Hollywood in Italy

Patrizia Poli
2 min readMar 28, 2022

The coastal area between Pisa and Livorno had already been discovered by Hollywood in the 1920s, so much so that in the 20th some scenes of “Ben Hur” were shot at Molo Novo.

In 1933 the Autonomous institution Tirrenia built the Tirrenia Film factories based on Antonio Valente’s design. The following year Giovacchino Forzano takes over the structure, which stands in a reptile and mosquito swamp, where there is only a fort of the Guardia di Finanza called Mezzaspiaggia. He rearranged it with 500 thousand lire, the result of the sharing of the Agnelli family and Persichetti, later founder of a dubbing house, transformed it into the Pisorno factories, so-called because they are equidistant between Pisa and Livorno.

Forzano is an author of theater, librettist of “Gianni Schicchi”, theatrical and cinematographic director and he stages many of his own works but he is above all a friend and collaborator of Mussolini, who already strongly wanted Tirrenia as a pearl of fascist architecture and seaside delights. The factories must also serve to produce propaganda and attract consensus.

It is no coincidence that one of the first films shot was, significantly, “Black shirt”.

The sea, the long beach of fine sand, the rivers, the pine forests and the hills make the area attractive to Americans as the ideal location for many films, and the factories occupy 500,000 square meters. In its period of splendor, Pisorno becomes the first capital of cinema, even before Cinecittà, actors of the caliber of Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Amedeo Nazzari, Domenico Modugno, Vittorio Gassman recite in it. Klaus Kinski, Philippe Noiret, the complete de Filippo family, Fosco Giachetti, Massimo Girotti, Totò, Gino Cervi and, of course, Doris Duranti, directed by renowned directors such as de Sica, Blasetti, Ferreri. Tirrenia also shines with reflected light, thanks to the stars who sunbathe in swimsuit along the coast.

The Taviani and Monicelli brothers take their first steps in the Tirrenia studios. “Sciuscià” (46) directed by de Sica, is played by many non-leading actors taken on the Labronic streets. A school of technicians, sound engineers, make-up artists was formed here, then absorbed by Cinecittà.

During the Second World War, the studios were requisitioned by the Americans who turned them into warehouses, up to 48. In 61 they were bought by Carlo Ponti but the costs were high and the venture was already concluded in 69; Ponti leaves, Rai refuses the purchase, the studios close their doors and die slowly.

Patrizia Poli

Patrizia Poli was born in Livorno in 1961. Writer of fiction and blogger, she published seven novels.