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The world’s most wonderful film set Angels & Demons joins the many films that use Rome as a backdrop RICHARD CROUSE FOR METRO CANADA May 13, 2009

storymaker-trevi-fountain-1205225-514x268From Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni splashing around in the waters of the Trevi Fountain in La Dolce Vita to Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck’s romantic street tour in Roman Holiday the Eternal City has provided some of the cinema’s most unforgettable images.

According to Italian director Federico Fellini, “Rome is the most wonderful movie set in the world.” Now with the release of Angels & Demons, shot on location in Rome, a new industry has emerged from the ancient city — movie tourism.

Patrizia Prestipino, head of Rome’s provincial department of tourism told the New York Times that “a film like this could re-launch American tourism. For us it’s like free advertising.” And it’s marketing that seems to be working. Tour groups like the Angels & Demons Path of Illumination Tour, angelsanddemons.it, Sienna Reid’s Angels and Demons Tour, italyhotline.com, and the Rome Angels and Demons Half-Day Tour, viatour.com, have been enjoying brisk business with packages that range from $75 per person to $550 for a personal excursion.

If you’re not a tour group kind of person you can arrange your own expedition of Rome’s Angels and Demons locations and other cinematic sites with a good map from your hotel’s concierge.

(Take note that several of the places mentioned in the book are not geographically accurate. It’s best to do some internet research before hitting the streets.) Here are some good starting points:

Castel Sant’Angelo
Built between 135 and 139 by the Roman Emperor Hadrian Castel Sant’ Angelo not only figures in the climax of Angels & Demons, but also has a spectacular panoramic view of Rome. The castle can also be seen in Roman Holiday’s barge scene.

Santa Maria della Vittoria
Santa Maria Della Vittoria is the setting for Angels &?Demons’ most gruesome and exciting scene — the “fire” killing — but in reality is the home to the beautiful Bernini sculpture of the ecstasy of St. Theresa.

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi
Located at the center of Piazza Navona the ornate The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (“Fountain of the Four Rivers”) is one of Bernini’s most famous works and the backdrop for the film’s “water” assassination.

Other Rome movie must-sees include:

Mouth of Truth
The Mouth of Truth located in the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. The carved, grinning stone face which purportedly bites off the hands of liars most famously appeared in Roman Holiday but can also be seen in Only You starring Robert Downey Jr.

Trevi Fountain
At almost 26 metres high the Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fount in Rome and the inspiration for the 1954 hit song and movie Three Coins in the Fountain. Every day tourists throw almost 3,300 euros into the fountain — legend says that visitors who toss a coin into the fountain are guaranteed a return to Rome—money that is donated to charity.

Movie lovers will find much to see in Rome and many memories to take home. As Audrey Hepburn said in Roman Holiday, “I will cherish my visit here in memory for as long as I live.”

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