As far as Audrey Hepburn movies go, Breakfast at Tiffany's gets all the glory. But for our money, it doesn't get more romantic than Roman Holiday. In case you need a little refresher, the film tells the story of Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn in her first starring role), royalty from an unnamed country who—while in Rome—grows tired of the constant attention and pressure of her duties. She craves anonymity and finds it when a stranger wakes her up on a bench at night, an American journalist named Joe (Gregory Peck) who is on assignment to cover the visit of—you guessed it—Princess Ann.
Though their motivations and true identities remain a bit of mystery to each other, the pair begin falling for one another as they travel side by side, taking in the famous sights of Rome. The first American film fully shot in Italy, Roman Holiday won three Academy Awards and lives on as one of the true classics of American cinema. It’s one of the most influential romantic comedy films and one that still impacts the genre to this day.
Director William Wyler presents Rome in beautiful black-and-white, but you can recreate Princess Ann and Joe’s love affair in the beautiful colors of the Eternal City with your soulmate by following our trusty guide. Here, our guide to a Roman Holiday honeymoon.
Where to Stay
Joe’s apartment is located at 51 Via Margutta, a quaint street that’s nestled in between the Spanish Steps and Piazza Del Popolo. A bed and breakfast is operated at the property, so you can stay in the same location where Joe and Ann spent their first night together (or, more accurately, where Ann zonked out and stole Joe’s bed right out from under him). There are many other options in the area, too, thanks to its proximity to the Spanish Steps, home to one of the film’s most famous scenes and a must-see, and some of Rome’s best shopping. Right nearby are two options from Rome Luxury Suites, one located at 54 Via Margutta and one at 19 Via Margutta, both offering a comfortable, modern, chic hideout for your Rome stay. And you have access to the rooftop bar and restaurant just a short stroll away at one of their additional properties, located at 181 Via Babuino. It’s a great place to grab a cocktail as the sun sets over Rome.
Where to Go
After spending the night at Joe’s, Ann heads out on the town alone, soaking in the pleasure of walking around without any responsibility. She cuts her hair to ensure that she won’t get recognized, but Joe, who has promised his editor a one-on-one interview with the princess, keeps tabs on Ann. They “bump into each other” and Joe convinces her to spend some time with him, so we follow along as they see some of Rome’s most famous historical sites (often via Vespa—feel free, we totally recommend it!):
It’s one of the most popular landmarks in the world and any visit to Rome is incomplete without seeing for yourself. Princess Ann and Joe famously approach it on their Vespa, with the towering arena and its instantly-recognizable arches and stone columns in the background. They head inside and get a brief tour of where Romans gathered to watch the brutal fights.
Constructed in the mid 1600s, the fountain has become a must-stop for tourists in Rome. You’ll find people—and trust us, there can often be a lot of people there—throwing coins into the fountain for good luck (proper form is with the right hand over the left shoulder, back facing the fountain). The shop where Ann got her hair cut is no longer in business, but definitely chisel off some time to see this Baroque masterpiece (see what we did there?).
Mouth of Truth
Located in the Santa Maria in the Cosmedin Church, conveniently located near Circus Maximus and the Roman Forum, the Mouth of Truth is one of Rome’s landmarks that actually became more famous because of Roman Holiday. The stone carving depicts a human face with an open slot for a mouth. Legend has it that the mouth will bite off the hand of liars, hence the name. It’s home to a famous scene from the movie—Joe sticks his hand in and pretends it’s been bitten off. Recreate this famous scene at your own risk.
Castel Sant’Angelo/Tiber River
Princess Ann’s barber invites her to a night of dancing on a barge on the Tiber River. What ensues is a fracas in which Ann hilariously uses a guitar to defend herself, just under the famous Castel Sant’Angelo that sits above the river bank. The St. Angelo bridge that connects pedestrians across the river offers a beautiful photo op, with the architectural marvel the perfect background. It’s a great stop on the way to the Vatican City if that’s in your plans.
Where to Eat
After getting her hair cut, Ann goes with Joe and his photographer buddy Irving to get a bite to eat and a drink at Caffe Rocca, at the foot of Piazza Della Rotondo which houses the Pantheon. While the Caffe isn’t there anymore, there are many options for food along the Piazza, as well as the nearby Piazza Navona where Ann, Joe, and Irving roamed, and the atmosphere is still the same. La Sagrestia, right off of Piazza Della Rotondo, is a cozy, casual place with excellent pizza. The Trattoria Dai Tri Amici sits just behind the Pantheon and has some of the best authentic Italian food for the price in this high-traffic tourist area. As a bonus “Tre Amici” translates to “three friends," invoking that well-known Caffe Rocca scene.