Movies set in Rome that will make you feel like you are in Rome right now!

by marta
Piazza Navona Rome

Fabulous movies set in Rome that will make you feel like you are in the city, plus the stunning Rome filiming locations to add to your Rome bucket list.

There is no better way to feel in Rome when a trip is not on the table than to put a movie on and let it transport you to the city from the comfort of your own couch.

I do this often but I am fussy about the Rome movies I choose.

The problem is that Rome while there is a plethora of movies with scenes set in Rome, only some of them truly have the power to virtually transport you into the city and even fewer manage to really capture that mix of colors, volumes and sounds (Rome has incredible, distinctive sounds: the seagulls! The sirens!) that brings the city come to life.

Some, however, do! This is my selection of the best movies set in Rome to make you feel like you are in the Eternal City, no matter where you are actually are.

For each, I have included a quick overview of the locations they cover, so you can add them your Rome bucket list!

In ‘Roma,’ I wanted to get across the idea that underneath Rome today is ancient Rome. So close. I am always conscious of that, and it thrills me. Imagine being in a traffic jam at the Coliseum! Rome is the most wonderful movie set in the world… As was the case with many of my film ideas, it was inspired by a dream” -Federico Fellini, Italian Film Director

Find more Rome inspired quotes here.

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The best movies set in Rome to pretend you are in Rome right now

Collage of 4 Rome movie location with text: the movies set in Rome that will bring Rome to your house

Roman Holiday -1953 (USA)

I open this list with Roman Holiday, which is maybe an obvious choice when it comes to the best movies set in Rome, but a move so charming and that captures Rome so well, it simply deserves to be on top!

In the movie, a young Audrey Hepburn plays an adventurous princess who escapes her royal duties for a day to experience all Rome has to offer.

She is accompanied in her adventure by an American journalist, played Gregory Peck, who chaperons her around Rome and brings her to some of the most iconic and beautiful corners of the city.

The Spanish Steps features heavily in the movie, but so does Piazza del Campidoglio, the Mouth of Truth, Castel Sant’Angelo and Piazza Venezia, the racing ground for one of the most famous scenes in the movie: the vespa ride!

The movie is still nowadays immensely charing and the choice of locations and the spontaneity of the actors truly make you feel like you are in Rome with them.

Fun fact: the film was entirely shot in Rome however, the city has partially changed since then! While most of the main locations look very much the same as back in the 50s (cars and crowds aside), one place is not there anymore: the scene at the wishing wall was shot near Viale del Policlinico but if you go there now, the votive plaques are not there anymore. They got moved to the Santuario del Divino Amore in 1960.

La Dolce Vita – 1960, Italy

Another classic Rome movie, this time by Italian director Federico Fellini, La Dolce Vita is set mostly around the area of the Trevi Fountain, at the center of the most famous scene in the whole movie: the one when Anita Ekberg walks into the fountain in a black ballgown.

Trevi Fountain in the evening with lights on

The city itself is at the heart of the narrative of the film however, it is interesting to know only some scenes have been shot around the city (the one in the Trevi fountain is one of them): others have been reconstructed in the film studios of Cinecitta’, also in Rome.

Need to know: Fontana di Trevi is one of the most beautiful and famous fountains in Rome but is it strictly prohibited to enter it!

Caro Diario – Italy, 1993

More recent than the movies above yet equally iconic for Rome lovers is the film ‘Caro Diario’ by Italian director Nanni Moretti.

The movie is organised in three episodes and only the first one I set in Rome however, I those 25 minutes you are really transported to Rome and what is best, you are transported into the real Rome, not a glamourized, airbrushed version of the city.

The light, the sounds, the soul of the city comes out and if you have already been to Rome, you will be bright straight back there!

In the movie, Nanni Moretti explores Rome on his vespa and covers quite a distance: he goes from Gianicolo to Parioli, Lungotevere, Garbatella, Casalpalocco…

You may think these locations don’t sound familiar and indeed, they don’t usually appear on Rome itineraries but they capture the soul of the city even more than the most iconic Rome locations!

Good to know: Caro Diario has been also shot on the Isole Eolie (Eolie islands), which are a stunning corner of Italy! So this is a great movie for an Italian themed night and not just a Rome-inspired one!

The Talented Mr Ripley – 1999, USA

The talented Mr Ripley is set in several parts of Italy and will probably make you want to go to Ischia and Naples before Rome: the Italian coast is just stunning in this movie!

However, I add it to this list of the best movies set in Rome because the scenes that are shot in the city are stunning and bring to you some of the most charming and beautiful of the city in that special, vintage style that is typical of this movie.

View over Roman Forum at night

My favorite is probably the view over the Roman Forum, one of the best views over Rome in real life, but the most famous scenes are those at the Spanish Steps and of course Piazza Navona, which seems to attract directors like nowhere else in the city!

The film follows the story of Mr Ripley (Matt Damon), a young man entrusted by a rich American magnate with a task: going to Italy and bring back his son, Dickie, currently living ‘la dolce vita’ in Italy instead of pursuing the career choice the family had set for him.

