This is literally the quintessential early 2000s teen movie. It has a killer soundtrack, Lizzie sports some rockin' outfits that are very reminiscent of the trends at the time, and most importantly, it has a magical plot (although it is a little bit unbelievable that Lizzie was fresh out of 8th grade when the movie takes place). And did I mention that the majority of the movie is set in ROME?! From the first time that I saw it as a little girl, I knew that I had to visit this magical city someday.
(Also- if you for some reason have NEVER seen this cinematographic masterpiece, stop what you're doing and change this. Immediately! The Lizzie McGuire Movie is now on Netflix so you have no excuse 😉)
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Fast forward to March 2017, and it was finally time to live out my Lizzie McGuire Movie dreams! Hilary Duff and the rest of the movie cast actually filmed the movie on location in Rome, so it really was filmed at many of Rome's famous spots. Even though my mom and I traveled to Italy as apart of a tour group (more on that to come in future posts about the trip!), I knew that I had to make it a point to visit some of the spots from the iconic scenes- either as apart of tour excursions or in the free time that we had. It was my goal to visit four of the locations featured in the movie:
*The Trevi Fountain - Where Lizzie and Gordo make wishes for the rest of their class trip, and the place that Lizzie spots Paolo for the first time.
*The Spanish Steps - Where Lizzie emerges after her makeover with Paolo's stylist.
*The Tivoli Gardens - Where Lizzie and Paolo rehearse for the International Video Music Awards.
*The Coliseum - The site of the International Video Music Awards!
I'm so excited to share that my mom and I were amazingly able to visit THREE out of these four places!! I want to share with y'all about my visit experiences at all of them, and how you can make it happen if you travel to Rome. Because getting to go visit these places in real life really is "What Dreams Are Made Of" after all!
*The Lizzie McGuire Movie Stop #1 - The Trevi Fountain: The Trevi Fountain is shown in one of the earlier parts of the movie. It's one of the first places where Lizzie and her class visit on their tour of Rome, and she of course partakes in the tradition of making a wish on a coin and throwing it into the fountain.
The Trevi Fountain is located right in the heart of Rome. It was about a 20 minute walk from our hotel (which was located near Villa Borghese Park). The walk was very pleasant, and we passed a lot of beautiful buildings and lovely shops and restaurants on the way there.
The Fountain itself is located amongst a maze of tiny streets and alleyways, a little bit off of the main city streets. I had a limited international data plan for our trip and was trying not to use it the day that we went to see the Trevi Fountain, so it was a little bit harder to find at first, but we eventually made our way! We went on a free afternoon that we had on our tour, I was amazed at how many people were there! March is technically before Rome's tourist season begins, and the fountain was absolutely PACKED. It made me wonder how they were able to film the movie and at what time of year they did it since it didn't look nearly as packed in those scenes.
Anyways, I can be a bit claustrophobic in large crowd situations, but I was able to calm my nerves and wait my turn to get up to the fountain to still get my picture and throw my coin in for my "Lizzie" moment. I did have to wait while for my chance to get right up to the fountain for a picture without the huge crowds in it, but it was so worth it! And true story: I did cry a little bit when we finally founded the corner and I saw it in person for the first time... no shame!
*The Lizzie McGuire Movie Stop #2 - The Colosseum: This is the setting of the best part of the movie, when Hilary Duff gets to make her musical debut (as both Lizzie McGuire AND Isabella... how bad is it to say that it took me way too many years to realize that both actresses were the same person! Haha) and performs at the International Music Video Awards. So as you can imagine, I was really excited to see the actual Colosseum in real life! Unrelated to the movie, I was also intrigued to see the Colosseum for a different and much more serious reason. The actual historical significance behind the Colosseum is that back in the days of Roman emperors, one of the main events held there were the public and torturous executions of Christians. My faith is very important to me and I know that I take for granted too often for the fact that I am a US citizen and live in a place where I am free to practice my religion without fear, unlike many other places in the world. It was very humbling to visit a place where so many were once killed just for believing in the same God that I believe in.
