Based on Dalton Trumbo’s story, in Rome a princess runs off and has fun with an American reporter who wants her story but decides not to write it.
Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) is touring Europe and arrives in Rome, and she is presented at her embassy’s ball. She is bored with her official duties and screams at her secretary, who gets a doctor. She promises to cooperate and cries, and he gives her a shot. After they have gone, she gets out of bed, gets dressed, and sneaks out in the back of a truck. She gets out on a street and is sleepy.
Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) is playing poker. Irving Radovich (Eddie Albert) says he has a meeting with the princess in the morning for pictures. Joe leaves and finds Ann laying on a brick bench. He assumes she is drunk, but she recites a poem. He hails a cab and says he will drop her off, but the only address he can get from her is the Colosseum. She falls asleep in the taxi, and the driver will not take her. So Joe leads her into his apartment. He hands her pajamas, and she asks him to help her get undressed. She says she has never been alone with a man before. He goes out for ten minutes.
Embassy officials are worried about her and keep it secret. Joe comes back and finds her in the bed, not on the couch. He rolls her over to the couch.
Joe wakes up at noon and realizes he missed his interview with the princess. Joe goes to work and tells his editor Hennessey (Hartley Power) he was at the interview. Hennessey says she is ill, and Joe admits he overslept. He recognizes her picture in the paper. Joe calls Giovanni (Paolo Borboni) and tells him not to let anyone in or out. Joe asks Hennessey how much he would pay for an exclusive interview. He says $5,000, and he bets $500 he won’t get the story.
Joe asks Giovanni for a loan, but he owes him rent. Joe checks to find out if she is the princess and then carries her back to the bed. Gradually she wakes up and asks for her doctor. She learns that she was there all night with him. He introduces himself. She learns it is 1:30 and says she must go. He runs a bath for her, goes out, and calls Irving to come over right away; but Irving says he is busy.
A charwoman comes in and finds Ann. Joe finds Ann on the balcony and offers her breakfast. Ann says she must go and says goodbye. She comes back and asks to borrow some money. Giovanni sees Joe give her money. Joe follows her on the crowded street. She goes in a hair salon and asks for a short hair cut. Outside Joe tries to borrow a camera from a little girl. The barber invites Ann to go dancing. Ann buys an ice cream cone and is given a flower.
Joe admires her hairstyle. She says she ran away from school. He suggests she take the day off, and he joins her. At a café she says her father works in public relations. He says he sells chemicals. Irving shows up. Joe tries to keep Irving from revealing things. After several slips Joe takes him aside and says he will get $5,000 and offers him a quarter of it. Irving loans him money. Ann smokes her first cigarette, and Irving takes pictures of her with his lighter.
Joe and Ann ride a motorcycle and visit the Colosseum. Irving follows them. She drives wildly, and they are questioned at a police station. Joe says they are getting married. Irving says Joe is a good liar, and Ann says she is too. Joe pretends his hand is bitten by a statue.
He tells her about a wall of tablets for wishes that was started during the war. She suggests they go dancing, and Joe says Irving has to go.
As they are dancing, two detectives notice her. She thanks him for doing what she wants. The barber sees Ann and dances with her. Irving takes their picture. Five more detectives arrive. A detective cuts in and tells her to move to a car. She struggles, and Joe intervenes. Joe, Irving, and the barber fight the detectives. Ann hits one with a guitar. Police arrive, and Joe and Ann run off. A detective knocks Joe in the water, and Ann jumps in. Joe helps her out, and she shivers. He kisses her.
They go back to his apartment, and they drink wine. They hear a news report about the ill princess. She says she has to go, and they embrace. He drives her to the embassy gate, and she asks him to drive away. She cries, and they hug and kiss. She gets out and goes around the corner.
Ann tells the ambassador (Harcourt Williams) she was indisposed and that she only came back because of her duty.
Hennessey calls on Joe at his apartment and asks if he got the story. Joes says no. Irving comes in with photos, and Joe disrupts him. Hennessey tells Joe to go to the princess’s interview. Joe tells Irving there is no story, and Irving shows him the photos. Joe says he can sell the pictures.
At the embassy Princess Ann gives a formal interview for reporters. She sees Joe and Irving in front. Joe says her faith in friendship will not be unjustified. She says Rome was the best part of her tour. She asks to meet them and shakes their hands one by one. Irving gives her his photos. After the other reporters go, Joe walks away alone.
This romantic comedy is a modern take on a fairy tale about a princess in reverse. Instead of wanting to be a princess or prince, in this case the princess wants to be free of her duties but is obligated by them. After she and a reporter fall in love, she has to return to duty, and he sacrifices his story to preserve her reputation.