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Wednesday October 4th 2023

Prima Della Rivoluzione (Before The Revolution) | 1964

Prima Della Rivoluzione (Before The Revolution) filming location: Piazza Garibaldi, Parma, Italy
Prima Della Rivoluzione (Before The Revolution) filming location: Fabrizio and Gina hang about in the town square: Piazza Garibaldi, Parma, Italy | Photograph: wikimedia / Geobia

The second feature film from Bernardo Bertolucci is a loose adaptation of Stendhal’s Charterhouse Of Parma, with Francesco Barilli as Fabrizio, a young bourgeois who carries on a passionate affair with his Milanese aunt, Gina (Adriana Asti),  while tussling with the complexities of Euro-Communism.

It was actually filmed in Parma, in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. Don’t go bothering the local tourist office – there is no Charterhouse; this was invented by Stendhal, and features only at the very end of the novel, when the hero retires to it, “in the woods by the Po, a couple of leagues from Sacca.”

In Bertolucci’s film, Fabrizio and Gina hang around the city’s main square, Piazza Garibaldi.

The splendid medieval church where Clelia (Cristina Pariset) is found at the beginning is the 12th century Romanesque-Gothic Baptistery of Parma’s Cathedral of St Maria Assunta, Piazza di Duomo.

In the aftermath of the Communist Summer Rally, Fabrizio mooches around the Park Ducal, the grounds of the Farnese palace across the Ponte Verdi from the town centre.

The opera house in which Fabrizio and Gina attend, separately, a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Macbeth, is the Teatro Regio di Parma on the via Garibaldi, which is indeed closely associated with Verdi, as well as conductor Arturo Toscanini, who was born in Parma.

The Teatro Regio hosts another cinematic staging of Verdi’s Macbeth in a very different film, Dario Argento’s 1987 shocker Opera.

If you’re visiting Parma, you’ll hardly need reminding that it’s famous for its food, particularly Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (Parmesan) and, of course, Prosciutto di Parma (Parma ham).