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Roma, Federico Fellini         [ part I ] [ part II ] [ part III ]

Italian cinema in Rome

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La dolce vita

Roma by Federico Fellini


federico fellini - romaAt this point the hippies are on the stage. In the first years of the Seventies they had elected Trinità dei Monti by the Spanish Steps as their meeting place. The director with acquitting tone towards them comments: “Perhaps for these disillusioned guys, that cuddle up to each other like kittens, like chicks, love is not a problem, they make it or perhaps they don’t, however it is no more a quandary of difficult resolution as it was for us, when our love pains took us to the brothels. Do you remember?” Some soldiers get to Via dei Tre Archi and they approach to a red door: it is a brothel, one of the most sordid ones; but next to this brothel there were also some luxurious ones. And the director tells his first experience in this matter… However Rome is also the restricted circle of the black aristocracy, who regrets the temporal power of the Popes. So Fellini in order to speak about this Rome invents the episode of princess Domitilla. Here the phantasmagoric and clownish vein of the director goes free with the invention of the “ecclesiastical fashion show”, where the most refined and sought after model is the one in the style of Pius XII

federico fellini - romaTo the dark and conservative Rome of Domitilla (who speaks however in the Roman dialect), is opposed, immediately after, the Rome of the alleys in Trastevere, of the “FESTA DE NOANTRI” (noantri is a dialectal word meaning noialtri, a strengthened form of noi=we), that stands out in relief in the luminous sign along the Tiber river, where at a distance under the soft lighting of sunset you see on a side Saint Peter’s dome and on the other side the one of the new Synagogue. The context of nowadays Rome is taken up again from the young hippies who gather in the evening in front of the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere that the police forces clear out. In the streets of the neighbour people meet in the trattorias to eat, sing and watch a box match in Piazza de Renzi. In the deepest night then, the director follows for a last interview a woman up to her house, it is Anna Magnani, according to him symbol of “a Rome seen like a She-Wolf and Vestal virgin, either aristocratic and ragged, gloomy and clownish at the same time”. Although Anna Magnani is making no statement!

federico fellini - romaAt this point the troupe of the director improvises a nocturnal foray by motorcycle into the deserted streets of Rome. We see then a carousel from Angel’s Castle to the church of sant’Andrea della Valle, sant' Agnese in Agone in Piazza Navona, a quick view of the Fontain of the Rivers, the Fontana of the Moor, and then the Spanish Steps with the Barcaccia fountain and the church of Trinità dei Monti, then in Piazza del Popolo the Fountain of the Flaminian obelisk, around which the riders make a whirlwind turn, showing us the subjective shot of the church of santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto, Valadier’s fountain with the background of the Pincio, and at the end Santa Maria del Popolo with Flaminia Gate, through which they pass and reach the Quirinal Square and then the Capitol hill where we see the Cordonata staircase, the Ara Coeli, the Dioscures, the statue of Mark Aurel, and then go further towards via del Velabro, where we notice the Arc of Giano, the temple of Hercules Vincitrix and the Temple of Viril Fortune in Piazza della Bocca della Verità, and finally the Colosseum. This is the show of a monumental scenographic setting prepared for that tragic-comic show that life is and that Rome is too; it is not by chance that the race ends up by the Colosseum that once was the tragic site of shows and that represents nowadays the same image of Rome, whose acronym SPQR is turned upside down at least for this time for the profit of the Populus and not of the Senatus, as demonstrated by the different episodes of the movie and by the motorcycle riders at the end, who in their race stay longer in Piazza del Popolo_

Gianfranco Massetti - translated by Francesca Torri

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