I just saw the new James Bond Film Spectre, which I was particularly excited to see since Rome is the backdrop for much of the first part of the film. There was quite a bit of controversy when filming came to the Eternal City. The Bond production shut down streets (never appreciated in a city as congested as Rome). On the other hand, the film company had to deal with some of Rome’s current problems, like graffiti and garbage — which they were able to do in a matter of weeks, when the city of Rome had failed to do so in months (or years). Kudos to the Spectre team, though this certainly says something about the inability of the local government to get things done.
Much was also made of the fact that the beautiful Italian actress Monica Bellucci is now the “oldest Bond girl.” Bond first meets the Bellucci character in a scene filmed in the EUR district, among the giant columns of the Museum of Roman Civilization, which doubles for a church complex. Bellucci plays a widow attending the funeral of her assassin husband, who was killed by Bond. He later meets her at her magnificent home, which is the Villa di Fiorano. In typical Bond fashion, sparks fly. But that’s the last we see of the lovely Ms. Bellucci. What a waste — as she would have been a much more interesting (and age appropriate) love interest than the young French actress who fills that role.
Next, Bond drives his exquisite Aston Martin DB10 (designed and built specifically for the film) through Rome, whizzing past the Porta San Pancrazio (which is now a (free!) museum dedicated to Giuseppe Garibaldi and his followers) on the Janiculum Hill.
Bond also drives past some of the iconic sights, such as the Colosseum and Arch of Constantine. Certainly a terrific backdrop, although there were reports that the cobblestones interfered with the audio recording in the car. Ah, Rome.
Next, Bond infiltrates a meeting of SPECTRE at the fictional Palazzo Cadenza (actually Blenheim Palace in England), and then begins his now-famous car chaste through the Eternal City. The car chase goes past the Acqua Paola fountain, with its incredible view over the city.
Then suddenly the car is speeding down Corso Vittorio Emanuele, then up and down the hills of Via Panisperna in Monti, yet somehow Bond is next seen driving down Via della Conciliazione towards St. Peter’s Basilica, and going through a gate of the Vatican Walls.
Then, he’s off to another place. Just like his relationship with Ms. Bellucci, James Bond’s time in Rome was over far too soon.