Sadly, it's hard to visit the Trevi today and feel much of that flights to Rome air of decadent romance, despite its appearance in that film, and in 1953's Roman Holiday, which has reporter Gregory Peck rediscovering his scruples while whisking secret princess Audrey Hepburn to and fro on - inevitably - a Vespa. Any such spell is broken by the blokes dressed up as centurions, and charging ^5 a photo. To do Rome tour on foot is to be constantly leaping out of the way of scooters.
Visiting the Forum (where Mark Anthony came to bury Caesar and plunged Rome into 17 years of civil war), the Sistine chapel in the Vatican museums and the Colosseum is only part of the Rome tour. Last stop is the Circus Maximus, where 300,000 spectators would come to watch men thundering round the track in chariots.
From Garibaldi Place it is a mere 10 minutes across town to the giant Trevi Fountain. Two and a half centuries old, and starring Neptune and a couple of tritons, it's no ordinary water feature. The writhing, muscular cast are, however, famously upstaged by the pneumatic figure of Anita Ekberg having a languid paddle here in La Dolce Vita, Fellini's scathing 1960 satire on the idle rich.
Those tourists doing the tour of Rome know that Rome hotels used to specialise in the ornate, but now designers are going to the other extreme.
The Es hotel in Rome,the latest minimalist masterpiece, is a dramatic part of the regeneration of the grimy quarter of Esquilino. Rome has a long history of grand statements. Think of the Colosseum, Vittorio Emanuele's wedding cake monument or Palazzo Farnese. But you don't have to stay in a Renaissance pile to appreciate all this.
Es hotel by architects Jeremy King and Riccardo Roselli is a contemporary grand statement all of its own.
Overlooking Termini, the formidable railway station, it is part of an initiative to regenerate the formerly rundown, grimy quarter of Esquilino and respond to the city's need for reinventing the glamour and sophistication of its past.
The concept behind Es is to create a haven of luxury and style, with an emphasis on 'satisfying every conscious and unconscious desire'. Not that you'd guess that from the outside. The hotel's alarming resemblance to a multi-storey car park is compounded by an entrance that, at the time of writing, looked not unlike the concourse in front of an out-of-town superstore.
Once inside, you start to get a better idea of Es's grand statement. The airy glass atrium with subdued lighting and a doughnut-shaped inflatable reception desk is manned by a handful of affable staff who look like Armani catwalk models. In what seems to be the tradition of concept Rome hotels, everyone is wearing black.
The tourists are whisked up the stairs past es.libris, the hotel's stylish reading room- cum-bar, to the room, a suite with its own decked balcony from which you can see the arches of an ancient Roman aqueduct and, beyond, the geometric lines of Termini.
The room, it turns out, is one of several fitness suites with its own gym equipment (handy for those anticipating overindulgence in the plush top-floor restaurant), a big white bed fitted with a central console straight out of the Starship Enterprise and a plasma screen TV with a choice of DVDs should you tire of fiddling with the push- button controls that move the blinds and adjust the lighting. In fact you can quite easily create the illusion of activity from your bed without so much as stretching a toe in the direction of the exercise bike.
The minimalism continues behind a screen, where the open-plan bathing area is dominated by a Jacuzzi bath with its own internal lighting. Our powers of deduction are once again tested by the array of taps and switches, but achieving lift-off in the Jacuzzi neces sitates several phone calls and an engineer.
The bar leading on to a rooftop pool, whose elegant lighting - as elsewhere in the hotel - designed by Cappellini gives the whole place a relaxing ambient vibe. As you might expect in such luxurious surroundings, drinks do not come cheap, but the bar snacks are generous and there's always the chance of a little celebrity doing Rome tour: Paul McCartney and Craig David are among an illustrious list of visitors, although we discover that Woody Allen was so overwhelmed by the hotel's understatement that he checked out early.
On Rome tours the city greets visitors with a multitude of faces: the ancient city, with ruins like the Colosseum and Roman Forum; Renaissance Rome, full of winding streets and sun-dappled piazzas; and the Vatican, home to the Pope and St. Peter's Cathedral. Art is everywhere, with masterpieces often hidden in tiny, nondescript churches. After dark, enotecas (wine bars) and nightclubs come alive with Italian energy. Just don't forget your Prada: Romans know style as well as they do history.