When I moved in to Rome’s Cinecittà quarter, I was thrilled to discover the Cinecittà Film Studios just down the road from my flat.
I’m a total film geek and Cinema Paradiso was actually what inspired me to go to Italy for the first time when I was eighteen. So one of the loveliest aspects of life in Rome for me was that the passion for cinema was so prevalent in daily life.
Cinecittà is the biggest and one of the longest-running film studios in Europe. Many famous productions have been made there including Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York and TV series Rome and The Borgias.
Now, Hollywood this ain’t. Both the studios and the local area were a bit shabby around the edges. On the pavement outside my apartment block there was a walk of stars, a fabulous idea but with very few names filled in and the accompanying film information was obscured by graffiti. But the film tributes had an understated and gritty feel creating an important sense of authenticity.
In other film-related news, I had the pleasure of meeting director Lenny Abrahamson at the screening of his quirky drama, Frank, during the Irish Film Festival. I also attended a live interview with British actor John Hurt at the International Film Festival of Rome. During the Q & A session afterwards, someone stood up and said ‘I don’t have a question but I’m a struggling film director, please take my script.’ And he did!
I accidentally gate-crashed a set from the James Bond movie Spectre that was being filmed outside the Museum of Roman Civilization in Rome’s modern EUR district where I used to work. It was the funeral scene. Unfortunately I was escorted off the premises before managing to take any photographs. I’m clearly not cut out to join the paparazzi. I later learnt that they had to re-do the big car-chase scenes due to all the pot holes in the Roman roads. Oops!
Sometimes living in Rome felt like being in a film. I met a wide variety of characters and found myself in quite a few random situations. There was a very real sense that anything could happen on a daily basis. Everything is dramatic there, even the weather. Rain was usually accompanied by an epic storm and in that historic city, thunder and lightning creates a highly atmospheric horror film effect. I do love a good storm and I miss those extremes of weather now that I’m in the milder climate of London.
NB) This post was originally published in 2014 on my old Italian lifestyle blog ‘Living La Vita Roma’ which I wrote while living in Rome.