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La Strada

February 18, 2011 Leave a comment

A film by Fellini, it’s the story of a circus strongman, played by Anthony Quinn, and a clown, played by Fellini’s wife. Life on the road with a travelling circus is the perfect setting for this tale of disjointed lives and unlikely friendships. This film might well have spawned the whole genre of the ‘road movie’.

Watching it was a hugely engaging and emotional journey.

I was also impressed with how well the mighty Anthony Quinn spoke Italian.

La Strada

Four years ago I visited Italy with my family. We flew out very early in the morning, after a long drive to the airport. When we landed in Pisa we hired a car and set off on the drive to our accomodation. Two hours later, lost on a narrow road that wound up the side of a mountain, nerves and tempers were becoming frayed. It was clear that the road we were on was not going to get us where we wanted to go. The matter of whether we should turn back or continue was the source of some great disagreement, so we pulled over where the road swelled out for a passing place.

An old man came wandering down the road towards us. I spoke no Italian whatsoever but went across to him with our guidebook in hand, hoping that he spoke some English. It quickly became clear that he spoke none. He motioned me to the edge of the road where it ended and the slope of the mountain spilled down from us into a valley.

He babbled away in Italian and I followed his finger as he pointed across at the other side of the gorgeous green valley with little clusters of terracotta roofs nestling among the cypresses. He moved his arm from left to right, describing the way we were to go, maintaining his constant babble of rough-spoken Italian. I found his voice soothing and reassuring, although I didn’t understand a word and was now virtually transfixed on the panorama before me.

From his stream of words, I discerned ‘la strada’ and Fellini’s film came instantly to mind.

I smiled at the old man and said ‘Gratzee’. He nodded and smiled back before going on his way. I was no clearer about how we were going to go ahead to our destination, but I was reminded that the journey we took, and everything that happened along the way, was to be savoured and remembered.

I took a further couple of minutes to myself, gazing out on the Tuscan hills, before taking a quick snap and returning to the car to re-engage with la strada.

Tuscany

Categories: film, me, photos