Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

La Bella Italia

I was watching TV yesterday evening. There was a news summary at 8pm with breaking news – earthquake in Los Angeles. Now you may not know this but #2 son is in LA at the moment, staying with his dad – cue moment of panic. Yes, I know that they said there were no casualties but HOW DO THEY KNOW?!!!! I spent a few anxious moments trying to get through on the phone and finally spoke to precious son, who was mightily cross that he hadn’t even noticed the earthquake….panic over.

I was watching another of my favourite films “Tea with Mussolini’ a fabulous film starring those wonderful ‘grande dames’ of cinema, Joan Plowright, Maggie Smith and Judi Dench and not to mention the fabulous Cher. It is set in Florence and one of my favouritest bits of Tuscany, gorgeous San Gimigniano.

Before I start off on (yet) another rhapsody about Italy, I’m going to do a bit of a left turn at the lights (so to speak) and tell you about another of my all time favourite films, which stars Cher – and Nicholas Cage (in probably the least irritating film role he has ever played) ‘Moonstruck’ which although set in New York is about a wonderful Italian family.

As we seem to have (yet another) nice Italian theme going, let me mention a few more films I love which show Italy off beautifully

  • Room with a View with gorgeous Helena Bonham Carter
  • Roman Holiday with my all time favourites Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck
  • The Talented Mr Ripley starring Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow. (incidentally, the music in this clip is by Chris Botti who is an immensely talented trumpet player and gorgeous hunk, who I met once in Los Angeles, having tea at my friends Claire and Julia’s house. I have just been adding a link to his web site and guess what his new album is called……Italia! Just too spooky.)
  • La Dolce Vita a masterpiece by Federico Fellini starring Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg.
  • Don’t Look Now – a very spooky movie set in Venice, starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland
  • Death in Venice Visconti’s wonderful film starring Dirk Bogarde set on the Lido in Venice
  • Il Postino – a film set in Sicily about the Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda and his postman – gorgeous poetry, as this clip shows. A very sweet romantic movie.

I know there are lots more but these are my favourites. I found this gorgeous clip of the aria “O mio babbino caro’ by Puccini, (which was used as the theme tune for the movie “Room with a View’) accompanied by wonderful images of Pisa. How gorgeous is this…

and a little Italian flavoured joke for you geeky folk!

Of course, it has not escaped my notice that Italy is also one of the homes of a certain Mr George Clooney – he has a villa overlooking Lake Como. I told you, we are meant to be together. I can see myself living here…

Well, I think I have just about done with my appreciation of Italy. Surprisingly, I’m not going there on holiday this year unfortunately. I can’t complain though as I am going to Los Angeles for a couple of weeks at the end of August (earthquakes permitting). Maybe I’ll bump into George….

22 responses to “La Bella Italia

  1. Carol July 30, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    What a gorgeous post! Thank you for a feast of Italian clips and references.

  2. Diane July 30, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Hi Carol
    So glad you enjoyed them – it’s hard not to be inspired by Italy, such a wonderful country :-)
    Glad you are back blogging – I envy you a month in New Zealand – never been there but would love to. One day…. :-)

  3. Michael July 30, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Whereas you “can’t judge a book by its cover,” you often can judge one by its title(!); this, I’ve found, is especially true with films. Even though I’ve never seen “Tea with Mussolini,” its title grabs me: an awkward mix between the refined (you Brits, you know) and the blustery (of course, Il Duce)…but I really have to see it.

    I’m with you on some of your favorite films: Death in Venice (also read Mann’s short novel) and Il Postino are masterpieces; even though La Dolce Vita has is oftentimes very self-indulged, much ado about nothing moments (well, that’s Fellini), it’s often superb; Roman Holiday is an absolute delight; Don’t Look Now…after seeing that film (while in Venice!!!), I was LOOKING over my shoulder all over the place.

    Nice post. I enjoy your free and spontaneous, yet well-ordered, style of writing. (By the way: California’s earthquake scares are usually just that…scary; but I’m happy that all is well with your sons.) See You!

  4. strugglingwriter July 30, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    I’m glad your son is OK.

    Don’t forget us little people when you’re living in Italy with Clooney :)

  5. Diane July 30, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Michael – ‘Tea with Mussolini’ is one of those films that is a wonderful mix of fun and seriousness. The Brits in it are generally only playing themselves but they do it so beautifully and the addition of two American actresses, Cher and Lily Tomlin into the mix, just spices things up even more. I love it.
    Glad you enjoyed reading this – that’s my aim :-)

    SW – As if! You would all be invited to stay with me, well, us, in Lake Como. Don’t forget to pack your swimming things…. :-D

  6. Teresa July 30, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    There was an earthquake in L.A.? Didn’t hear of this one, but CA is pretty earthquake prone. Price you gotta pay for living in a beautiful place. Glad your son is fine though!

    I loved Room with a View, and, as you know, Roman Holiday. :) I have to remember to put Cinema Paradiso on my Netflix queu still.

    Cute joke with the Leaning Tower. LOL!

  7. 70steen July 30, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    A friend of mine has just come back from Pisa this week and spookily had just been speaking to her about it a few moments ago.
    She has fallen in love with Italy, the chicness & friendliness of the people, the beauty of it all but above all the Vespas lol

    Great Italian film fest, I have seen them all barring La Dolce Vita and Il Postino. Simply love ‘The Talented Mr Ripley and Roman Holiday is such a feel good Saturday matinee movie :-D

  8. AmyH July 30, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    I’m glad your son is OK! Scary! My mom lives in Southern California, but didn’t feel the quake either.

