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Roman Holiday: A Cinematic Introduction to the City’s Architecture

All-Day Program with Special “Guest Stars” Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck

Saturday, June 10, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Code: 1M2904

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Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in the 1953 film Roman Holiday

Few Hollywood movies are more beloved than Roman Holiday, William Wyler’s 1953 romantic comedy that was filmed entirely on location in Rome. In an offbeat and entertaining overview of the Eternal City’s architecture, independent scholar and Rome expert George Sullivan integrates slides with extensive clips from the movie. Sullivan follows the cinematic adventures of Audrey Hepburn and costar Gregory Peck around the city, stopping the film at each famous site to provide architectural commentary. The Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, and the Castel Sant’ Angelo—Roman Holiday visits them all, and more. What better company could you possibly want as you spend a day exploring the architecture of one of the world’s greatest cities?

9:30 - 10:45 a.m.  The Princess Escapes

Visiting Rome for the first time, the impetuous Princess Ann goes on the lam, ditching her royal handlers and finding her late-night way into the company of Joe Bradley, an American reporter looking for a scoop. Stops along the way: St. Peter’s Square, the Roman Forum and the Basilica of Maxentius (with short detours to the Baths of Caracalla and S. Maria degli Angeli), the Trevi Fountain.

11 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.  The Princess on the Loose

The next day, Joe and a photographer friend escort the Princess—who thinks she has not been recognized—around Rome, taking surreptitious photographs as they explore the city. Stops along the way: the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, the Theater of Marcellus, the Colosseum.

12:15 - 1:30 p.m.  Lunch (participants provide their own).

1:30 - 2:45 p.m.  The Wild Ride and the Police Station

A wild Vespa ride causes a minor riot, and everyone ends up at the police station.  Stops along the way: the Vittorrio Emmanuele Monument, Il Gesu (with short detours to S. Giovanni a Porta Latina and S. Agostino), the Campidoglio (with a short detour to the Palazzo Farnese), the Piazza della Bocca della Verità (including the Temple of Hercules Victor, the Temple of Portunus, the Arch of Janus, and the Casa Crescenzi), S. Maria in Cosmedin (including the Mouth of Truth).

3 - 4:15 p.m.  Dancing, Capture, and Goodbye

When Joe and Princess Ann go dancing, she is recognized. A melee ensues, and she ultimately returns to her handlers. The next day, the Princess says a poignant goodbye to Joe and Rome. Stops along the way:  the Castel Sant’ Angelo, the Tempietto, St. Peter’s, and the Piazza Navona.

Sullivan is the author of Not Built in a Day: Exploring the Architecture of Rome (Da Capo Press).

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit


S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)