We’re all going on a Roman holiday

Fountain di Trevi
Fountain di Trevi
Picture: Lewis Stickley/PA Wire

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The Trevi Fountain may have been deserted when Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck filmed their iconic scenes in Roman Holiday, but today, the cosy square where the Baroque masterpiece resides is awash with tourists.

I gently squeeze my way through the crowd to reach the fountain wall and toss a coin backwards over my shoulder into the water, wishing – as custom requires – that one day I’ll return to the Eternal City.

Who knows whether the legend’s true, and the coin-fling will guarantee another visit, but thousands give it a go every day – and it’s certainly worth a shot.

When 1953’s Roman Holiday was released, Peck was already a Hollywood big-shot, but it was the then relatively unknown Audrey Hepburn’s performance as the frustrated and spirited Princess Ann which stole the show.

The striking 24-year-old picked up her first major award the following year, a Best Actress Oscar in 1954, and she remains one of the most iconic names in silver screen history.

But Hepburn wasn’t the only beauty in the picture that movie-goers fell in love with.

Rome itself, where the film was shot, was just as much a star. Its ancient monuments and lively streets provide a captivating backdrop as Ann and Joe Bradley (Peck) fall in love over the course of 24 hours.

Six decades have passed since director William Wyler captured his leading lady as she tucked into gelato on the Spanish Steps, indulged in a spot of sightseeing at the Colosseum and danced on a river boat alongside Castel Sant’Angelo.

Like Princess Ann, I’m eager for an authentic experience, so staying in a real Italian home, rather than a hotel, is ideal.

HouseTrip offers houses, villas and apartments across the globe. My apartment has a roof terrace, the perfect spot to enjoy a glass of vino.

Princess Ann proved that you can pack a lot of adventure into a short stay; mine begins with a vintage Vespa tour.

It’s a great way to get a feel for the city, and zipping around on the back of the shiny scooter with a loopy grin plastered to my face, I really am living by the old adage, ‘When in Rome... ’

One of Ann’s wishes was to lunch at a sidewalk cafe. Visitors are spoilt for choice, if you fancy a side of people-watching with your meal. I treat myself to some A-list-standard seafood at Ristorante Pierluigi, where lucky diners really do get the star treatment (and you may even spot celebs).

On day one, I book a walking tour with Context Travel ( contexttravel.com/city/rome). Nina, who works as an archaeologist when not guiding, shows me where to find the best vintage shops (Via del Boschetto) and most delicious chocolates (La Bottega del Cioccolato).

Afterwards, it’s a gentle stroll towards Vatican City to take in St Peter’s Basilica, before heading home along the river via Castel Sant’Angelo. There’s a monument or important building at every turn.

On day two, with hours ahead, I’m free to amble dreamily, stopping to soak up the atmosphere as I pass through Piazza del Popolo, a short stroll from my apartment, and fit in little detours whenever I spot an interesting street.

From here, walking to the Colosseum on the other side of the city – taking in hotspots like the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Victor Emmanuel monument and the Imperial Forum – takes just a couple of hours.

That leaves plenty of time to play spot the designer label in the famous shopping district, Via dei Condotti, and, of course, refuel for the walk back with another scoop of gelato.
HouseTrip has more than 4000 rentals currently listed in Rome, ranging from £10 to £2,482 per night. Visit housetrip.com/en/rome