I’ve always been fascinated by classic Italian cinema and the genius of Federico Fellini.
Who knows how that infatuation plays through the tapestry of my life but through the years, I have visited Rome so many times yet never had the opportunity to tour Cinecittà Studios until this trip.
What an enthralling opportunity it is! Particularly since Cinecittà Shows Off!
Just standing in the extraordinary Fellini soundstage at Cinecittà, Teatro 5, makes you want to draw on eyeliner, find a black bustier and purr “Marceeeeello,” in hopes that Mastroianni may appear on screen before you wearing his iconic rectangular Persol sunglasses, crisp white shirt, black tie and dark suit.
The sweet life it is!
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How can you not get a little giddy in the stylized world of films– then and now– shot in what is Hollywood on the Tiber (the river that flows through Rome)? Love or hate the paparazzi, even the catchphrase was coined at Cinecittà Studios based on photographer character featured in Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita.”
The studio that Benito Mussolini founded in 1937 to film propaganda went one to hold the legacy of some of the international film industry’s most iconic and visually stunning productions.
The medieval Imperial Chinese Palace for Bernardo Bertalucci’s “The Last Emperor” was created at Cinecittà, 1930’s New York in Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon A Time in America” and New York in the 1800 for Martin Scorcese’s “The Gangs of New York” are part of the studio’s magic, along with the art house movie classic, Roberto Rosselini’s “Roma, citta aperta” starring Anna Magnani, “Roman Holiday” wih Audrey Hepburn, and the more recent “Nine,” “Mission Impossible 3” and “Coco Chanel” that were all filmed there.
Cinecitta is known for having the most sunny days of any film studio in Europe but it rained the day I visited with my family. Hence, the big raindrop on the photo below on the studio set from HBO series “Rome” that was filmed at the studio…. but thrilling all the same.
The largest prop ever built for a motion picture, is a 40 foot balsa wood Trojan Horse for 1954’s “Helen of Troy,’ but ever so captivating is the mega Venus head from Fellini’s “Casanova” that is parked on the studio’s lawn.
If it’s art imitating life that you seek, Elizabeth Taylor met and fell in love with Richard Burton on the 1964 Cinecitta set of “Cleopatra” and some of the gold gone wild props are on display today.
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Just like throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain to wish for a return visit to Rome, one never can never lay out a schedule set in stone when visiting the city… all the more reason to come back again and perhaps the secret lure of the Eternal City. While the media tour was beyond fascinating, I wasn’t able to completely see all of the new Cinecittà Shows Off exhibition that opens the studio doors to the public for the very first time as it was still under construction.
The special exhibition, Cinecitta Shows Off, allows visitors “to access the Dream Factory via the historic entrance at Via Tuscolana 1055, entering a sort of movie theatre where the film begins and the magic will come alive,” as stated on the studio web site. There are rooms dedicated to costumes and props along with a behind the scenes video of the editing process and rooms dedicated to the History of Cinecittà, and what a history it is!
You can end your tour, as did I, with a visit to the huge outdoor sets: The impressive Forum of Imperial Rome for the HBO series “Rome ,” pictured above the fold, constructed by the Studios’ expert set-builders and the see the Broadway of “Gangs of New York” created by the two-time Oscar-winning production designer Dante Ferretti for Martin Scorsese. Out of more than 3,000 films made at the studio, 48 have won Oscars.
You really should not miss Cinecittà Shows Off on your next trip to Rome. No immediate trip to Italy in your future? You can watch one of the films of Cinecitta, then and now:
Cinecittà photo gallery:[nggallery id=102]
Photos: Cinecittà, stock, and personal photos of Sharon Haver