Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Eternal City Honors One of its Own: Film Legend Alberto Sordi

If you are fortunate enough to be in Rome over the next few weeks, there is a series of events currently underway that you won't want to miss. 

To mark one decade since the death of Italy's beloved character actor, Alberto Sordi, his namesake Foundation is paying homage to the iconic Roman actor with a number of commemorative initiatives. The celebrations began on February 16th when a street in Rome's sprawling park, Villa Borghese, was dedicated to Sordi. His sister, Aurelia attended the moving ceremony along with the mayor of Rome, Giovanni Alemanno. On February 23rd at the Sala Sinopoli Auditorium Parco della Musica, a concert of the "Grand Orchestra" by Gerardo Di Lella in collaboration with the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia conjured up memories the maestro of Italian Comedy, who is known for his roles in classic films like "Un Americano a Roma," "The White Sheik," and "Mafioso".

One of the most talked about events of this commemoration is a major exhibition at the grand Vittoriano Monument Complex that will run through the end of March. The multimedia exhibition consists of over 200 photographs, documents and film projections, which show the neighborhoods where the actor lived and where he shot many of his movies. The exhibition also features scripts, handwritten letters, movie posters, drawings, installations, video, audio, songs, famous phrases and many articles written by the actor and published between 1988 and 2002.
 
Alberto Sordi and Carlo verdone
Carlo Verdone, who worked closely with Sordi has been identified time and time again by the critics as his most likely successor. Together with his brother Luke, Verdone has made ​a documentary film about Sordi that will premiere a few days before the anniversary of his death. Verdone, who refers to Sordi as "an absolutely revolutionary actor," described the film as above all, a story of friendship, a beautiful story of the private aspects of a man who lived for the public. The film is a journey through the life and career of Sordi, showing the sights and landmarks of Rome to which the actor was closest. "Our documentary is a tribute to a great actor who represents the tradition of the Roman performance at the highest level, and that over the years, played a crucial part to the birth and development of the commedia all'italiana," explained Verdone.

If you are not able to attend these commemorations, but would like to celebrate Alberto Sordi's prolific career, several of his films, including the ones mentioned above, are available through Amazon.

For more information about the events and exhibitions taking place in Rome, you can visit the Alberto Sordi Foundation online at www.fondazionealbertosordi.it.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

As the Papal Conclave begins at Vatican City.. Experience Your Own Version through Film


A Scene from Ron Howard's Angels & Demons
As cardinals from around the world meet in Rome for a conclave to elect the next leader of the catholic church, we revisit a movie of the same subject. Although dark in nature, Ron Howard's 2009 thriller, Angels & Demons will transport you to Vatican City and take you through the spectacular sites and monuments of Rome. Adapted from the popular series by Dan Brown, the film takes us on a scenic tour of the Eternal City and showcases art and historical details that even the keenest eye could have missed. The story follows the characters as they set out on the "Path of the Illuminati", to four symbolic destinations in Rome, each associated with one of the elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. They are also sites known for their blending of pagan symbolism and Christianity, something I never noticed in Rome until reading the book and then watching the film. 

It all starts after the death of the Pope and the kidnapping of the four Preferiti, the main hopefuls for the papacy. Without giving away too much of the film, four major scenes take place at the following locations with the associated elements:
Earth- The church of Santa Maria del Popolo located in Piazza del Popolo
Air- The West Ponente located in St. Peter's Square
Fire- The church of Santa Maria della Vittoria near Piazza Barberini
Water- Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona

Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers
Ron Howard did such an amazing job creating a film that really takes you to another world. Most of the film was shot on the streets and actual locations in Rome. So don't be surprised if the film inspires you to book your next trip. When I was in Rome last year covering the Rome Independent Film Festival, I stopped by a few sites featured in the movie such as Piazza del Popolo, where I visited Santa Maria del Popolo to see the Chigi Chapel and Gianlorenzo Bernini's scupture, “Habakkuk and the Angel". I also went to Piazza Navona, where I paid closer attention to the Egyptian Obelisk that rises out of Bernini's "Fountain of the Four Rivers", which is also a main location in the film. I then ventured down the road known as the "Bridge of Angels" which leads to Castel Sant'Angelo, a magnificent piece of architecture that housed the remains of several Roman emperors including Hadrian and the notorious Caracalla. The grand structure was a key location throughout the film.

If the film inspires you to embark on your own Angels & Demons adventure, you can do as I did and run around on your own, which could be a bit exhausting, or you could enlist the help of a pro.There are dozens of tour companies in Rome that offer tours of these beautiful Roman locations. One tour company that I can recommend is, Stefano Rome Tours.  Stefano Costantini is the owner and a highly respected and experienced tour director in Rome. Costantini is Roman and knows the streets and neighborhoods of the Eternal City like only a native could. He speaks fluent English and takes much pride in the successful business that he has built. He offers a comprehensive all-day tour of the locations in the film, and you won't have to pound the pavement!  Costantini has a fleet of drivers and luxury cars, so you can enjoy the tour in style and comfort. For more information on the Angels & Demons tour through Stefano Rome Tours,  visit the website at.. www.stefanorometours.com/tours/angelsanddemons.

Trianon Borgo Pio
If you'd prefer to stay on your own, I can recommend a central location that is both beautiful and affordable.  It is a residence consisting of 45 furnished apartments in a quiet neighborhood just 5-10 minutes walking distance from the Vatican. Note: another thing that I learned.. there is a quiet neighborhood located close to the hustle and bustle of the biggest tourist attraction in Rome!  The residence is called Trianon Borgo Pio and is located in a little neighborhood called Borgo Pio. I chose this residence because of its close proximity to the "Angels and Demons" locations.  I was thoroughly impressed by the accommodations. You can find more information by visiting their website at.. www.trianonborgopio.it.

I consider this a must-do if a trip to Rome is in your future!

- Jeannine Guilyard

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