You are walking in place were decades ago it was filled with actors, divas, directors and people working in the film industry. That place is Cinecittà which in English means Cinema City and indeed it is one! The Cinecittà Shows Off is a cultural project that opens the studios to the public and invites them to explore the magic of Italian cinema and the process of filmmaking in general while relaxing in a beautiful and serene park under the blue sky.
The studios were created in 1937 during the fascism in Italy under the authority of Benito Mussolini both as a mean of spreading propaganda and of reviving the then in decline Italian cinema. These studios were gigantic and as technologically advanced as their American counterparts. The slogan that was used from Mussolini for the boosting of the Italian film production was "Il cinema è l'arma più forte" ("Cinema is the most powerful weapon").
During the World War II, the studios were bombed by the Allies. Later, they were used as camps for displaced people. In the 1950s, after the war, the studios were rebuilt and many large American productions were filmed there like Ben-Hur, Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn. That period of 1950’s and 1960’s was called Hollywood on the Tiber. That same period, Federico Fellini housed his neorealism films there, including his La Dolce Vita. In 1991, the studio hosted the Eurovision Song Contest.
In the late 1990s, the studios nearly bankrupt and were privatized. In the 2000s two fires destroyed some of the sets. Recent notable productions in the studios are the tv-shows Rome, The Young Pope and the films Anthony Minghella's The English Patient, Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York, Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. In 2011, Cinecittà Studios has been open to the public with the project Cinecittà Shows Off, allowing to the public to immersed in Italian filmmaking, film studio architecture and history. In addition, in 2014, Cinecittà World, an amusement park was created in another film studio by Dino De Laurentiis, a prolific Italian film producer, nearby.
The Cinecittà Shows Off is a great opportunity to see all of these. Either by walking on your own or joining a guided tour (with no additional price to the ticket, but English tours are at a specific time), you will discover the sets which will fool you with their authenticity. Most of the sets are outdoors so you walk around in a very calm atmosphere surrounded by nature (and of course props!). You can walk around the sets, discover at your own pace familiar places or replicas of known sites like Ancient Rome or Florence in 1400 or Jerusalem and maybe get in the middle of a fight between the gangs of New York!
There is a café to drink your Italian coffee or to grab a snack. The café is film-inspired with indoor and outdoor tables. In the café, there is also, a small bookshop with film related material and memorabilia with the Cinecittà logo on them at a very affordable price.
The buildings host three thematic exhibitions. The first one is called “Why Cinecittà” and depicts the history of the studio, its architectural structure and Federico Fellini’s role in Italian cinema. The second one, entitled “Shooting in Cinecittà” explores the films shot in there and the history of cinema. The third and last exhibition named “Backstage” presents different processes of the film-making.
Overall, a visit in the Cinecittà studios has everything. Exhibitions, a café, a bookstore and large outdoor areas to enjoy the sun, the relaxing atmosphere and the massive sets that will transport you to other places in time.