The Fellini Museum Opens in Rimini, Italy

Images by Lorenzo Burlando

It would be difficult to over-emphasize the degree to which Federico Fellini‘s 1960 masterpiece La Dolce Vita changed everything that came after it. One could argue, in fact, that the exalted Italian director prophesied contemporary celebrity culture itself.

Considering his unparalleled vision, and that he’s counted amongst the five or six greatest directors in cinematic history, it’s hard to imagine that it has taken this long – but a museum dedicated to his monumental career has just opened in his birthplace of Rimini, in the province of Emilia Romagna. Not so much a straight-up tribute, Museo Fellini is presented more as an opportunity to be immersed in his often fantastical filmic world. The idea for it actually arose from, “the intention of restoring and interpreting his work as a key to connect tradition and contemporaneity, showcasing the beauty that comes from his ideas and art.” So, yes – a notion truly worthy of Il Maestro.

Intriguingly, it’s spread over three different sites in the center of the city: the 15th Century Castel Sismondo, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi (he of Florence’s Duomo); the 18th Century Palazzo del Fulgor, whose eponymous cinema was prominently featured in Amarcord, and now boasts sets by three-time Oscar winner Dante Ferretti; and the Piazza Malatesta, an immense plaza surrounded by majestic 15th Century architecture, and dotted with green spaces for performance and art installations.

Within the exhibition areas, most striking is a prodigious sculpture of Anita Eckberg, who legendarily played the glamorous movie star Sylvia in Le Dolce Vita. But with more than five hours of film clips, and exhibits arranged as a kind of audio-visual narrative tracing the “creative flow” of Fellini’s work, visitors are meant to feel as if they have been placed directly into his cinematic world, one in which both reality and fantasy were so deftly interwoven. Most fascinatingly, a special section displays original set designs, objects and photos, plus costumes by Danilo Donati, and notebooks that belonged to Nino Rota, the composer who scored so many of his films.

What surely made Fellini like no other director was that he was so equally adept at being prophetic and nostalgic, with a film like Juliet of the Spirits exploring female empowerment before such a thing had actually even been defined, and another like Amarcord so sentimentally referencing his own childhood. And what the Fellini Museum so thoughtfully offers is a chance to, just for awhile, escape into the considerable depths of his creativity and viscerality, and surely come out all the better for it.

Stay: Grand Hotel Rimini

A classic European grand hotel first built by the Societa Milanese Alberghi, Ristoranti e Affini, the Grand Hotel Rimini was inaugurated all the way back in July of 1908. It was a Fellini favorite, and even makes an appearance in Amarcord. It now offers contemporary/historic luxury elegantly overlooking the Adriatic sea. Interiors feature 18th century French furnishings, Murano chandeliers, and Belle Epoque style lounges, while beautifully designed rooms have parquet flooring and travertine marble bathrooms.

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