    You’re making me sad to be going to Paris this year–and how can anyone be sad to go to Paris? Apparently when you dangle Tuscany and Puccini in front of one’s eyes! I love your movies set in Italy/Italian movie list. I’ve seem most of them, and will update my Netflix queue with the ones I haven’t. It could take a while, but I’ll get to them.

  9. Daddy Papersurfer July 30, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    Nicholas Cage – pah – so far up himself he can play with his own uvula. I think I’ve mentioned the travesty of ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ before ………. so I won’t mention it again.

    Un alberino bello Diane delectable – avete evocato una terra di calore e di piacere – tee hee

  10. Diane July 30, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Teresa – 5.8 apparently. #2 son was in the car and didn’t feel it, his dad had just stepped out of car and did, #2 son was mightily disappointed!
    We don’t have Netflix but it sounds like a great idea, whatever it is!

    70s – That is a coincidence! Lucky her! I need another Italian fix soon. We seem to have very similar taste in movies, I’m sure you will adore ‘Il Postino’ in particular :-)

    AmyH – Paris is wonderful too. I spent my honeymoon and many of my 25 wedding anniversaries there, so know it well. Discovered Italy relatively late in life and it just has the edge for me… :-)
    Netflix again, I’m envious :-)

    DP – didn’t realise Nicholas Cage was a contortionist.
    Ha!! I just put the Italian sentence you wrote through my translator widget and it translated the first bit as ‘ A beautiful starter shaft’ I guess you meant ‘a beautiful post’! Love it!
    I’m was coming over all weak at the knees until that made me laugh :-D

  11. laketrees July 31, 2008 at 4:05 am

    good to hear that your son is ok ..
    earthquakes can be scary :0
    and yes Diane..
    you and George would make a great couple and you probably have more of a chance running into him in LA :)
    terrific selection of films….
    lol @ the leaning tower :)

  12. Margaret July 31, 2008 at 6:02 am

    I was on the 12th floor of our building at work in West L.A. when we began to sway back and forth. What a fun ride…wheee!!!!

    It’s been a long time since I saw Tea with Mussolini, now I have to go add it to my Netflix queue because you’ve got me wanting to see it again! I just saw Maggie Smith in some wierd film where she plays a mysterious nanny and it’s got Kirsten Scott Thomas and I can’t recall who else. I think it came out in 2005, but I caught it on cable or something. Dang…what was the name of it? Hold on while I go check imdb…….

    Oh yeah… it was called Keeping Mum. A quirky little funny little dark little thing.

  13. scratchbags July 31, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Aah! Another post on Italy. I have watched Roman Holiday and II Postino and simply love it. I have a major crush on George Clooney and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get over with it. He is just too hot! You are making me impatient about visiting Rome soon.

  14. Diane July 31, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Kim – my ex answered the phone and said ‘It was awful, some buildings collapsed, cars were overturned…..we only narrowly escaped……………….just joking! We hardly noticed a thing.’
    He always did know how to wind me up! Monkey.
    Me and George – just has to happen.

    Margaret – 12 floors up! That must have been a bit disconcertng to say the least!
    Netflix again! Need to find out if we have anything similar over here. Haven’t seen ‘Keeping Mum’ but it sounds right up my street!I hope there aren’t any earthquakes when I’m there in September….

    Scratchbags – I promise no more Italy (for a while anyway). I’m sorry to tell you but George is mine! Kim at Laketrees and I did a deal that I can have him (can’t remember who I traded for him but I got George – sorry!)
    You can visit Rome as a consolation prize….. :-)

  15. Daddy Papersurfer July 31, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Laughing works for me ……. tee hee

  16. writinggb July 31, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    I’m from Calif originally and have lived through many quakes. My sister still lives there, ten minutes from the epicenter, in fact. I had heard nothing about a quake. Then I read my email and saw a note from my sister assuring me that she was okay! My heart leapt up. What?? Apparently, though low on the shake-o-meter scale, 5.6, it was strong enough where she lives to shake things off the shelves all over the house and scare the livin daylights out of her.

    Have fun there in August…!

  17. Diane July 31, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    Eek! That would be scary! Hopefully, that will be that for a long time. A very long time…

  18. scratchbags August 1, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    No Diane, I’d love many more posts from Italy.:) Okay I will have a debate with you on George Clooney’s part once the friendship day is

  19. Teresa August 2, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    5.8 sounds like something your son should have felt. Too preoccupied with other things? ;)

    NetFlix is a DVD rental company that sends you movies/shows by mail, or you can watch some things online. They have various plans (in the summer, we just do the one DVD at a time deal, but you can go up to, uh, whatever number at a time you want). I like that I don’t have to drive to a DVD rental place.

  20. Diane August 3, 2008 at 12:10 am

    I checked Netflix out and I think they are aiming to open up in the UK in the future. We do have a similar thing I now realise – it’s called Lovefilm.

    I bought my first movie from iTunes the other day – worked very well – and I could have rented it too. I’m not sure they have a huge back catalogue though…

  21. Diane August 3, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Lo, TG – just found your comment in my spam!! Don’t know why that happened as you have commented before.

    I will check out the one you suggest too. I love movies and would prefer to watch a film rather than ordinary TV any day :-)

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