«It can happen that a hobby turns into something very demanding, to completely involve everyday life. It happened to me, almost without realizing it. The hobby is photography. To be overwhelmed by her charm is Gina Lollobrigida, the wonderful actress of Bread love and fantasy and many other iconic films of Italian cinema, who passed away on January 16 at the age of 95. She, a diva photographed and admired, chooses to be on the other side of the lens. He chooses to point his eye in the viewfinder. Because «cinema didn’t allow me to be what I wanted to be, when I painted, when I sculpted. I love nature, people, I liked studying it, discovering it. With cinema, I was the… people. So I understood that photography was a means of expressing myself and I set to work with the hope of discovering the world around me, and also a little bit of myself. Thus it was born My Italy a journey to discover my country, my people. Two years of work, one book». Published by Salani in 1972, My Italy collects 191 photographs (selected from twenty thousand negatives), between beauty and irony, of an unpublished Lollobrigida, authentic instagrammer ante litteram.
A journey that begins with his Subiaco, in the province of Rome, where he was born on July 4, 1927. In front of the lens he puts the whole town into pose: mayor, parish priest, friends «for a family portrait». An itinerary unfolds from there in stages throughout the peninsula, from Milan to Sicily, and among its people. Portraits of territories, of “types”, of situations. Ordinary people and celebrities, caught in unusual moments, outside the box. Images with short and ironic captions that complete the picture of an Italy represented inspired by “common sense”, as highlighted in the book’s presentation text Albert Moraviathe author of the books from which two films were made with a great Lollo protagonist, The provincial by Mario Soldati e The Roman by Luigi Zampa. «The Italy we live in today is different from your Italy, at least in appearance – noted the writer -. Perhaps more changes have taken place in Italy in the last ten years than in the previous ten centuries. In Italy today there is a generalized and reciprocal class struggle of all against all… In Italy there is the protest of extra-parliamentary groups. In Italy there is the conspiracy of the fascists. Finally, in Italy there is ecological destruction, urban crime, the paralysis of the state apparatus… There is none of this in your book. Your Italy is not that of left-wing newspapers; but neither is it that of the right-wing newspapers. Nor is it the Italy of the so-called silent majority. It is simply the Italy of Gina Lollobrigida». And what kind of Italy is Gina Lollobrigida’s Italy? «Your photographs speak to us of an Italy of little people, of modest artisanal works, of routine devotions, of expensive leisure activities, of family affections, of tourist landscapes, of monuments so famous as to be even invisible by now». The photograph that Moravia takes with words captures the reader’s attention, invites you to look at the images with a critical attitude and a different perspective: «The Italians had their last creative and hegemonic moment in the Renaissance and since then they have repeated with less and less success , in a world that does not know what to do with humanism, up to D’Annunzio’s parody, up to the fascist tragicomedy, up to the indifferent chiassata. However, the Italians have remained faithful to their original image; some would say: too much. And it is this fidelity that, below the images of your unpretentious, provincial and modest Italy, you show us in filigree».
The Italy of star Gina Lollobrigida is that of its Subiaco roots (where, she will be buried, after the funeral that will be celebrated tomorrow, January 19, in the church of the Artists in Rome). Her Italy becomes ours. Of all. She who embodied the archetype of Italian beauty in the world, as Brigitte Bardot was for the French one, becomes its interpreter. And now that Italy has changed so much, perhaps we should treasure that spirit, that irony and those images. Reconquering even a little the Magical innocence which gave the title to another book (San Paolo, 1993) by Lollo, dedicated to children and animals, in which she traveled with her imagination to «painting the dreamed childhood with the camera». With the hope that the “less fortunate children will find a ray of sunshine in this world full of shadows”. That book opened with a message from Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Among the texts, among others, by Gianfranco Ravasi, Bruno Forte, Carlo Bo, Carlo Rubbia. Gina Lollobrigida united everyone. Her Italy and her eyes were, are ours. From the big screen to 35 mm cameras. Now that he’s gone, his films and his characters remain. And shots of him too.
One picture and 786 words.