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A couple of Phoenicians living temporarily in Roma

Archive for the tag “Federico Fellini”

Inside Cinecitta Studios

From a Fellini movie

Statue used in a Fellini movie

Rome is home to the famous movie studios at Cinecitta. Started by Mussolini in 1937 and later made famous by the Italian director Federico Fellini, the studio became the home of Italian cinema. I wrote about the studio last year for the blog ItalianNotebook, during a strike by studio employees who were trying to save a part of it from becoming a theme park. You can view that post here for a bit more background on the studios. Recently, my new Australian friend Margo asked me to accompany her on a studio tour, so off we went.

Each day there’s an English language tour at 11:30, but we arrived earlier so we could enjoy the self tour beforehand. The self tour includes several really cool exhibits that showcase the history of the studio and the process of filmmaking. There are displays highlighting the different departments that work together to make a movie, such as costumes, props and set design, etc. Margo’s daughter works in Australia in TV helping to procure props, so her knowledge of the process helped make the tour even more interesting. You get to walk onto a set of a submarine and to experience how real it feels to be inside, complete with working parts and sound.

The guided part of the tour took us onto the back lot. We toured Stage 5, which was home to Fellini and all of his movies were made there. It is so big that it was possible to recreate full streets, like Via Veneto,  inside. Currently, a film about Fellini and his relationship with a news writer is being made inside Stage 5. We got to walk through some of the sets being used for this movie. It was amazing to experience the level of detail that goes into making it all look so real. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside Stage 5.

We next toured one of the 3 permanent sets on the lot. This set is a re-creation of an ancient city and was used for the filming of the BBC/HBO series Rome and The Passion of the Christ. It looks real, but the buildings are actually constructed from fiberglass and what look to be heavy stones are made from styrofoam. The set is multifunctional, as it can be a setting for a movie taking place in ancient Rome or Greece or Egypt. There are also parts that are made to look like 15th century Italy. These sections were used to film the BBC production of the Borgias, which is available on Netflix and is very different from The Borgias available on Showtime.

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Next we walked through an “urban” set, which is constructed from tall scaffolding that can be fronted to look like a variety of cities, as you can see in some of the photos below. This set was used for The Gangs of New York. The guided tour ended at this point and before we left, we also viewed the final “permanent” set, viewable on the self tour, which is the recreation of a street in a small Italian village that is used for a popular Italian TV show. It was a delightful morning at the movies!

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Friday Night Art and the Twins with the Melancholy Faces

Via Margutta

Via Margutta

Michael jetted back to the US this past weekend to surprise his eldest daughter, Lauren, at her graduation from medical school. (Congratulations again, Dr. Lauren Tobin Thompson!) I took the opportunity being alone to hang out with some of my women friends in Rome. At our party a few weeks ago, a guest had invited us to an art opening that she was curating at a gallery on Via Margutta. So I asked our friend Teresa to join me, and gallery hopping we went!

Via Margutta is a lovely, small, leafy street/alleyway in the Centro Storico of Rome off of via Baubino, a short walk from the Metro station at Piazza di Spanga (the Spanish Steps). On my way to meet Teresa, I ran into another friend, Claudia, who was also on her way to the opening. We soon arrived and met up with Teresa and since the gallery was the size of a large postage stamp, it didn’t take long to view the oversized photographs of fountain spray. You actually didn’t even have to go into the gallery to view the photographs. It was very hot inside, so we got a drink and hung out in the street along with most of the other patrons. Next to the gallery, I noticed these very interesting looking men who were busy posting their own art on the closed garage door next to the art gallery. As we looked closer, we noticed that they were twins. My interest was picqued more by them than the fountain spray, so Teresa and I wandered over to look at their art.

Their paintings were mostly of primitive horses along with one or two of fish, painted onto cardboard that seemed to be cut from boxes. The horses were similar in shape, but each was painted with unique colors and designs. They had been attached to the garage door with masking tape and there was a paper shopping bag propped up next to the door with more paintings inside. We tried in our limited Italian to speak with the brothers, Maurizio and Tonino, and were able to get that they were selling their paintings for 10€ each, with a few costing as much as 20€. We had to have one! After picking out our favorites, they signed them each on the back:

Maurizio e Tonino

I Gemelli Dal Viso Malin ComiCo (the twins with the Melancholy Faces)

Attori e Artisti (Actors and Artists)

Federico Fellini

The Twins with the Melancholy Faces

The Twins with the Melancholy Faces

We couldn’t figure out exactly what their affilitation was with Federico Fellini, the famous Italian movie director. Had he lived on Via Margutta? Were The Twins with the Melancholy Faces in Mr. Fellini’s movies? Teresa later sent me a website for researching movies, but I haven’t been able to find the twins. We both agreed they had good business skills in setting up their work next to an advertised show in a gallery and we were delighted with our art purchases.

Arthoteque De Roma gallery

Arthoteque De Roma gallery

Figuring it was time to move on, we kissed Claudia and another friend Carmelo goodbye (I love the custom of kissing on both cheeks when saying hello and goodbye), and meandered into a few other galleries that were having openings on the street. We admired the work at Artotheque De Rome of Micaela Legnaioli. Her husband explained they had been to the desert in California last year and the trip served as inspiration. We particularly liked her work of a prickly pear cactus that was made from green plastic water bottles. (The photos of her work and the street scene on Via Margutta are from the art gallery’s Facebook page).

Our final stop before heading to a lovely dinner outside at Coso Wine and Restaurant by the Italian parliament building, was at Area Contesa, a “temporary” gallery where we met the artist Sergio Eccomi. He greeted us warmly, offered us wine, took our photos, and gave us parting gifts of trees he had painted with plastic paint on copy paper. Bellissimo!

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