Last night, I wasn’t surprised when I walked past Natalie Portman* on via del Babuino, a posh shopping street in Rome’s historic center. It was the day before the 67th Venice Film Festival where Portman’s film, Black Swan by director Darren Aronofsky would not just premiere but open the international event.
Why Rome? If I were a starlet about to dominate one of the most anticipated film festivals of the year, Rome would probably be my hideout just before taking the plunge in the murky water of Venice’s film culture. Rome is the logical choice for celebrities looking for a break, albeit very slight, from stalking paparazzi. Celebrities can dress down and walk virtually unnoticed in this city where “how I look” is often more important than “who You are”. However, you mustn’t forget that you’re still in Rome where la dolce vita takes precedence. In honor of stargazing at the Venice Film Festival, here are tips to living out silver screen fantasies in the Eternal City.
Hide-Out: Hotel de Russie is Rome’s divalicious address. On the via del Babuino, the de Russie has an inner courtyard, perfect for avoiding annoying flashbulbs. The bar is led by Massimo whose army of bartenders make five-star martinis, as well as creative seasonal concoctions.
Walk the Walk: Rome is a busy walking city where you are guaranteed to encounter to encounter eye candy at every pass, whether fashion, food or bi-ped. For a break from the crowds, walk via Margutta, the small street next to via del Babuino where Federico Fellini lived and where Gregory Peck brought Audrey Hepburn home in Roman Holiday. Or make your own Roman Holiday by racing vintage vespas through Rome’s side streets.
See and Be Seen: There is nothing more exciting in Rome than people watching. The 5th floor terrace at the Palazzetto peaks into Piazza di Spagna with a practically personal view of the busy square. The terrace is at the same level as the top of the steps, so the feel is dramatic and private.
Merry Make: Everyone knows that socializing in Rome revolves around the dinner table. Picking which table ronde is almost like solving an algebra word problem: how many people, what time of day, what kind of food and what do you want to see (or be seen)? When in Rome with my entourage . . .
- Dal Bolognese, supposed favorite of Federico Fellini. In warm months, you’ll want to sit outside and enjoy the variety of views- from piazza to people. Cuisine is traditional Romagnola, with perhaps the best assaggi (samples) of home-made pasta.
- Santa Lucia, in a quiet corner behind Piazza Navona, romantic as you sit on a raised piazza surrounded by trees. Cuisine is Amalfitana (southern) with a focus on fish. In October, act like the original diva by trying Julius Caesar’s favorite dish– ovuli mushrooms with shards of Parmesan cheese — or my husband’s — warm polipo salad.
Star Gaze: Though the Venice Film Festival lasts through September 11, edifying yourself lasts much longer. If the culture of the festival is what you are looking for, from September 13 to 23rd, Rome will host select films from the Venice festival as part of Da Venezia a Roma, an annual film event.
photo by Antonio Perrone Torkio
*husband will not swear on my grave that it was portman