Cinema and theater in his soul


Leaving Pistoia’s Via Dalmazia. Director of the greatest actors of his time, he was a classmate and friend of Franco Zeffirelli.

Mauro Bolognini represents – together with Gianna Manzini, Marino Marini, and Giovanni Michelucci – the excellence of that small circle of native sons and daughters from the last century who made Pistoia’s name resound beyond our city walls.

He was born in Pistoia on 28 June 1922, and completed his studies in his hometown and in Florence.  Soon, however, he went to Rome where he met up with his friends Piero Tosi and Franco Zeffirelli, the latter his schoolmate at the Institute Fiorentino founded by Enrico Corradini.  The break from his hometown was final and without regrets.  Only after success had arrived, in the last chapter of his work and life, did he feel the need for an emotional and even aesthetic homecoming.  He was captivated by the beauty of the Piazza del Duomo: “In fact, it’s very unfair that De Chirico didn’t put it with his Italian squares.  Well, I walked slowly through this square with a certain shyness.  Today I understood why; it was because I was bound body and soul to these monuments.”

His directorial debut soon came with Ci troviamo in galleria, in 1953.  The story revolves around characters played by Nilla Pizzi and Carlo Dapporto.  However, there were also two actors with major parts who would later become very important: Alberto Sordi and Sophia Loren.  It was the golden age of Italian cinema and Bolognini quickly became one of the leading lights in its success.  He attended and received awards at Cannes and elsewhere.  Above all, there was his close collaboration with Pier Paolo Pasolini that reached its climax with La notte brava (Bad Girls Don’t Cry) and Il bell’Antonio.

He often worked on film adaptations of famous and less famous novels:  Senilità (Careless) and La Signora delle camelie (The Lady of the Camellias) as well as L’eredità Ferramonti (The Inheritance) and Vasco Pratolini’s Un bellissimo novembre (That Splendid November) and Metello.  The biggest Italian and foreign names in acting crossed his set, including Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Toto, Silvana Mangano, Belmondo, Catherine Deneuve, Anthony Quinn, and Liv Ullmann.  He did not limit himself just to the movies, but devoted much energy to opera, becoming one of the most popular and respected opera directors.  He also worked in television, with the series La famiglia Ricordi and the miniseries of La Certosa di Parma (The Charterhouse of Parma), as well as in the theater, in particular with Pirandello’s trilogy.  Over the course of his career, he helped to launch young actors, anoint rising stars, and salvage forgotten faces.  He worked with the best musicians, costume designers, set designers and authors.  Yet he rarely met with critical acclaim.  Audiences however followed him conscientiously, rewarding him especially with Metello, probably his most successful film.

In 2011, the center named for him remembered the director with a series of initiatives that celebrated the tenth anniversary of his death.  Recently, the Pistoia publisher Via del Vento has brought out a collection of his writings entitled Fare cinema.

Cultural Center Dedicated to Director to Showcase his work

The Mauro Bolognini Cultural Centre was founded in June 2001 with a view to preserving and showcasing the work of this director from Pistoia.  To this end, it oversees an archive that preserves a wealth of documentation, frequented mainly by university students and researchers, production houses, and scholars from all parts of the world.

The Centre organizes a biennial film festival (the 5th was held in 2012), that has carved out a corner in the sector.  On the tenth anniversary of his death an important documentary was made – directed by his nephew Andrea and organized by Mauro’s brother Manolo – that reconstructed Bolognini’s career as an opera director using footage and interviews with close associates.  

The partners are the City and Province of Pistoia, the Brigata del Leoncino, and the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Pistoia e Pescia.


Roberto Cadonici


Archivio Centro Mauro Bolognini


Tags from the story
More from Discover Pistoia

Casa studio Fernando Melani

Nome opera: Casa studio Fernando Melani Indirizzo: Corso Antonio Gramsci 159 –...
Read More