Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Rome Journal: Monica Vitti Sightings

Federico Fellini mythologized the Via Veneto in La Dolce Vita.Yes, the one that begins with the statue of Christ hanging off a helicopter, flying over Rome's Parco degli Acquedotti. And the street became the grail for a generation drawn to the glamour and sophistication of Italian life--together with an anomie among the upper class embodied in the fashionable existentialism of the fifties. In L’Avventura Antonioni made Monica Vitti, the Madonna of Unhemlichkeit or estrangement. But does that Rome still exist today? If you’re looking to rescue a glamorous and fashionably dressed lost soul, it’s unlikely you’re going to find her or him on the Via Veneto or anywhere else, including the Largo di Argentina, of “Et tu, Brut?” fame. Go to Palazzo Bonaparte on the Piazza Venezia (where the current exhibit is "Impressionisti segreti") at the corner of Vittorio Emanuele and the Corso, one of the busiest intersections of Rome. You're unlikely to find any Monica Vitti look-alikes (primarily because they were a figment of a filmmaker's imagination). Just for the record Monica Vitti is now 88. You’ll have better luck if you step into an art house back in the states which is playing La Grande Beliezza, where the glamorous Rome has a Second Coming. But if you can’t find the real life characters,  Rome is still loaded with sites and you can literally live through the memories of a world created in film by journeying to the places where the great classics of Italian cinema which used Rome as their backdrop, Rossellini's Open City,  Pasolini's Mamma Roma and Fellini's Roma were originally shot.

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