"May 21, 1952. After six months of uninterrupted work at Cinecittà - Anita, Bellissima, and The Golden Coach - it's with a heavy heart that I must leave. I've worked very well here. I hope to be back. Anna Magnani." This is what the famous actress wrote in the guest book that is currently kept in the presidential building of the Studios complex in via Tuscolana. Many important signatures can be found in the logbook: Jean Renoir, Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, John Ford, Alida Valli, Cesare Zavattini.
This is just one of the surprises of Secret Cinecittà, the series of special visits that will be held during the coming weekends of April, on April 25 and May 1. Accompanied by qualified guides, guests will be granted the possibility of visiting the Cinegarden and accessing areas which are usually not accessible to the general public, such as the carpentry and the stage prop room. Guests will also have the chance to discover the rooms of the Presidential Building, a jewel of the 1930s rationalist architecture, built in 1937 following the project of architect Gino Peressutti. In the building, visitors will also admire the severity of industrial rationalism at times contaminated by elements of naval design (e.g. the portholes); the original pavements and the stairwells' banisters; rough sketches by art directors Burchiellaro, Ricceri, Dentini, and Frigeni; the inventory and the historical registers. Moreover, guest will overlook the Roman countryside from the Presidential balcony.
Exceptionally open to the public, the carpentry is at the heart of the scenographic production. Here an expert workforce preserves a decade-long tradition and makes up period settings that looks exactly like the real ones. That's what happened, for instance, with the remake of Ben-Hur, directed by Kazak-Russian director Timur Bekmambetov in 2016, or with the construction of the library labyrinth for the TV series The Name of the Rose by Giacomo Battiato. A master craftsman will show sets of samples and significant film props.
The visit to the Cinegarden, established in 2000, will guide the guests through a mix of natural and artificial elements that go composing the flower arragements used in films and TV series. Visitors will see the olive trees, with resin-made truncks and real foliage, made for Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt (2016), and the palms made with the same technique for Ben-Hur. The Prop Room 107 is then another leg of the visit, the place where both film props and set dressing elements are stored. Here visitors will discover statues, jewels, and furnitures from Imperial Rome (Rome), ancient Egypt (The Young Messiah), and the Borgia era.
It's a special journey, not necessarily for cinephile visitors only, through the unknown rooms of that dream factory that was founded in the late 1930s. Moreover, it's an occasion for visiting the exhibitions Why Cinecittà, Walking through Cinecittà, and Backstage - An educational journey through Cinecittà, besides the film settings of the ancient Rome, Jerusalem, and Renaissance Florence.