When in Verano: Casa Dei Morti in Rome
It’s not one of my fetishes to name cemeteries for the great dead. It’s just history. Apologies for making the third post of this.
Established in the early 19th century, Campo Verano was built outside the walls of the old town with considerable architecture and carvings to do. It was continually expanded until the 1960s, covering 83 hectares of land. Control of the cemetery was once in the hands of the Vatican as the Basilica of San Lorenzo is nearby, containing the tombs of several popes. However, the cemetery was later divided into a Catholic area, a Jewish area, and those who died in World War I. Today, people can visit the cemetery due to its historical relevance in the field of art with surviving sculptures..
Now for the notables who are here, I know you are all interested (or not). Paolo Sorrentino’s film The Divo covers the scandalous years of Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, interned in Verano. The same goes for Alberto Moravia, a novelist whose books would be adapted to the cinema The conformist and Two women. Singer and tragic heartthrob Rino Gaetano and Mussolini’s mistress executed with him, Clara Petacci, were also buried here in Campo Verano along with some of these legends of Italian cinema.
Vittorio De Sica (1901-1974)
One of the leading figures of Italian neorealism, De Sica was a paradox; being Roman Catholic and politically communist when the church denounced communism. It is indeed a mixture in which he made films about the poor and the working class with a moral tale. Two of these movies Shoe polish and bicycle thieves, would win the Honorary Oscars for Best International Picture despite not being an active competitive category. However, he won twice when it became a formal category, for Yesterday, today and tomorrow, and The Garden of the Finzi-Continis. A part-time actor, he also earned another Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in A farewell to weapons. It’s been an amazing career on both sides of the camera, making it an all-time pound-for-pound great in film.
Vittorio Gassman (1922-2000)
Gassman began as a great Italian theater actor with performances in A tram called Désir and Othello, where he co-founded the TEatro d’Arte Italiano. Adorned with the nickname ll Mattatore (The Matador), Gassman’s film career elevated his stardom with roles in many acclaimed comedies Big Deal on Madonna Street, Il Sorpasso, The Incredible Army of Brancaleone, and The perfume of a woman, the original version rather than the slop that was done with Al Pacino. Gassman was also known to the American public, in part because of his marriage to actress Shelley Winters and his participation in the musical Rhapsody alongside Elizabeth Taylor.
marcello Mastroianni (1924-1996)
One of De Sica’s stars in Yesterday, today and tomorrow, Mastroianni was an Italian acting legend and a cultural icon in the country. Famous all over the world for his dashing charisma, he has collaborated with all the great Italian directors, notably as Guido in Federico Fellini. 8 ½, no longer featured in Pietro Germi Italian Divorce, Michelangelo Antonioni the note, and Ettore Scola A special day, where it earned one of its three Oscar nominations. In eight films, he co-starred with Sophia Loren in a friendship that lasted until his death, and Mastroianni preferred to stay in Europe rather than move to Hollywood. He dated Catherine Deneuve, Claudia Cardinale and Faye Dunaway; his brother, Ruggero, was a highly regarded publisher who died months before Marcello, and both are buried in Verano.
Alberto Sordi (1920-2003)
Sordi is one of the great Italian comedians (much better than Roberto Benigni, I say) whose stature is about equal to that of Mastroianni. He first started dubbing non-Italian films in roles played by Anthony Quinn, Oliver Hardy and Robert Mitchum, as well as performing on Italian radio. Then, in the 1950s, Sordi rose to stardom with roles in I Vitelloni, The Great War, and An American in Rome among the many comedies that flourished in Italy’s post-war boom. He even won a Golden Globe for his performance in To bed or not to bed. When Sordi died, more than a quarter of a million people paid their last respects and his grave is one of the most visited in the cemetery.
Alida Valli (1921-2006)
Valli was one of the first Italian actresses to achieve success in Hollywood. First, she was a star in Fascist Italy with Mussolini declaring her, “the most beautiful woman in the world”, then signed by David O. Selznick to star in the Alfred Hitchcock film Paradine case. Returning to the country in the 1950s, she regained her footing in Luchino Visconti Senso, followed by Georges Franju’s horror masterpiece, Faceless eyes. Other major roles were on stage, including Italian adaptations of A view from the bridge and Romeo and Juliet; Valli’s other film roles include The third man (1949) and the original Suspiria (1977). Her star power in Europe was such that Valli was compared to Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo.
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