Rome, Open City (Roma, Città Aperta) is a 1945 Italian neo-realist drama film directed by Roberto Rossellini. The picture features Anna Magnani (in her film debut), Aldo Fabrizi and Marcello Pagliero, and is set in Rome during the Nazi occupation in 1944.
The title refers to Rome being declared an open city after 14 August 1943. In war, an open city is a settlement which has announced it has abandoned all defensive efforts, generally in the event of the imminent capture of the city to avoid destruction of historic and cultural landmarks. Once a city has declared itself an open city, the opposing military will be expected to peacefully occupy the city rather than destroy it. In the case of Rome, while landmarks might have been saved, the battle continued between the Italian Resistance and the occupying German forces.
The film won several awards at various film festivals, including the most prestigious Cannes' Grand Prize, and was also nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar at the 19th Academy Awards. The most intriguing thing about this film is to watch the powerful and human performance by Anna Magnani in her first film role. Rossellini handled the grim subject of occupation well, with the occasional instances of comical Italian characters in awkward situations. It is also amazing to see an antifascist film made so close to the liberation of Italy in 1945. Many scenes show people living in partially bombed-out apartment blocks. If this film doesn't bring your pathos to the surface, nothing will.
I happened upon this film yesterday on one of my vintage film channels, but it was such a terribly fuzzy print that I went searching to find a better one... this YouTube print is impeccable.
Click the image below to watch the film...
For those who might have missed it, here is the best, un-edited live stream of Easter Mass at St. Peters Basilica with Pope Francis. There are overdubbed English translations. After the mass, the Pope gives his Urbi et Orbi (City and the World) message to all us.
The stark scenes of Pope Francis holding mass in an empty Basilica are very moving, reminding us of the crisis we all still have to get through.
Buona Pasqua, tutti.
Andrà tutto bene...
Click the video below to watch the Easter Mass at St. Peters Basilica
During the coronavirus lock-downs, we have to keep our minds healthy as well as our bodies. For anyone loving Italy, its lifestyle, its history or just love anything Italian, here are some suggestions for films and documentaries and series to watch on Amazon Prime either for free or rental.
Rita Moreno and James Gandofini add to the humor of this Italian-American comedy about a family pizzeria barely staying in business. Perhaps a stereotypical view of Italian-Americans, but the funny characters make it worth watching.
Let Yourself Go (subtitles)
A self-involved psychoanalyst's tightly ordered world is thrown for a loop by two women: Claudia, a high-spirited fitness instructor who tries to give him a makeover, and Giovanna, his ex-wife who lives next door and still does his laundry. Definitely worth spending time with these characters.
Io Sono Gaetano (subtitles)
Gaetano has just turned 60 and, in the family clan to which he belongs, hasn't managed to make it any further than the boss's driver. He dreams of leaving the mafia, of retiring to the countryside, but it's not that easy to get away from the mafia. His wife, the boss's sister, doesn't think much of Gaetano's dreams.
Il Mio Giorno (subtitles)
Matteo, is a 70 year old man who decides to end his life but not before throwing a party for his last day. Relatives and friends try to persuade him to change his mind, while he is supported in his decision by a young woman, employee of the funeral service agency he contacted. A surreal, dark comedy.
Enchanted April (rental)
Four dissimilar women in 1920s England leave their rainy environments to vacation in an Italian castle. Two of them are struggling to make the best of unhappy marriages, one is an elderly but elegant prude, and the fourth is Lady Caroline Dester, a young, wealthy, chic flapper. Beautifully filmed in Portofino, Joan Plowright, Miranda Richardson and Alfred Molina elevate the acting in this treasure.
What do you do when your father confesses on his death bed that you have a brother? Two brothers - one American, one Italian, who've never met - take a road trip from Rome to the picturesque region of Molise on a journey to spread the ashes of their late father in the small town where he was born. We loved this little film and watching as these newfound brothers clash and then come together.
The Big Night
One of our favorite films about two Italian brothers who come to the U.S. and open a restaurant. Their high cuisine isn't understood by the typical American patrons who wonder why the spaghetti doesn't come with meatballs on top. So they hatch a plan to have a big opening night with celebrities while offering one of their most special recipes. Tony Shalhoub, Stanley Tucci, Minnie Driver, Ian Holm and Isabella Rossellini are a wonderful cast for this Italian classic.
One Hundred Steps (subtitles)
Peppino Impastato was a quick-witted boy growing up in a Sicilian village in the late 1960s. He lives in a family with Mafia connections, one hundred steps away from the house of Tano Badalamenti, the Mafia boss. As he becomes of age, Peppino denounces the whole Mafia system by using a small local radio station to broadcast his political pronouncements in the form of ironic humor. A battle of right versus might and La Famiglia against family.
Lost in Florence
What seems like just a romantic film is actually a great vehicle to watch a spectacular, historic sport--Calcio Fiorentino in action. The main character is an American ex-football player who joins a team playing an archaic form of soccer native to Florence since the sixteenth century. If you like sports, you'll love this film.
