A Day of La Dolce Vita

Things to Do, What's New — By Erica Firpo on February 18, 2011 at 11:40 am

This week’s guest writer Gillian McGuire, the source behind Gillian’s Lists, upbeat and informative lists of things to do in cosmopolitans around the world from her experience as ex-pat, traveler and writer, with more than 20 years living full-time in west and southern Africa and Italy.  Gillian is featured in Beyond Borders, and can  be found on Twitter as @gmcguireinrome. For Rome Local Flavor, Gillian has create Dolce Vita Day in Rome, a list inspired Federico Fellini‘s famed film.


Federico Fellini is not fiction.  Rome today is just as full of beauty and chaos and everyday life as the Rome captured in the iconic films, especially La Dolce Vita.  Though it may be impossible to experience Rome in one day, a small taste of la dolce vita can easily be had in a morning, afternoon or evening, or all three.   Faithful Fellini fans will tell you to begin your day the way Fellini did with cappuccino at the Cafe Canova, one of two historic cafes in Piazza del Popolo and Fellini’s preferred watering hole.  Inside is small gallery with photographs and Fellini sketches.  Head down the via del Babuino and around the corner to Number 110 Via Margutta, where you can find a small plaque identifying Fellini’s apartment.

Not quite a helicopter….

The 2nd most iconic scene in La Dolce Vita was Jesus flying over  St. Peter’s Square, via helicopter,  so if you have a bored child in your midst, try a quasi-re-enactment at GianLorenzo Bernini’s ingenious optical illusion in the piazza.  The colonnade is composed of 284 columns and 88 pillars in a quadruple row that disappear when you stand on spot marked by a brass disc.  Then climb the 320 steps to the top of cupola for a bird’s eye view of the city.

Of Movie Stars and Paparazzi . . .

The heady days of movie stars and paparazzi is long gone on the Via Veneto, but a quick stop at the Cafe de Paris hints at past glamor.   And then walk down to the Trevi Fountain— site of La Dolce Vita’s emblematic scene– and enjoy a sweeping secret view of the fontana all to yourself and with a glass of prosecco at the Hotel Fontana

Oh Marcello!

No sea monsters here . . .

One of the real secrets Romans keep about la dolce vita is the long and lazy Sunday lunch.  About 30 minutes out of Rome and on the coastline are several beaches including chic Fregene.  To its immediate north is  Paradise Beach (Maccarese). Open all year long, there is a sit down restaurant with specialties that include crispy fritti, spaghetti alla vongole and a selection of freshly caught grilled fish.

Paradise Beach, Via Monti dell’Ara 425; Tel. 06 6671451

Bonus Points and Extra Credit

At 5:00 every Sunday afternoon, the charming Cinema Azzuro Scipioni screens La Dolce Vita with English subtitles

The Altroquando bookstore near Piazza Navona specializes in Cinema.  Head here to stock up on postcards and movie posters and books.

Italian Ministry of Culture (MiBAC)’s ROMA CINEMA app archives a past La Dolce Vita exhibition, providing historical details and context  of Rome at the time of La Dolce Vite.  Note:  although the site is in Italian, the app is in English.

On the trail of La Dolce Vita? Here is a great map which points out all locations.

Photos by Tim BaynesRonnie R, LA Times

Tags: Art, Culture, Fellini, Film, Food, Italy, La Dolce Vita, Monuments, Rome, Things to Do

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