The seaside city of Rimini, once the home and lifelong inspiration of world-renowned film director, Federico Fellini, is set to open a brand new museum dedicated to his life and work in spring 2021. Last year marked the one hundredth anniversary of Fellini’s birth in Rimini, but due to the ongoing COVID crisis many of the celebrations were put on hold.
The Federico Fellini International Museum will occupy Rimini’s Renaissance Sismondo Castle, the upper floors of the city’s art-nouveau Cinema Fulgor and the outdoor space between them.
It will feature drawings, costumes, exhibitions, film showings, scenographic elements and multimedia presentations allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the world of Fellini, one of the most influential filmmakers of the twentieth century. Many of these experiences will create an immersive walkway through different indoor and outdoor points of the town, forming the Federico Fellini International Museum.
Fellini’s Rimini comes vividly to life in the warren of streets and laneways in the original fishermen’s quarter of the city where he once lived. Vibrant murals, illustrating scenes from some of his famous movies such as La Strada, Nights of Cabiria and La Dolce Vita delight fans and curious visitors.
Ireland’s brilliantly talented singer Mary Coughlan says Fellini’s Oscar winning Amarcord, set in his hometown, is her all- time favourite movie. She first saw Amarcord many years ago at University College Galway film club, and so began her lifelong love affair with Italy. The movie held a mirror up to life’s absurdities and daily dramas, drawn on the characters of Fellini’s youth.
A 15 km long beach unfolds on either side of the magnificent Grand Hotel, along ‘Riviera Romagnola’, as the Italians call this long stret.ch of sandy coast, providing Fellini with much inspiration for Amarcord, which in Rimini’s dialect translates as ‘ I remember’. Along this beach and wandering the winding streets of the charming old town of Rimini he recreated the legends of his adolescence.
Family dramas, marital infidelity, beautiful girls which the young Fellini admired and Mussolini’s deluded soldiers marching around in their fancy braided costumes are woven into the plot.
As a boy Fellini would steal into the gardens of the Grand Hotel and hide among the potted plants of its terraces. Here, unseen he spied on guests, watching glamorous women dance languidly in the arms of rich men in white tuxedoes to music from American films. Everything that happened at the Grand Hotel fascinated him. It was all unattainable, the start of Federico Fellini’s imaginary world, in which dream and reality mixed.
The welcome arrival of a Museo Fellini in Rimini had been held up for years because of a dispute between a member of his family and the foundation dedicated to him, marring his 90th birthday celebrations. It was a struggle that could have been plucked from his movie I Vitelloni, exposing narrow small town horizons and jealousies.
The Fulgor cinema in Rimini’s commercial district where part of the new museum will be housed, features a spectacular art deco interior with original romantic lighting, carved fittings and plush red seats, a fitting monument to the film maker. As a child Fellini sat on his father’s knee watching the big screen movies from Hollywood that were to provide some future inspiration but more importantly educated him to the power of cinema.
Fellini often used the Grand Hotel, a magnificent Victorian building that harks back to the grandeur and allure of top notch hospitality and overlooks its own private beach as his film set. He had a permanent suite (room 315), comprising a sumptuous bedroom with the best views, and a baroque style salon that was permanently on standby for him after he made the big time. Today the Fellini suite is the hotel’s most expensive accommodation, always in demand due to its famous associations. A visit to Rimini’s Grand Hotel for a tour of the sumptuous period interior, enjoying afternoon tea or a cocktail on the outside terrace provides a flashback to the elegant past.
Take at least a day or longer to explore Rimini properly, enjoying an Expresso, some stylish shopping and that great Italian pastime of people watching – with perhaps a comic opera in situ – at pavement cafes around the stylish Corso shopping streets. Don’t forget a stop off at Piazza Carvour, dominated by Palazzo del Podesta and the magnificent re-built Galli theatre that’s drawing a new generation of opera fans to Rimini.
Start your stroll at Italy’s oldest surviving triumphal Arch, erected in 27 BC, entrance to the centre crossing the thousands of years old Tiberius Bridge to the old fishermen’s district of cobbled laneways and Fellini street art.
For more information on Rimini https://www.riminiturismo.it/en
For Emilia Romagna https://emiliaromagnaturismo.it/en In a series of articles on interesting happenings and anniversaries around Europe in 2021 Travel Times will next explore another gem of Emilia Romagna, the World Heritage city of Ravenna.