March 28, 2017
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Italy opens theme park in Cinecittà in tribute to the film industry

ROME — A new amusement park outside Rome celebrates the world of cinema, taking visitors back to the golden age of Italian film production when the Rome-based Cinecittà Studios — still in operation — were known as “Hollywood on the Tiber.”

“Here, the idea is that people will also enter not only sets, but the confusion of a place where we are shooting movie. Everything will be illusion,” said Emmanuel Gout, President of Cinecittà Parks. “The visitor will become a protagonist of the day, becoming a star, becoming involved in some fake movie.”

At a submarine set, visitors get into character by donning marine helmets and racing through an action-packed movie scene. These marines bark orders and frantically spin valves, trying to avert an impending disaster.

Fans of Sergio Leone spaghetti Westerns will delight in the Western set, which features an Ennio Morricone soundtrack for make-believe cowboy showdowns. A 1920s New York set is inspired by Dante Ferretti’s set work for the Martin Scorsese film, Gangs of New York. Ferretti actually designed all the sets for the park. But beyond the lights, camera and action, no amusement park is complete without some wild rides. Cinecittà World mixes roller coasters with the pleasure of cinematic recreation: a futuristic corkscrew roller coaster connected to a spaceship and a water coaster in an ancient Rome set.

Italy is not exactly known for its amusement parks — most tourists come to Rome to view real ancient ruins, like the Colosseum. But Cinecittà World’s creators hope this park will coax tourists to tack an extra day onto their itineraries.

“The average tourist spends five days in Paris but two and a half days in Rome,” said Luigi Abete, president of the Italian Entertainment Group. “After they opened the Disney theme park outside Paris, the average stay went up.”

And Cinecittà World does stand out among theme parks in several ways. For one thing, the food is better. No greasy funnel cakes or corn dogs to be found: visitors instead can sit down to a civilized meal at an Italian wood-fired pizzeria at the Gatsby-esque Charleston Club; a healthful buffet (with a glass of wine, for grown-ups) at the Old American Bistro, or a rollicking barbecue at the saloon.

Italians seem to agree. “It takes us back in time,” said Mirella Monti, a visitor at a preview before the park’s official opening last week. “Cinema always has this effect: in a few seconds, it catapults you into a completely different environment than reality — it could be the future or the past.”


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