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Rome: The Great Beauty

Oscar-winning movie, 'La Grande Bellezza' brings life to the Eternal City.

by Lavinia Pisani

Named Best Foreign Language Film in 2014, “La Grande Bellezza” inspires travellers to go beyond the postcard version of Rome and explore the hidden corners, behind doorways and gates that too often are overlooked by visitors. Here is our selection of 7 movie locations that Director Paolo Sorrentino chose to depict the current, controversial state of the Italian capital, which despite of everything knows how to keep its beauty at centre stage.

Terme di Caracalla
Director Paolo Sorrentino presents this colossal Roman baths as a place where dreams may come true. Main character’s Jep Gabardella seems lost and surprised in the scene here, where he sees a giraffe disappear. Dating back to the third century, the baths could host up to 8,000 people per day. Today, the well-preserved soaring walls of the complex are a terra-cotta-hued skeleton, which provide clues to the lost grandeur of this glorified gym, where amenities ranged from mosaic floors to thermal pools flanked by museum-worthy marble sculptures.


Gianicolo – Buco della Serratura
The canon is featured in the opening shot of the movie, with the explosion and the applauding tourists. The Janiculum is not counted as one of the Seven Hills of Rome but it offers a spectacular view of Trastevere and the entire old city center. Not far from the terrace, on the Aventine Hill, stands another hidden gem: il buco della serratura. Here you will line up to peek through the peephole and see the framed cupola of St. Peter’s Basilica.

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Bar San Calisto
This is possibly the most symbolic and Fellini-esque scenes of the film. Shot in slow-motion, Jep enters to buy cigarettes, crosses the room and is accosted by an elderly lady in a bizarre party dress, the television switched on amid a group of old people in pyjamas... The bar is located in the heart of Trastevere and has been around for 40-years or so. Locals still enjoy gathering in the main plaza during different times of the day for coffee or drinks.

Related: 7 Most Romantic Places in Rome

National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia
In the movie it houses an exhibition by Ron Sweet and Jep doesn’t seem to be interested in it but he is fascinated by the monument and its atmosphere. Built by Pope Julius III between 1550 and 1555, Villa Giulia is a magnificent Renaissance palace known for its extensive art collections and beautiful gardens.


San Pietro in Montorio
One of the city’s best-kept secrets is revealed in the scene where Jep steps into the exquisite ‘little temple’ and peers down a little girl hiding. Designed by Bernini, the chapel features stunning artwork, frescos and courtyard. This last one was actually designed by Donato Bramante. Go from Tuesday to Saturday to find both the Church and Tempietto open.

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Marforio Statue

Located in the court yard of Palazzo Nuovo at the Capitoline Museums, Marforio is one of the six "talking statues" of Rome, and on them the Romans, from the beginning of the sixteenth century, and occasionally even today, have posted short political satires. Marforio's reproduction appears in the poster of the film "The Great Beauty", behind Jep Gambardella sat on a bench, wearing a white-yellow dress.

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