But anyways, back to the movie! Lizzie and Paolo make their debut as Paolo and Isabella by walking the red carpet outside of the Colosseum, and then they perform during the awards show in the movie. Well, imagine my surprise when I saw the actual inside of the Colosseum! The outside looks just like it does in the movie, but the inside is another story! A lot of the ancient rock formations and chambers are still fully intact from gladiator fight days, so I hate to break it to y'all but there is absolutely no way that a modern awards show could take place here. Boo Disney for lying to all of us innocent children back in the early 2000s! BUT - it was still super cool to visit here, both for the movie reasons and the more historical reflective reasons.
We visited the Colosseum as apart of an optional excursion with our tour group. I think however that most major tours that go through Rome cover this as a stop or an optional excursion, and if you're visiting Rome on your own then it isn't too hard to find a day tour trip through your hotel or another tour type agency. You can also go on your own via taxi or city bus, however the lines were extremely long to get into the Colosseum, and since we went with a tour company it made the process to get in a lot quicker. It also felt safer being in a group with a guide, as pick pockets are a large problem in Rome and they do like to Target popular tourist spots like this one.
*The Lizzie McGuire Movie Stop #3 - The Spanish Steps: This is where Lizzie and Paolo emerge after she has her fun appointment with his stylist and picks out her outfit for the Music Awards. She also almost has a narrow run-in with her class and class chaperone, Ms. Ungermeyer, near here as well!
The Spanish Steps really are a beautiful public area centrally located in the heart of Rome. There is a metro station for the Spanish Steps, and many bus routes that let off near here as well (although like with the Trevi Fountain, my mom and I opted to walk there). Also similarly to the Trevi Fountain, it was really busy on the afternoon that we visited the Spanish Steps! That seemed to be a theme in Rome. Even though it wasn't tourist season when we went, Rome doesn't ever seem to slow down, similarly to Las Vegas, one of my other favorite places!
Anyways, The Spanish Steps are a really nice place just to have a seat and enjoy the beauty and hustle and bustle of an afternoon in Rome. The architecture on buildings in this neighborhood is just stunning, and some of Rome's premiere designer shopping is located here as well (Chanel, Valentino, Dior, etc). My mom and I stopped for some of the best gelato that we had on the trip after visiting the Spanish Steps and I wish I remembered the name of the cafe!
*The Lizzie McGuire Movie Stop #4 - The Tivoli Gardens: After the Trevi Fountain, this was actually the movie spot that I wanted to visit the most - even more than the Colosseum! This is the spot where Lizzie and Paolo rehearse for their performance, and then after that they have a magical evening running around the gardens. Even though Paolo turns about to be a lying jerkface, when they're in the gardens together I do think it's one of the cutest parts of the movie. *sigh*
Out of the four spots that I mentioned in this post, the Tivoli Gardens (otherwise known as Villa d'Este), are the hardest to get to, which is why we weren't able to visit. Villa d'Este is designated as a historic spot since its on the grounds of a historic palace, and you do have to buy tickets to visit, similar to the Colosseum.
Villa d'Este and the Tivoli Gardens are also about a 50 minute drive (without traffic) from the center of Rome, so it would be a day trip to get there. Our tour company that we visited Italy with offers guided day trip excursions to Villa d'Este during the summer, but since we were in Rome during off-season our tour wasn't offering these trips. My mom and I looked into booking a side day trip with a different day tour company through our hotel, but the ones that they offered were only running twice a week since it was off season, and the days they were running didn't work with our other travel plans. So if you visit in the off season like we did, it might be harder to visit. But I do wish we could have been able to go and see the beautiful gardens and other historic landmarks there, so definitely go if you get the chance when you're in Italy!
I hope that you enjoyed my Lizzie McGuire inspired Rome sights travel guide! Soon I'll be sharing a more general travel guide to Rome and some of the other things that we did while there. And I also can't wait to recap the other cities that we visited while in Italy - I still have so much to share!
Below I'm linking a few travel essentials that I wore on most days of our trip / came in very handy:
Thanks for reading!
xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on the radio!)