Dilit Italian School

The meaning of Dolce Vita


The meaning of “dolce vita” is a question asked from one of the student during my Italian wine workshop yesterday afternoon. I think it is interesting to share this information with you.This expression is known and used in many countries around the world.

In many cases it is referred to as an attitude, a lifestyle ascribed to the Italians. Surely enough, for many people Italy means holidays, sun, sea, mountains or it is associated with music, opera, the bel canto and also to cuisine, wine, ancient history, fashion, arts and archeology, sport cars, … and Italians enjoy all of this of course. Anyway it is true that this country offers all that I have talked about in abundance.

The expression “dolce vita” refers to a famous and fortunate movie by Federico Fellini, which is so titled. It is a movie of the Sixties which won the Palme d’Or at the 13th Cannes Film Festival as well as an Oscar for costumes.

The movie is set at the end of the Fifties. Rome was a lively city well recovered from the disasters of the second world war. These were the years that would be called “economic boom”, with the will to live and to enjoy beauty, the climate and the entertainment of this very beautiful city. At Cinecittà – the Italian film studios- not only Italian but also American movies are shot. Rome was a meeting point for actors and movie directors, adventurers, intellectuals, artists and bored aristocrats.

The images of sensationalist journalists and photographers in particular were exported to the rest of the world. They have been called “paparazzi”, which comes from the name of a photographer of the movie, Paparazzo. Fellini and Flaiano, the movie screenwriter, drew the inspiration from the character of a George Gissing’s book, “Sulla riva dello Jonio”, which Fellini was reading at the time. Coriolano Paparazzo was the name of the owner of the hotel which hosted the English writer in Catanzaro during his trip in Italy in 1897.

Via Veneto, a well-known street of Rome between Termini station and villa Borghese, was the center of the “dolce vita”. In this street’s clubs, big parties full of “beautiful people” used to take place. In the same street, the Grand Hotel (Westin today), Excelsior and the cafe-restaurants Doney and Café de Paris were the mythical clubs of those years. Not far, in the Trieste district, there were the Piper discotheque and the Valle Club restaurant.

This expression, which is much more used abroad than in Italy, still reminds us of a cheerful lifestyle full of worldly pleasures.

Come to Rome and find out yourself about the meaning of “dolce vita”!


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