Located 10 miles from the center of Rome in a parkland estate extending over 99 acres, Cinecittà is the hub of Italian Cinema as well as the largest filmmaking facility in Europe. Since its foundation in 1937, it has hosted more than 3,000 films, which have made the history of cinema – from classics like Quo Vadis? (1951), Ben Hur (1959), Cleopatra (1863) and La dolce vita (1960) to more recent productions, such as The Name of the Rose (1986), The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), The Godfather Part III (1990), The English Patient (1996), Gangs of New York (2002), Ocean’s Twelve (2004), The Passion of the Christ (2004) and the BBC/HBO series Rome (2004-2007). Created by Benito Mussolini for propaganda purposes (“Cinema is the strongest weapon”, proclaimed the Italian Fascist dictator rephrasing Lenin’s dictum “Cinema is the most important of the arts”), the studios were bombed by the Western Allies during World War II and were later used as a displaced persons’ camp. Many Neorealist works were shot there in the years after the war, including Roberto Rossellini’s Rome, Open City (1945). During the 1950s, many American filmmakers chose Cinecittà as their favorite filming location, due to the studio’s facilities, its reputation for creative talent and its relatively low production costs, which earned the studio the name of “Hollywood on the Tiber”. The name of Cinecittà has however mostly been associated with Federico Fellini, who shot nearly all of his films in the famous Studio 5, inside of which he even had an apartment where he lived during the shootings.
Today Cinecittà has four production centers, one of which is in Morocco, and continues to be a vital working centre for production, pre-production and post-production, also thanks to the state-of-the-art Cinecittà Digital Factory created in 2009. The studio is currently mostly used for the production of TV mini series, advertising and special events. For its unique combination of traditional craftsmanship (of which the De Angelis’ sculpture workshop is one of the most breathtaking examples) and leading-edge technology, it remains one of the most evocative and historically significant places in Italy.
Laura Giacalone is the Associate Editor for the Italian Journal.