At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

28 September 2017

Marcello Mastroianni – actor

Film star who immortalised the Trevi Fountain

Marcello Mastroianni was an icon of Italian cinema for more than 45 years
Marcello Mastroianni was an star of
Italian cinema for more than 45 years
Marcello Vincenzo Domenico Mastroianni, who grew up to star in some of the most iconic Italian films of the 20th century, was born on this day in 1924 in Fontana Liri, in the province of Frosinone in Lazio.

He was the son of Ida Irolle and Ottone Mastroianni, who ran a carpentry shop. His uncle, Umberto Mastroianni, was a sculptor.

At the age of 14, Marcello Mastroianni made his screen debut as an extra in a 1939 film called Marionette.

His career was interrupted by the Second World War, during which he was interned in a German prison camp until he managed to escape and go into hiding in Venice.

He made several minor film appearances after the war until he landed his first big role in Atto d’accusa, directed by Giacomo Gentilomo, in 1951.

Ten years later, Mastroianni had become an international celebrity, having starred in Federico Fellini’s La dolce vita opposite Anita Ekberg. He played a disillusioned tabloid journalist who spends his days and nights exploring Rome’s high society. The film is most famous for the scene in which Ekberg's character, Sylvia, wades into the Trevi Fountain.

Mastroianni followed this with a starring role in Fellini’s   - Otto e mezzo - in which he played a film director who suffers from creative block while making a movie.

Mastroianni's famous Trevi Fountain scene with Anita Ekberg in Federico Fellini's La dolce vita
Mastroianni's famous Trevi Fountain scene with Anita
Ekberg in Federico Fellini's La dolce vita
He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor three times, for Pietro Germi's Divorce, Italian-style, Ettore Scola's A Special Day and Dark Eyes, directed by Nikita Mikhalkov. He is one of only three actors to have twice been awarded the Best Actor award at the Cannes film festival.

A Special Day was one of 11 films in which he starred opposite Sophia Loren, his on-screen partnership with whom was a feature of Italian cinema in the 1960s and ‘70s.

Mastroianni married Flora Carabella in 1950 and they had a daughter, Barbara. After they separated, he had a relationship with the actress Faye Dunaway. He later lived with French actress Catherine Deneuve and they had a daughter, Chiara Mastroianni.

Mastroianni in Divorce, Italian-style
Mastroianni in Divorce, Italian-style
He was rumoured to have had affairs with other actresses until, in 1976, he became involved with Anna Maria Tato, an author and film maker.

Mastroianni died from pancreatic cancer in 1996 at the age of 72. Both of his daughters, as well as Deneuve and Tato, were at his bedside.

The Trevi Fountain was turned off and draped in black as a tribute to him.

Travel tip:

Fontana Liri, where Marcello Mastroianni was born, is a small village in the Apennines, about 90km (56 miles) southeast of Rome and about 15km (9 miles) east of Frosinone. It falls within the remote hilly part of Lazio known as the Ciociaria, which is south of Rome and north of Naples and is named after the ciocie, sandals, traditionally worn by local people.

The Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome
The Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome
Travel tip:

The Trevi Fountain in Rome, where Marcello Mastroianni paddled with Anita Ekberg in La dolce vita, was symbolically turned off and draped in black as a tribute to the actor after he died. The fountain was officially opened by Pope Clement XIII in 1762. Standing at more than 26m (85 feet) high and 49m (161 feet) wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome and probably the most famous fountain in the world. It was designed by a Roman architect, Nicola Salvi, but he died when it was only half finished. Made from Travertine stone quarried in Tivoli near Rome, the fountain was completed by Giuseppe Pannini, with Oceanus (god of all water), designed by Pietro Bracci, set in the central niche. Coins are traditionally thrown into the fountain by visitors, using the right hand over the left shoulder. It is estimated about 3000 euros are thrown into the fountain each day, money which is used to subsidise a supermarket for the poor in Rome.

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