In 1937, everyone’s favorite Fascist, Benito Mussolini (he’s actually the guy who coined the term) founded a movie studio to create propaganda films for his Nazi-sympathizing regime. Dubbed Cinecittà (‘Film City’), the studio was heavily bombed by the Allies during the war, and afterwards, its soundstages were used to house thousands of Italians who had been displaced by the war. By the 1950s, however, Cinecittà had turned into the hub of La Dolce Vita of Italian filmmaking, serving as the set for most of Federico Fellini’s films, and even American blockbusters such as Ben Hur.
Getting a tour of Cinecittà is about as easy as getting a private audience with the Pope. But, with a few well-placed phone calls by C-Monster.net‘s high-powered Hollywood agent, we managed to wrangle our way into a guided tour of the studio’s incredible backlot on a positively sweltering summer day. We saw everything from the satanic-looking sculptures that appeared in Angels and Demons to a recreation of the hilltop town of Assisi where St. Francis received the stigmata (“it’s too steep and inconvenient to film there,” said our guide of the real Assisi). Most significantly, we got to see the house where Grande Fratello, Italy’s version of Big Brother is filmed. The highlight, however, was walking through the $20 million dollar set for HBO’s Rome, a sprawling set of painted temples and forums that gave us a far better sense of the Imperial City than a year’s worth of trudging through ruins.
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