Tuesday, September 07, 2010

I Remember

One of my favorite Italian movies is Federico Fellini's 1973 Amarcord (A m'arcord - I Remember). It is a film I can watch over and over again and find a constant delight - a funny reminiscence of the director's youth in Fascist Rimini touched with the sadness of growing up. As he - and we - remember things they are always bigger than they really were - the snow banks from an unusual snow fall hide people from sight, the luxury liner REX has 20 decks, a visiting Sultan has 50 wives - memory is also kind to those we love and less kind to those we don't. Fellini is not above taking satirical swipes at both himself and his countrymen for allowing themselves to be entrapped in what he called "perpetual adolescence". Though perhaps it is that entrapment that give both this film and this country their charm and hold over me.

The Rimini (renamed Borgo in the film) Fellini captured was mostly on the sound stages of Cinecittà so anyone going to the coastal town looking for the square, the church or Titta's home will be disappointed. Though the Grand Hotel does exist and stands white and imposing on the beach front in Rimini, Fellini's Grand was in Anzio a few miles from Roma.

But that didn't stop us from making a pilgrimage, Borsolinos in hand, down the long tree lined Viale Principe Amedeo to the Parco Federico Fellini and the manicured grounds of the Grand Hotel.

Lunch in the enormous - and almost empty - dining room and a walk around the hotel confirmed that this was indeed a "Grand" hotel in the old style. And though the grand staircase in the lobby and seafront veranda may have been only the chiaroscuro of Fellini's memory it had the atmosphere that he captured so well.

Just off the lobby - as in all Grand Hotels - there were the telephone booths, all set for you to make that important overseas call .....
... on SKYPE! It is now one of the Hotel's internet points.

I am often fond of rather pompously reminding people who complain about historical accuracy in films that "after all its only a movie!" I should have remembered that when planning to have my photo taken sitting on the veranda in a Felliniesque pose sipping an Aperol spritz, my bald spot shaded by my straw hat. It didn't happen; somehow though this was the Grand with all its 1920s atmosphere, it wasn't THE Grand. Or at least not the one that Fellini, and I, remembered.

07 settembre - Santa Regina
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1 comment:

David said...

Parallel pilgrimages - on Sunday we went to Eastbourne for an exhibition and I rekindled childhood memories. The Grand Hotel is where Debussy worked on (not composed) La Mer - it's very white and swish. On the whole, though, I didn't buy the Shell Guide's pronouncement that Eastbourne's front has the grandeur of Nice...