As we are getting ready to finally see Rome as a new Bond location in Spectre, it has naturally been used rather extensively as a filming location throughout the decades. Rome was for instance the location for Lord Sinclair and Danny Wilde in an episode of The Persuaders!. In the 17th episode, called ‘Five Miles to Midnight’, Danny and Brett are sent to Rome to help judge Fulton to smuggle an American mobster out of Italy. As per usual, most of the scenes were shot in Pinewood, but a few establishing shots over Rome were filmed on location.
The episode starts off with a panoramic view over Piazza del Popolo, a large oval square in the northern part of central Rome. You have the best view over the square from one of the viewpoints in the garden of Villa Borghese, for instance near Piazza Bucarest. Piazza del Popolo is an odd choice for an establishing shot, since it is perhaps not the most characteristic place in Rome, even though St. Peter’s Church is visible in the far background.
After the title sequence Brett is driving his Aston Martin around town and few famous sights are featured.
Brett makes his entrance in the episode in front of Altare della Patria, (Altar of the fatherland), also known as the national monument to Victor Emmanuel II. He arrives on the Via dei fori Imperiali and drives across Piazza Venezia, which is the big square right in front of the monument and Rome’s answer to Trafalgar Square. Built in honour of Victor Emmanuel who was the first king of unified Italy, the monument was inaugurated in 1911 and completed in 1925.
Very briefly seen in the background behind Lord Sinclair is the imposing Palazzo Venezia which also faces the big square. This is a Renaissance palace built in the 15th century by Pope Paul II. The palace is perhaps most known for being the place from where Mussolini harangued the Italian masses during the fascist era. Il Duce declared war against Britain and France on 10 June 1940 from the stone balcony seen in the two pictures below. The balcony connects with the Mussolini’s old office.
Having the most British of all Lords driving his Aston Martin past the balcony where Italy, 30 years earlier, had declared war on England was perhaps a cheeky hint to Il Duce. The palazzo today houses a museum.