Once in the centre of town, go into Palazzo Chigi which should be on your left. In the 1960s the sumptuous residence of the Chigi Princes was chosen by Luchino Visconti to shoot some of the most famous scenes in his film The Leopard (Il Gattopardo), based on the eponymous novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. It was in these very rooms that the beautiful Angelica (Claudia Cardinale) danced with Prince Tancredi (Alain Delon) in one of the scenes that brought this film so much success. Indeed this fact has only recently come to light: the Chigi family are very reserved and never let it be known that Visconti had used their home to reconstruct the very Sicilian Palazzo di Donnafugata.
Whereas there have been many stories in newspapers and magazines about the Palazzo’s role for a large part of the filming on the RAI Uno TV drama Orgoglio, following the saga of the Obrofari family.
Not many people know that Ariccia was also used as the location for Due soldi di speranza by Renato Castellani and Il nemico di mia moglie, a film from 1959 about sport and a passionate love story between a football fan and an angry wife, starring Vittorio De Sica, Marcello Mastroianni and Giovanna Ralli.
Finally, you may remember that Ariccia’s bridge featured in A Day for Lionhearts (Un giorno da Leoni), directed by Nanni Loy in 1961.
Take 2: Marino and Fellini’s “swindlers”
From Ariccia, take the road up the hill heading to Rocca di Papa. At the crossroads, on the left, turn into Via dei Laghi and go to Marino. This is where Federico Fellini shot his film The Swindlers (Il bidone) in 1955. It stars Giulietta Masina and Broderick Crawford, who was involved in funny story about the making of this film. It was the end of April when the village celebrates the famous annual Wine Feast. For the American actor it was love at first sight: coming into contact with the sweet nectar was his road to ruin. The actor disappeared for two days and Fellini would tell how he found him completely drunk, sleeping in a ditch. And years later, other cast members recounted how Crawford “was totally drunk, from morning to night, to the point where he wasn’t able to act”. Nevertheless, his performance was dubbed by the critics (those working in film, not in the field of wine) as excellent!
Take 3: Albano
Going back onto the Via dei Laghi you can see the placid waters of Lake Albano. In this area you can find some of the backdrops Fellini used for Nights of Cabiria / Le notti di Cabiria (the centre of Castelgandolfo, the lake and the Palazzolo woods) and his chapter for Spirits of the Dead/Tre passi nel delirio (Toby Dammit), in which a wild-eyed Terence Stamp challenges bad luck and the devil by racing his car at top speed along these local roads.
If you fancy, you can go down to the banks of the lake. It was from these waters that a body emerged in the 1975 film Calling All Police Cars (A tutte le auto della polizia), starring Enrico Maria Salerno and Gabriele Ferzetti.
Take 4: Genzano Just past Ariccia, after travelling through the small village of Galloro, you reach Genzano. This was the location used for some scenes in the films The Road to Hope (Il cammino della speranza) by Pietro Germi and The Stolen Children (Il ladro di bambini) by Gianni Amelio (the scenes the director set in the Civitavecchia orphanage were actually shot inside the Oratorio dei Salesiani). And if you head for the former Casa del Fascio, now an Institute named after “Sandro Pertini”, you can find some of the interiors used for Il federale, one of Luciano Salce’s best and most important films, with a great performance by Ugo Tognazzi in the role of fascist Pirro Arcovazzi, who aspires to upgraded to the rank of “federale”. Take 6: Velletri
Take 5: Nemi and its surroundings with Totò
If you’re a fan of Totò you’ll probably know that the famous Neapolitan comic made some of his funniest films in this area: from Toto, Peppino, and the Hussy, shot at Montecavo, to Sette ore di guai, set in Marino, to Totò and Carolina, made between Frattocchie and Cecchina, and the famous chapter called La patente in the film Questa è la vita, with “prince” De Curtis playing a man up in court for casting spells, shot in the characteristic lanes of Nemi.
It’s only a few minutes’ drive from Nemi to Velletri. Here Pupi Avati directed a few scenes for his 1987 picture The Last Minute (Ultimo minuto), about the adventures of Walter Ferroni, the owner of a football team who’s fallen on bad times. Ferroni is played by Ugo Tognazzi, who actually owned a villa here, his favourite place to rest and cook with his friends Gian Maria Volontè, Andreina Pagnani and Eduardo de Filippo, which helped make Velletri one of the most popular spots with Italian actors.
Take 7: the Pratoni del Vivaro
Lying above Velletri and Nemi is the large green area beloved by horse-riding fans called the Pratoni del Vivaro. It was here Mario Monicelli filmed the countryside scenes for Il marchese del Grillo, masterfully performer by an Alberto Sordi in top form. But Frascati - the birthplace of Tino Buazzelli, the corpulent Frà Bartolomeo in Fantasmi a Roma – is certainly the most cinematographic location in the hill top towns surrounding Rome.
Take 8: Frascati
You arrive at Frascati from Pratoni del Vivaro going by way of Grottaferrata. If you remember Poveri ma belli by Dino Risi, you’ll recall the square with the San Pietro Vathedral and the Supercinema. And if you watch Il Vigile by Luigi Zampa, you’ll discover traffic cop Alberto Sordi was ready to flirt with the beautiful Sylva Koscina whose car had broken down just outside the town. Villa Torlonia appears in Metello by Mauro Bolognini, while Hotel Colonna was used for shooting some scenes in My Best Enemy (Il mio miglior nemico) by Carlo Verdone. But the town can be spotted in other films too: from La califfa by Alberto Bevilacqua to The Nanny (La balia) by Marco Bellocchio.