What if Hollywood’s heart was in Piedmont?
Rest assured, this Christmas season we are all in the same boat. In fact, most of us will have followed the trend of the moment: pyjamas, blanket and off to movie marathons! Obviously always accompanied by a truckload of popcorn or other treats (or did you prefer Panettone?).
We Italians are known all over the world for our food, but our breathtaking locations are no less! We are lucky enough to live in a country that has mountains, sea, volcanoes, plains and breathtaking views in just 301,338 km2 (sorry if that’s not enough). Many destinations have been the altar for well-known American couples, but also the setting for several films!
As we live in Piedmont, we focus on the film activity that has taken place or been set in this region. So if you are a film buff, don’t think that you have to travel to Los Angeles to see Charles Chaplin’s bowler hat and Marylin Monroe’s shoes. If it’s more convenient for you, you can come to the Bel Paese. This time it’s time to leave the glittering lights, the chaos and the American exuberance behind and appreciate a more intimate Italian atmosphere. After all, “Botte piccola fa vino buono“. Our proverbial saying that recalls the more international “The best things come in small packages“.
To start off with a bang, let’s go straight to the capital of Piedmont: Turin. I chose this city not only because of its role, but also because it was the first Italian city where the film industry was established. The streets are many and intricate, but from above it is easy to recognise the place where we will begin this whirlwind of scripts, sets and screenplays.
If from the photo your choice fell on that pointed dome, you did well because it is the right choice! To get to this building, I advise you not to take the car, we are in the centre of Turin (we are starting to get into the Piedmontese side) in a restricted traffic zone, so let’s avoid fines. This city is partly crossed by Italy’s longest river called the Po. But leave the speedboat to James Bond, we prefer a more traditional and trustworthy means of transport: our feet! So, legs on our shoulders, we walk along via Po and then turn into via Montebello.
Forget about those visits you made as a child, characterised more by boredom, not yet ready to grasp the beauty of those paintings admired by mum and dad. In this case you’ll find yourself a real explorer thanks to the interactive route! You will be immersed in costumes and props, you will be able to scrutinise photos and playbills dating back to the early 1900s. You’ll be amazed at how they were able to shoot films with only such rudimentary cameras.
In the National Cinema Museum, an entire area is dedicated to Italian silent films, including the film Cabiria, set in Turin. In fact, to be aware of this colossal, recognised as the most famous Italian silent film, you had to be a youngster or an adult in 1914, when the film by Giovanni Pastrone was released. The name Cabiria was chosen by the famous Italian poet D’Annunzio (I swear, we didn’t want it to be a lesson in Italian literature and history) which means “born of fire”. The plot is set at the time of the Second Punic War, in which the protagonist Cabiria is chosen as a sacrificial victim. From an unjust fate, she is fortunately saved by the character Maciste right at the place of the misdeed: the temple of the God Moloch. If it is not possible to relive the scenes set in the temple (perhaps better that way) it is possible to admire, in the cinema hall of the Mole, the statue of the God Moloch: it is really the original one of the film 🤩
As we have mentioned Hollywood, we cannot forget the most eagerly awaited occasion of the year: the Academy Awards. Characterised by memorable moments and lots of glitter, we can define it as the most desired place for fans of the actors who tread the famous Red Carpet. It’s a great achievement to receive the coveted statuette, but it’s no less important to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture. This was the case with Riso Amaro, an Italian film from 1949 directed by Giuseppe de Santis. It was presented at the 3rd Cannes Film Festival, selected as one of the 100 Italian films to be saved, a true masterpiece to remember, especially for lovers of Vittorio Gassman, one of the characters in the film 😉
The main character is Silvana Mangano, who plays a young woman (her curves and waspish waistline are to be envied) who finds herself working as a mondina in the rice fields of the Vercelli area, situated in the hills of lower Piedmont.
We come to the end of this blog, telling you about a person who has entered the hearts of all of us Italians and is most likely known abroad as well 😊 I’m talking about Mauro Macario, a Turin native by name and by fact. In fact he was born and raised in Turin, a city that knows life and death of this person. Just to give you an idea of who he is, let’s start with the headlines:
- Italian actor and comedian of theatre, cinema and television;
- He is considered by critics to be the inventor of Italian comic cinema;
- He has worked in over 50 variety shows.
He is a real stage animal (in the best sense of the word), not the first one who passes by 😉 He started out at the age of 18, in 1920, as a “mountain climber”, a Piedmontese term for people who performed farces and dramas at village fairs. His humble beginnings and endless apprenticeship were a good omen for him, and in the 1920s he was finally called upon to replace Totò: no less than Prince De Curtis, a prince in life and a prince in show business (called ‘The Prince of Laughter’) with a 100% Neapolitan heart. He took part in countless variety numbers, a true colossus! Macario reached the end of his career when he also found the Piedmontese theatre, achieving great success with the opera Le Miserie di Monsù Travet. It is impossible not to recognise him in the photos of the time: a rebellious topknot on his head, a funny look and a smile on his face!
We are curious to know, tell us in the comments!
– Until next time, With love!