of a unified Italy.

Prefer to cover the locations on foot? Most are within walking distance of each other, especially the sweeping Spanish Steps, where Ann savoured a gelato, and Piazza della Rotonda, where she ordered Champagne (and he “cold coffee”) at G Rocca. Although this terrace café is no more, nearby Di Rienzo Ristorante al Pantheon offers a similar experience with its views of the Pantheon, a former temple and Rome’s most well-preserved ancient building.

Have fun re-enacting another smile-raising scene at Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth), a marble mask of the sea god Oceanus that is said to bite off the hands of liars. (Ann and Joe had both, incidentally, been concealing their real identities.) This ancient oddity is hidden in a portico of the medieval Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin, at the western end of the Forum. Come early – say, 9.30am – to avoid the queues. 

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