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Italian cinema is filled with classic lines, memorable scenes and unforgettable characters.

This week has been a truly cinema-filled week. It started with us having the unique opportunity of touring Cinecittà studios on a class trip for our History of the Italian Cinema class. Cinecittà is the biggest production center in mainland Europe and its name means "Cinema City."

Our class had the rare opportunity of touring the studios, and it was so much fun. I'm fortunate enough to have been on studio lots before, but being on an Italian one was a whole different side of cool. Nicknamed "Hollywood on the Tiber," Cinecittà was founded by Mussolini in 1937 and is the filming location for many famous movies, including "Roman Holiday," "La Dolce Vita" and "Ben Hur."

The first stop we made was one of the streets that Martin Scorsese used for the filming of "Gangs of New York." It was all just façades, with the building front is supported by exposed beams in the back. It was so interesting to see all of these ornate and seemingly sturdy structures that are all just light building materials with rods and beams in the back. You can't go inside of them; it's only for outside show.

In another area, there were buildings that had walls that were not straight. Rather, they curved out in spots as they went up. This, we learned, is a technique that, combined with proper filming angles, makes the buildings look taller. It will never cease to amaze me how wonderful the cinema industry is at creating illusions and morphing reality to create a world perfect for the atmosphere of a film.

Hands down, one of my favorite parts of the tour was the second place we visited. Right after we saw the "Gangs of New York" street, we walked no more than two minutes and we reached "ancient Rome." There were ancient Roman temples, the Triumphal Arch and streets paved in stone just like the stone I walk on here every day. It was the true definition of a motion picture studio, being able to transcend centuries with just a matter of steps.

We also saw Frederico Fellini's old office and Soundstage 5, the largest soundstage in Europe. This soundstage was the main filming location for "La Dolce Vita," among many other films. It was a truly wonderful experience.

Then, this past Friday evening, my friends and I went to the Rome Film Festival. Again because we're in the cinema class at school, we had our tickets paid for and got to experience this amazing Italian film festival. This year, the festival ran from Oct. 27 to Nov. 4, and every day was jam-packed with events. Celebrities also attended the festivities; for example, some of the actors of "Twilight" were at the festival one day for a "Twilight: Break-ing Dawn" event.

The film we saw was an American film, "Too Big to Fail." It is an HBO film and was released for TV on May 23. I thought the film was absolutely fantastic and very well done, just another plus to an already fantastic night of being at the festival in general.

The atmosphere there was phenomenal. We got to walk on the red carpet, hear live Italian music being streamed live on RAI radio, a large broadcasting company in Italy, and even got free espresso. Life could not have been much better.

I love my classes here in Italy because they all have been so involved in culture and real-world situations. We take so many class trips, and we get to have amazing experiences like these two just for being in a class for the semester. These are definitely not things you get to experience everyday and I feel so fortunate to be taking part in it all.

Ciao tutti!




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