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  Cornell University

Cornell in Rome

College of Architecture, Art and Planning

Cinecittà visit!

Last week the Italian Cinema and European Cities classes merged on a visit to Cinecittà, the famous film studios that have been the center of Italian cinema since it’s creation in 1937 by Mussolini.

Cinecittà! with Jimmy Walwer - Photo by Laura Kimmel
Cinecittà! with Jimmy Walwer – Photo by Laura Kimmel

Our tour began at the lawn in which the giant head from Fellini’s Casanova is placed. The studios were founded partially for purposes of propaganda, but became a cultural icon that are still valuable to Rome.

Students Emma Guida and Kyra Spotte-Smith posing with the head from the film Casanova - Photo by Laura Kimmel
Students Emma Guida and Kyra Spotte-Smith posing with the head from the film Casanova – Photo by Laura Kimmel

From here, our guide led us down a street lined with stages- including the infamous Stage 5 where director and writer Frederico Fellini produced La Dolce Vita, and felt most at home- even having a small apartment built for himself here.

We went on to visit several outdoor sets, including one resembling Florence, part of the set for Gangs of New York, and the TV series Rome. Most of the sets are made of fiberglass, wood, and scaffolding by the on-site artists. What’s fascinating is that these sets are often reused for new projects but are always evolving to meet different needs.

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Photo by Laura Kimmel
Photo by Laura Kimmel

As a strong part of Italy’s cultural heritage, it was interesting to see the importance that Cinecitta has had for Rome- especially since it has survived several economic depressions where there were plans to sell and reappropriate portions of the studios. The opening of the studios to public tours has helped maintain the significance of Cinecittà to the public, with an understanding that it is still a place of cultural production, not an icon of past achievements.

(Text and photos by Laura Kimmel)

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