Over the decades, Milan has revealed itself for the modern metropolis it is on the silver screen, in unforgettable masterpieces and cult films.
27 Nov 2020
Some cities are pure cinema. Captured on camera by the greatest directors, their essence is forever imprinted in the collective imagination. Just think of Fellini’s Rome, Paris in black and white photographed by Godard, or the New York of Woody Allen’s films. The seventh art has often spoken the Milanese dialect, making it an ideal basis for a cinematic tour to discover the city’s hidden gems.
“Totò, Peppino e... la malafemmina” (Camillo Mastrocinque, 1956)
Brothers Antonio and Peppino Caponi travel from Naples to Milan on the trail of their nephew Gianni. The young man, a medical student, has fallen in love with Marisa, an avant-garde dancer, and followed her up North. The brothers want to get the kids to break up the relationship, and try and persuade Gianni to come home. The square where the Caponi brothers meet (“noio... volevam savuar...”) is obviously the unmistakable Piazza Duomo in Milan. Fun fact: this scene had to be shot five times because policeman Franco Rimoldi kept on cracking up...
“Ieri, oggi, domani” (Vittorio De Sica, 1963)
Directed by Vittorio De Sica, this 1963 film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1965. Starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, the film is presented in three episodes. The episode filmed in Milan was the second, in which Anna, a rich lady, has a love affair with a man of modest extraction. Milan has many locations where we can relive the magic of Ieri, oggi, domani. For example, Anna crashes into a car stopped at a pedestrian crossing on Via Carlo Marochetti and the corner of Via Giuseppe Avezzana. The stretch of road where Anna insistently tries to overtake the small car in front of her, admitting that she “has lived without understanding the reasons of others”, is on Via Carlo Marochetti, at the intersection of Via Vittorio Barzoni. The street where Renzo and Anna pass by and comment on the billboards is Viale Fulvio Testi in Cinisello Balsamo, by the Turin-Trieste highway overpass.
“Maledetto il giorno che t’ho incontrato” (Carlo Verdone, 1992)
Played by Carlo Verdone, Bernardo is a Rome-born journalist transplanted to Milan, finishing work on a biography of Jimi Hendrix. He’s seeing an analyst because he’s been suffering from depression and hypochondria since his partner left him. During his sessions he meets Camilla, an actress full of complexes who, like him, makes extensive use of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medicine. The house where Bernardo lives is on Via Ciovasso; Analyst Altieri’s office is on Piazza Castello. To exorcise their fears, Camilla and Bernardo ride a Ferris wheel at the former Varesine amusement park in Viale della Liberazione in Milan. The whole area is currently being redeveloped. Bernardo does an interview on Richard Benson’s programme about Hendrix at the real RAI studios in Milan, on Corso Sempione.
“Chiedimi se sono felice” (Massimo Vernier, and Aldo, Giovanni and Giacomo, 2000)
Most of Italy’s most famous comic trio’s films are set in Milan. Chiedimi se sono felice is no exception. In this movie, three friends have a dream of producing a play but fall out over a woman. Milan is the real star of the script. We start with the basketball game in Piazza Mercanti, when after a tragicomic dinner the three of them wander through town at night and improvise a pick-up game with some policemen in the city centre. Another memorable scene is famous for the line, “Giacomo guarda, le paparette”, when during an outing the trio ride their bikes along the Pavese Naviglio. There’s also the memorable scene in which Giacomo replaces Giovanni as a mime at a department store – that store was Coin, in Piazza 5 Giornate.
“Cado dalle nubi” (Gennaro Nunziante, 2009)
Directed by Gennaro Nunziante, this comedy stars a young singer from Polignano, played by Checco Zalone, who works part-time for his uncle’s firm as a bricklayer but dreams of making it big in showbiz. After breaking up with his long-term girlfriend Angela, he moves to Milan and bunks with his cousin Alfredo, hoping to get his big break. Checco’s adventures begin in the Abbey of Morimondo, a few kilometres from Milan, in Piazza San Bernardo where he helps out some young people in the cloister. Much of the subsequent footage was shot in the city’s streets and buildings.
Where to stay in Milan
A trip around Milan reliving cult scenes from movies that have made Italian cinema history warrants a real filmstar stay… A good place to start is at Maison Milano | UNA Esperienze, where luxury and elegance come together, overlooking the Duomo of Milan in the very heart of the city. UNAHOTELS Century Milano is an elegant suite hotel a stone’s throw from Milano Centrale station and Porta Nuova. Still in the centre of town, why not opt for UNAHOTELS Cusani Milano: its location between the Duomo and the Castello Sforzesco makes it perfect for exploring the unique Brera district. If you’re looking for a convenient place to stay outside the city, UNAHOTELS Expo Fiera Milano and UNAHOTELS Malpensa are a perfect solution, respectively in the Pero area and near the airport.