Filmmaking in Rome

Roman films Famous Roman films: La Dolce Vita

As well as having produced directors of the calibre of Fellini and Rossellini, Rome is also host to Cinecittà, one of the world's great film studios. The city has also provided the setting for films such as Ladri di Biciclette (Bicycle Thieves) and other classics of the Italian neo-realist movement. See our section about Films set in Rome for more.


Originally built by Mussolini's government to further the cause of fascism, Rome's great film complex provided facilities for many of the great epics from the middle of the last century, including Ben Hur and Cleopatra. Although Cinecittà's fortunes fell in the '80s, it has now been privatised and is once again a key part of the international filmmaking community. There are even plans to open a theme park - Cinecittà World.

Italian Neorealism

Although the first neorealist film is usually held to be Visconti's Ossessione in 1943, the genre is primarily seen as a product of post-war Italy. It is also very much a Roman genre - key films including Roma, Città Aperta (Rome, Open City) and Bicycle Thieves, in which a man and his young son wander the streets of Rome in search of the father's stolen bicycle. The genre was characterized by a focus on the poor of Italy and the use of non-professional actors, often children. Neorealist films are largely filmed out on the streets of Rome partly because during the mid-forties, the filmmakers had been denied use of Cinecittà's production facilities (it was first used as a refugee camp, and then closed down by the Americans). The last film of the genre is usually said to be the 1952 film Umberto D., although later films like Antonio Pietrangeli's Adua e le Compagne show a strong neorealist influence.