Walk. Close your eyes and listen.
Reopen them and observe.
Ferrara, one of the most important cities of cinema in the 20th century.
So many filmmakers were born in this city of knights and winged horses, so many directors have flocked here to set their stories. Ferrara has thus become an open-air museum of great Italian cinema in the world. Here, history, literature and the seventh art are inextricably intertwined.
Just walk through the streets of the centre, in the gardens of Piazza della Repubblica, to see Massimo Girotti eating an ice cream with Clara Calamai, with Castello Estense background. The year is 1943. The film is 'Ossessione' by Luchino Visconti.
Italian Neo-realism is born, launching Ferrara cinema in the world.
Ossessione di Luchino Visconti, 1943
Behind the two, a condottiere can be glimpsed coming out of the castle's drawbridge: it is Giovanni dalla Bande Nere, in the film 'Il mestiere delle armi', by Ermanno Olmi.
A few steps and we reach the Muretto of the Castello Estense, and it is night. We see a distinguished gentleman walking briskly towards the historic bar, to scrutinise the young man with whom he is in love. He is Doctor Fadigati, played by Philippe Noiret, in the film 'Gli occhiali d'oro', by Giuliano Montaldo, based on the novel by Giorgio Bassani.
Gli occhiali d'oro di Giuliano Montaldo, 1987
It is still night, and shots can be heard coming from the barrels of rifles held by a group of fascists. The massacre of the night of 1943, the first act of the civil war in Italy, recounted by director Florestano Vancini in his masterpiece "La lunga notte del '43" (The Long Night of '43), also based on Bassani's short story, "Una notte del '43".
La lunga notte del '43 di Florestano Vancini, 1960
Above the pharmacy, we still seem to see Pino Barilari, a poliomyelitic pharmacist (played by a masterful Enrico Maria Salerno), a silent witness of that night.
We are in front of the Cathedral vowards the Estense Castle, and we see two young people walking by the hand who have found each other after years. They are Ines Sastre and Kim Rossi Stuart in the Oscar-winning film by Michelangelo Antonioni.
In the nearby Jewish ghetto, in Via Mazzini, where Bassani's work still takes us back to the cinema, we hear the sweet sound of sacred rites coming from the Synagogue, a scene from Vittorio de Sica's 1972 Oscar-winning film 'Il giardino dei Finzi - Contini'.
It is still night, and the cinema film takes us to Piazza Ariostea, where the character playing Lisa Gastoni in Vancini's film 'Bitter Love' lives.
A few steps and we arrive at the Jewish Cemetery, in Via delle Vigne, from where the famous scene of the funeral ceremony in the film "Gli occhiali d'oro" (The golden glasses) starts. A few steps away, at the Certosa, Ferrara's great monumental cemetery, we see Gabriele Ferzetti and Belinda Lee, far from prying eyes, getting closer and closer, beginning a clandestine love affair, in the film "La lunga notte del '43" (The long night of '43), also by Vancini.
Walking, silently, we arrive in Corso Ercole d'Este, one of the most beautiful streets in the world, where the cinema could not help but enter, with affection and respect.
Here we imagine seeing so many film stars, so many characters, so many stories intertwining.
We glimpse the protagonists of 'Il Giardino dei Finzi - Contini' skirting the low wall of Parco Massari on their way to play tennis; now we see young students cycling past in the film 'Gli occhiali d'oro' (The golden spectacles); a lonely Kim Rossi Stuart, surrounded by a vaguely misty atmosphere, strolls along this beautiful street in the film 'Al di là delle nuvole' (Beyond the clouds).
There are many, many stories that the cinema has captured forever in this city.
A magical and dreamlike city, Renaissance and metaphysical, but also celluloid.
Stories that never left. Which remain here, between the castle and the cathedral, between Piazza Ariostea and the Certosa.
All the characters, actors, actresses, directors are still there.
Their loves, their failures, their successes, their sighs.
Just walk around, silently.
Stefano Muroni was born in Ferrara in 1989.
He is an actor, screenwriter, writer, film producer and creativity entrepreneur, and is one of the 15 Italian "Cinema Experts" chosen to collaborate with the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities - General Directorate for Cinema 2019-2021.
He created and founded the Scuola d'Arte Cinematografica Florestano Vancini (Florestano Vancini School of Cinematographic Art), the first school in Emilia Romagna specialising in filmmaking.