When Bruno Heller, creator of the HBO series Rome, started scouting for shooting locations he focused at first on the cheapest places he could find: Bulgaria, Romania, Tunisia. But there was one thing that he couldn’t replicate anywhere else: Rome’s light.
Bruno Heller ended up shooting at Italy’s Cinnecità, is a large film studio in the Municipio VII area of Rome that is considered the hub of Italian cinema – making Rome one of the most expensive TV shows ever made. But it was worth it.
Rome’s light – a brilliant white light that illuminates the city’s pastel buildings, enriching and emboldening every salmon-painted wall, every orange and peach-colored piazza – is one of the most singular aspects of its beauty: a perfect combination of climate and the architecture that refracts it that comes together to create a city that always – even the heart of the day, even when it’s cloudy or it rains – feels like dawn.
I return to Rome – where I spent much of my childhood – once or twice a year, now. Stepping out of the airport train at Termini Station is hardly a scenic reintroduction: my first glimpse of the city is invariably obscured by a few dozen buses, a few thousand people. But the incandescent light hitting the Diocletian Baths in the distance, highlighting the rose stone of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, is enough for me. I know I’m home.
Take me there!