Dolce Vita Blogger Series – A Hidden Gem


Grazie to Kelly from , Jasmine from and Kristie from for initiating the #DolceVitaBloggers group, a collective community of like minded Italophiles who share their passion and stories of Il Bel Paese (Italia). Stay tuned for the 7th of every month where I’ll take part in the #DolceVitaBlogger series.

 A Chance Meeting with a Dame in the Eternal City

dame judi dench

Acclaimed stage and screen Actress, Dame Judi Dench with my exchange group and I.

Ever since Audrey Hepburn’s Princess Ann, was swept off her feet on a Vespa by Gregory Peck’s Joe Bradley in A Roman Holiday, we too have become enamoured with the idea of being swept up in a chance encounter in the Eternal City of Rome. Perhaps because an Ancient City like Rome is the home of countless myths and legends, or because we have seen these chance encounters in this Historic City played out again and again on the big screen. From Anita Ekberg’s sizzling rendezvous with Marcello Mastroianni in La Dolce Vita, to Lizzie McGuire’s chance encounter with Paolo Valisari in The Lizzie McGuire Movie (yes, I’m a 90’s baby and as a tween, that Vespa sequence was cinematography at its finest) – it just seems that if you’re ever going to meet “the somebody” or “a somebody” by chance, it will most likely happen in Roma. As Dean Martin famously crooned “the beginning has just begun when the sun goes down…on an evening in Roma”.

As a 16-year old Italian and Media student on Italian exchange from Australia, the hustle and bustle of a beautifully chaotic city like Rome seemed like the perfect setting to uncover a hidden gem – a chance encounter on a film set, or an encounter with a star. After all, coming from Perth, which is considered the most isolated city in the world – these chance encounters are few and far between.

It seemed a given that our groups’ destined star struck moment to uncover a “hidden gem” would be on our day trip to Cinecitta. After all this was the infamous studio where stars like Sofia Loren were made and grand Hollywood love stories like that of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor’s sizzled and then fizzled. But there were no signs of lights, cameras or action when we visited.

And that’s Rome for you. It’s all about expecting the unexpected. The fancy looking pizzeria in the main piazzas might have you expecting the best pizza, but in reality, you’re better off wandering off the beaten track.

So as imagined it was a shock when I was waiting in the Vatican gift shop of all places when I recognised a familiar voice and Eccola! – there was none other than Dame Judi Dench patiently waiting next to me in line. As a 16-year-old, I wasn’t overly familiar with her filmography, but I knew she had won an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love (which has since become a favourite film of mine) and I recognised her from her scene-stealing turn as M in the James Bond series – so why was there no fuss? No commotion? Was nobody familiar with her extensive body of work or was a celebrity sighting an everyday scenario for the people of Rome? I immediately took a double take before I said anything to my friends, and I quietly observed her poise, her accent and her mannerisms and there was no doubt in my mind – this was Judi Dench!

After confirming with our teachers that it was definitely her and realising that out of the 27 students perhaps only four of us knew who she was, it was time to approach her for a photo. I didn’t have the courage to ask but luckily my roommate James did – and for that, we have this classic photo which from memory was taken by her daughter Finty Williams. Dame Judi Dench was gracious with her time and happily mingled with us overly excited school students.

And there you have it. A group of overly excited teenagers from Perth, Western Australia in the historic Piazza of St. Peter’s Basilica with one of the World’s most acclaimed and celebrated actresses. And that’s Roma – a place where the most unlikely encounters will occur and hidden gems will be discovered.

dolce vita bloggers

WIN: To celebrate my first #DolceVitaBloggers post I’m giving away a double in-season pass to see Dame Judi Dench’s latest film, Tea With The Dames. Competition is open to Australian residents only. For your chance to win sign up now to my Dine With Daniele mailing list at

In Bocca al lupo!

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