Showing posts with label Don Matteo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Don Matteo. Show all posts

3 July 2020

Flavio Insinna - actor and presenter

Star of TV dramas turned game show host

Flavio Insinna presents the daily quiz show L'eridità
Flavio Insinna presents the daily
quiz show L'eridità
The actor and presenter Flavio Insinna, who is the host of Italy’s popular television game show L’eridità and was formerly the face of Affari tuoi - the Italian version of Deal or No Deal - was born on this day in 1965 in Rome.

In a broad-ranging career, Insinna has run up an impressive list of credits in cinema, theatre and television as well as publishing an autobiography and a novel. He is also known for his philanthropy after donating his 49-foot boat Roxana to humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières to help rescue Syrian refugees.

In a substantial catalogue of television drama and comedy appearances, notable was Insinna’s portrayal of the Carabinieri captain Flavio Anceschi in the popular Rai Uno series Don Matteo, with Terence Hill and Nino Frassica.

Ironically, Insinna’s ambition after obtaining his Liceo Classico diploma from Rome’s Augusto high school in 1984, had been to become a Carabinieri officer but after failing to gain admission to the elite police force’s training college he opted for acting. He enrolled at the drama school run by the Polish-Italian dramatist Alessandro Fersen and later joined the drama laboratory run by the Rome-born singer and actor Gigi Proietti, who had been one of his heroes growing up.

He made his acting debut on stage in 1986 and honed his acting skills in theatre for more than a decade before landing his first film role as Orfeo in the comedy-drama Figli di Annibale (Hannibal’s Children) in 1998.

Insinna (left) with Terence Hill in a scene from the hit drama series Don Matteo
Insinna (left) with Terence Hill in a scene
from the hit TV drama series Don Matteo
By then Insinna had also made his first steps in TV. In 1999, his role in a TV drama about the life of Padre Pio, the priest with a reputation for miracle-working who was later made a Saint, gave his talent wider attention and it was only a year later that he landed the part of Capitano Anceschi in Don Matteo, the long-running drama that starred Terence Hill in the title role as a sleuthing parish priest in the Umbrian town of Gubbio.

He gained more plaudits for his portrayal of the priest Don Bosco, who was famous for his work with the poor and disadvantaged  in Turin in the late 19th century.

The opportunity to front Affari tuoi came in 2006, after the producers had seen Insinna as the ideal person to rescue the show’s then-flagging ratings in competition with the rival Striscia la Notizia on Canale 5.  In the same year, Insinna was awarded an important prize for his role in the TV drama La Buona Battaglia, in which he played Don Pietro Pappagallo, an anti-Fascist priest who was one of the 335 victims massacred by Nazi soldiers just outside Rome in caves known as the Fosse Ardeatine in March 1944.

Still drawn towards acting rather than presenting, he quit Affari tuoi after just two seasons and returned to the portrayal of a policeman in Ho sposato uno sbirro (I married a cop).

Insinna became popular for his
dramatic presentation style on Affari tuoi
By 2013, he was back at the helm of Affari tuoi, this time for a four-year stay. He again proved a popular presenter, his high profile bringing him invitations to guest on other shows, including the prime time Ballando con le stelle - Italy’s version of Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars.  Three times he has hosted Italy’s coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest.

In 2018, Insinna became the presenter of L'eredità (The Legacy), Italy’s longest-running game show, which broadcasts every night on Rai Uno, succeeding the late Fabrizio Frizzi.

Although born in Rome, Insinna is proud of his Sicilian roots, his father having moved to the mainland from Vallelunga Pratameno, a rugged town in central Sicily in the province of Caltanissetta, about 98km (61 miles) southeast of Palermo and 74km (46 miles) northeast of Agrigento.

In 2015, in an act of compassion inspired by the plight of Syrian refugees trying to reach Italy via perilous Mediterranean sea crossings, Insinna donated his own yacht, the Roxana, to Médecins Sans Frontières to assist their work in the war-torn country. When the vessel could no longer he given a practical use, he sold it and gave the proceeds to a refugee charity. 

The Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano is one of southern Rome's major landmarks
The Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano is
one of southern Rome's major landmarks
Travel tip:

Insinna’s high school, the Liceo Ginnasio Augusto, is in the Appio/San Giovanni neighbourhood of Rome, southeast of the city centre. It is well known primarily for the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, the oldest and most important of Rome’s four major basilicas and officially Rome’s cathedral.  The church’s history can be traced to the reign of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great, who converted the Lateran Palace to a church in 324AD after he had converted to Christianity.  The famous Baroque eastern facade, topped with enormous statues of saints, was added in 1736, completed by Alessandro Galilei. 

Caltanissetta's beautiful Piazza Garibaldi is the Sicilian city's main square
Caltanissetta's beautiful Piazza Garibaldi is
the Sicilian city's main square
Travel tip:

Sicily’s largest completely inland city, with a population of just over 61,000, Caltanissetta was founded by the Greeks and became prosperous in the first half of the 20th century as the capital of the island’s sulphur-mining industry. Today it is an important agricultural centre and rarely gets a mention in tourist guides but it does have a beautiful central square, the Piazza Garibaldi, dominated by the city’s duomo, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria la Nova, which was completed in 1622. The cathedral’s Baroque facade, with its twin bell towers, was damaged by Allied bombing in 1943 but faithfully restored in 1946. 

Also on this day:

29 March 2016

Terence Hill – actor

Film star progressed from playing cowboys to become a popular parish priest

Terence Hill was born as Mario Girotti on this day in 1939 in Venice.

He became an actor as a child and went on to have many starring roles in films, particularly spaghetti westerns.

Don Matteo has been a long-running show on Italian television with Terence Hill in the starring role
Terence Hill (left), born Mario Girotti, in his most famous
role as the parish priest Don Matteo

It was when he began acting in that genre that he changed his name to Terence Hill at the suggestion of one of his producers, who told him that Italian-made westerns were better received in English-speaking countries if the names in the credits sounded American. 

He is said to have settled on Hill after the first name of his German-born mother, Hildegard, and Terence after the name of a Roman poet and playwright he admired.

Terence Hill later became a household name in Italy as the actor who played the lead character in the long-running television series, Don Matteo.

Hill lived in Germany as a child but then his family moved to Rome, the capital of Italy’s film industry. When he was 12 years old, Hill was spotted by director Dino Risi and given a part in Vacanze col gangster, an adventure movie in which five youngsters help a dangerous gangster escape from prison.

Other film parts quickly followed and at the height of his popularity, Hill was said to be among the highest-paid actors in Italy.

Hill had a leading role in Visconti's The Leopard
Hill had a leading role in Il Gattopardo
(The Leopard) under his real name
His most famous films are They Call Me Trinity and My Name is Nobody, in which he appeared with Henry Fonda. Another of his films, Django, Prepare a coffin was featured at the 64th Venice film festival in 2007.

Hill also had a major role in Luchino Visconti’s film, The Leopard along with Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale and Alain Delon, in which he was listed in the cast under his real name.

Since 2000, on Italian television, Hill has portrayed Don Matteo, an inspirational parish priest who assists the Carabinieri to solve crimes that affect his community in Gubbio.

Hill received an international ‘Outstanding Actor of the Year’ award for this role at the 42nd Monte Carlo television festival.
The next episode of Series 10 of Don Matteo will be shown on Thursday, 31 March at 21.20 Italian time on Rai Uno.

The Piazza della Signoria is at the heart of Gubbio
The Piazza della Signoria in Gubbio
(Photo: Lisa1963 (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Travel tip:

Gubbio in Umbria, where Don Matteo is filmed, is a small medieval town perched on the lower slopes of Mount Ingino in the Apennines. Via della Repubblica, the main street, leads to Piazza della Signoria where there is a magnificent 14th century palace, Palazzo dei Consoli, which houses the Tavole Eugubine, bronze tablets written in an ancient Umbrian language. From the square there are wonderful views over the town and surrounding countryside.

Travel tip:

Cinecittà in Rome, the hub of the Italian film industry, is a large studio complex to the south of the city, built during the fascist era under the personal direction of Benito Mussolini and his son, Vittorio. The studios were bombed by the Allies in the Second World War but were rebuilt and used again in the 1950s for large productions, such as Ben Hur. These days a range of productions, from television drama to music videos, are filmed there and it has its own dedicated Metro stop.