With its vermilion roofs and its long arcades, Bologna has always been the perfect set for several movies that marked the history of filmmaking. If you are a film fan, here’s a recommended itinerary you won’t regret.
The first stage will lead you straight to the heart of Bologna, just in front of the Basilica of San Petronio, whose staircase can be spotted during the ending of the movie Oedipus Rex (Edipo Re, 1967) by Pier Paolo Pasolini, when the actor Franco Citti plays the flute, sitting on the church’s white steps. Another ending scene of the movie portrays the four-sided portico of Santa Maria dei Servi (Strada Maggiore, 43), along which Oedipus, gone blind by then, is meandering.
You now move towards Piazza Galvani and the Archiginnasio, the Anatomical Theatre being the background of Professor Augusto Murri’s lessons in the movie The Murri affair (Fatti di gente perbene, 1974) by Mauro Bolognini. Influential actors such as Giancarlo Giannini and Catherine Deneuve starred in the movie, loosely based on real events related to a notorious 1902 murder trial (Delitto Murri).
At the corner between via Cartoleria and via S.Stefano, you will find the commemorative plaque recalling the birthplace of Gino Cervi, best known for his role as Mairgret and Giuseppe Bottazzi (“Peppone”) and for being the Italian dubbing actor of Laurence Olivier an Orson Welles.
Continuing along via Santo Stefano, at number 44 you’ll have the chance to admire Palazzo Davia Bargellini, the location of some scenes of the movie Incantato (Il cuore altrove, 2003) by Pupi Avati, starring Neri Marcorè and Vanessa Incontrada. The scenes of the Hunt Club are set no other than within the halls of this elegant seventeenth-century palace.
Via Borgonuovo number 4 is the address of Pier Paolo Pasolini’ birthplace, one of the most celebrated directors and intellectuals in Italy. Born in Bologna in 1922, Pasolini used to attend a film club, where he got acquainted with the movies of René Clair, Jean Renoir and Charlie Chaplin, and where, according to his own words, he developed his love for filmmaking.
If you are particularly fond of Italian comedies, treat yourself by stopping off at Piazza Santo Stefano, beloved by all Bolognese students and by Stefano, the protagonist of the hilarious movie E allora mambo! (1999). The square is the location of the meeting between Lisa and Antonia, Stefano’s wives, resulting in tragicomic consequences, to say the least.
Piazza Ravegnana is famous for housing the Two Towers, iconic symbol of Bologna. It’s the perfect spot to pay homage to the movie Ameriqua (2013), accompanied by the music of Lucio Dalla and inspired by the memories of Robert Kennedy’s grandnephew Bobby III, who spent a year studying in Bologna.
Continuing down along via Zamboni, the itinerary leads to the University Library and the imposing Aula Magna, which makes an appearance in the movie One Hundred Nails (Centochiodi, 2007) by Ermanno Olmi. The movie features a young Professor at the University of Bologna who decides to nail down to the floor the library’s most precious books, as to show his aversion against the world of culture.
Another unmissable place in this journey is the little square next to the Cineteca di Bologna, dedicated to Pier Paolo Pasolini. Two halls of the Cinema Lumière and the Renzo Renzi Library overlook the courtyard of the Cineteca, which, thanks to its rich archives and laboratories, has emerged as an internationally recognized centre in the field of film preservation and restoration.
Your itinerary ends at Piazza Medaglie d’Oro, dominated by the city’srailway station, background of one of the final scenes of the movie La banda Casaroli (1962) by Florestano Vancini, based on the vicissitudes that involved the heist crew “banda Casaroli”, who kept the whole town in check at the beginning of the 50s.