This task leads Ripley to the sun drenched Italian river of the 50s, where he gets to enthralled by Dickie and his lifestyle, he decided to make it his own – at any cost.

This is a brilliant film noir, with excellent actors and a wonderful ability to capture that peculiar Italian aesthetic that Positano, Capri, Ischia and, in a different way, Rome embody so well.

Le fate ignoranti, The ignorant fairies – Italy 2001

Le fate ignoranti doesn’t appear in many lists of the best movies set in Rome and I think this might be because it doesn’t cover the usual, expected locations.

Rather, it is set in the wonderful Ostiense, an area immediately outside of the historical center with interesting industrial architecture, working class vibe and tons of Roman character.

statues in Centrale Montemartini Rome

The movie follows the story of a woman who, after the death of her husband, discovers a secret life he had been hiding from her and sets to learn more about the people who inhabited it, discovering friendship, love and herself in the process, all against the background of Quartiere Ostiense!

Among the many locations, some of the most iconic and interesting are Centrale Montemartini, one of my favorite museums in Rome, with ancient arts displayed in an old industrial plant and the Gazometro, a wonderful example of industrial art and the most distinct in the area.

Angels and Demons – USA, 2009

Angles and Demons has such a gripping narrative you will not feel like you are leisurely strolling around the eternal city, like many of the movies on this list however it is shot in so many, stunning locations, it deserves a spot in this list of the best movies set in Rome!

The movie (and the book) follows the story of an American academic who discovers the resurgence of the group of the Illuminati and goes to Rome to prevent it from succeeding in their attach against the Catholic Church.

In its quest, he follows a trail around the city that leads him to several locations in and around Rome city center.

The story is strongly interlinked with that of the Church so it will come as no surprised that many of the locations are connected to the Vatican. But there is more to it than St Peters’ square!

Some of the most iconic scenes see Castel Sant’Angelo, Santa Maria del Popolo, the Pantheon and Santa Maria della Vittoria, which has one of the most incredible masterpieces by Bernini, the ‘Estasi di Santa Teresa‘ (Ecstasy of Saint Teresa).

Eat, Pray, Love – USA, 2010

Another big-stars American movie, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ makes the list because how Rome looks in it. The choice of locations is just brilliant!

At the start of the movie, writer and main character Elizabeth moves to Rome at the start of a journey, metaphorical and real, to ‘find herself’.

Rome Hotels for families cover photo: Piazza Navona

She settles in a charming and out of time apartment in Rome city center and soaks up the city, savoring its history, food and language, very much leading you with her as she lives her adventure.

It is very hard not to want to move to Rome for soul searching after you see it (same with Bali, her next destination), although you will quickly see the real Rome is a lot less stuck in the past than some scenes in the movie suggest!

The movie does a great job at mixing famous, iconic and recognizable locations such as Piazza Navona and Castel Sant’Angelo with smaller streets and dusty corners of the city, a mix that I think embodies really well Rome city center: a mix of cobbled streets and grand monuments like no other!

To Rome, with love – USA, 2012

Lighthearted, funny, clever and a little bit silly, ‘To Rome with love’ is another great Rome movie I love and that will simply transport you back to the city.

Organized in four different episodes, the movie follows different characters, Americans and Italian, in different parts of Rome.

Outstanding, in my opinion, the character played by Robert Benigni who finds himself, the quintessential common man, suddenly at the center of media attention influencer-style, and the scene, from a different episode, in Caracallas’ Bath.

The movie captures several locations in Rome, including famous and recognizable Piazza Venezia, Campidoglio, Trevi Fountain, however, what really stayed with me is the love letter that this movie is to Rome’s cobbled streets: the area of Via Margutta, Piazza Mattei and Trastevere are wonderful in this movie and will make you want to move to Via Garibaldi!

La Grande Bellezza, (The Great Beauty), Italy, 2013

If you are looking for cinematic glamour, picture-perfect Rome, then you cannot miss La Grande Bellezza, a film from 2013 by Italian director Paolo Sorrentino.

View of the outside of the Colosseum Rome

Rome in the movie is quite simply stunning, its opulent beauty being not just a background to the movie but the really essence if it for all it is, seems and hides.

In movie follows its main character, Jep, a successful journalist critic in Rome who, on turning 65, thinks back about his life and career in the city.

His reflections center among the opulent lifestyle and friends and its meaning (or lack thereof): the whole movie is set against the backdrop of the most opulent and visually striking side of Rome you can imagine and uses the city not as a setting but rather a symbol of this quest.

The movie is a feast for the eye and will envelop you in ‘great beauty’: if you have never been to Rome, this will be that ‘wow’ moment that makes you want to go.

Among the most beautiful shots, it is easy to recognize Gianicolo, Piazza Navona, Parco degli Aquedotti, Caracalla’s baths, Trevi Fountains and the Colosseum, which you can even eye from the house of the protagonist.

How to create the perfect Rome movie night at home

Looking to add a little more fun to you Rome movie night?

I like to do it making a Rome dinner first (bruschetta, carbonara and veal saltimbocca) and then set up the living room theatre style!

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I hope you enjoyed this overview of the best movies set in Rome for a Rome film night at home!

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