Rome (Series, 2-seasons, in English, very adult content)
This has to be one of the most compelling docudrama series since I Claudius. It's amazingly historic in detail and in the pagan culture in Rome 2000 years ago. This is a must-watch for anyone who loves the history of Italy and Ancient Rome. Binge-watching this one might take more than a week.
Cinema Paradiso (rental, subtitles)
The story follows a film director's coming of age in a small Italian town. His best friend is the aging film projectionist in the local Cinema Paradiso who helps him learn about love, compassion, jealousy, patriotism and family. This has to be one of the best Italian films ever made.
Seven Beauties (rental, subtitles)
One of Italian filmmaker, Lina Wertmeuller's best. Giancarlo Gianini stars as a petty thief living off his seven unattractive sisters. He deserts the army during World War II and is then captured by the Germans and sent to a prison camp, where he does anything to survive. Through flashbacks, we learn about his accidental murder of one sister's lover, his imprisonment in an insane asylum, and his volunteering to be a soldier to escape confinement. Although this film shows the horrors of living in war-torn Italy, it is has some of the funniest scenes ever. Any Italiophile must see this film.
Letters to Juliet
A light rom-com, this film follows young romantic Sophia (Amanda Seyfried) as she hunts for the author of a letter placed behind a stone in Juliet's House's wall in Verona many years earlier. She convinces the much older Claire to go on a quest with her to find the love of her life, while she looks for a love of her own. It's a fluffy film, but with the Vita Bella that we all look for in a film made in Italy.
Under the Tuscan Sun
This film Single-handedly made the hilltowns of Tuscany more crowded that they need to be with divorced American women trying to emulate the author's lifestyle. Still, it's a pleasant romp through Tuscany, Rome and the Amalfi Coast as the main character tries to find herself while renovating her run down Tuscan villa. Diane Lane and the ever-appealing Lindsay Duncan star.
This film stars Marissa Tomei, Robert Downy Jr and Bonnie Hunt. Tomei's character thinks she is destined to find her soulmate after having first a ouija board and years later, a physic tell her the name of Mr. Right. Tomei and Hunt travel to Italy in search of this perfect man, only to discover real love. It's our favorite because of the scene at La Bocca della Verita where Tomei and Downey recreate the famous scene from Roman Holiday.
The ultimate 1953 Rom-Com, Audrey Hepburn stars as a royal princess out to see Rome on her own with Gregory Peck guiding her as he hides the fact that he's a reporter trying to get her story. Hepburn won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance, but the real star for us is the scene at La bocca della Verita. This film also shows how few tourists were in Rome in the 1950s with many scenes shot at famous Rome locations.
There you have it. A lit of films that should keep you occupied and in good spirits during your own lock-down. So, turn off the news for a while. Gather a loved one close--but not too close--and enjoy these great films.
Andrà tutto bene...
--Jerry Finzi, GVI
This short, 20 minute video will explain the basics of the Roman Empire, from it's beginnings to its fall. Very concise, informative and with enough information to inspire you to learn even more about the Ancient Romans. I can't recommend it enough. Pour an espresso, relax and open your mind...
Click Below to Watch the Video...
The ocarina belongs to a very old family of instruments, believed to date back over 12,000 years, with varied versions made of bone, clay, wood and other materials. Many cultures have used them for song and dance. Variations have come from China, Japan, the Americas and they came to Europe via the trade routes of Eurasia.
The modern Ocarina used throughout the world today was invented in Budrio, Italy, during the mid-nineteenth century by Giuseppe Donati. Its shape recalls the elongated ovoid profile of a goose (oca in Italian) without the head: the name is derived from ucarina, diminutive of oca in Bolognese dialect.
Donati invented the modern version of the ocarina in 1853 at 17 years old. Donati built a variety of large and small ocarinas tuned to each other, making it possible to place in concert with each other. Donati had made five ocarinas of different sizes, each having holes for all ten fingers, which ranged from bass and treble, an extension of notes tuned to the piano. With the help of other musicians, he assembled the "Concert of Ocarinas", each evening performing around town playing in taverns and private houses.
The haunting sound of a vintage, bass ocarina is played in this video.
The town of Budrio in the province of Bologna hosts the International Ocarina Festival each year in early spring. It's an event dedicated to the sound and atmosphere created by the ocarina, with the participation of guest musicians and makers from all over the world. The Festival is organized by the municipal district of Budrio with concerts, musical entertainment on the streets, exhibits, folk dancing and many other activities.
This video shows the possibilities of using the ocarina for complex, classical musical performances, with a full range of octaves available for each musician.
The oculus of the Pantheon is 24 feet in diameter and surprisingly is the only source of light (it is fairly bright under the dome). It represents the link between the temple and the gods above. The oculus is open to the rain, but the floor is slanted toward central drains cut into the marble floor.