My Trip to Rome & Profondo Rosso

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

So as some of you may already know, my blogging has fallen by the wayside over the past year because I've been planning a wedding which is pretty much the most stressful and time consuming thing you can do. Every time I wanted to write an entry on American giallo or erotic thrillers, I was plunged into another crisis. Sadly as well this year, my beloved Grandpa passed away which has been very difficult for me and the wedding only served to remind me of that fact so I've really been stepping away from film stuff for a good portion of the year. However, I'm happy to say that I should be getting back into it now. I've just finished an essay for a certain distributor which I'm really excited about. Unfortunately I can't divulge what it is but I promise you it's a good one! I intend to make a visual post to accompany the essay which I'll post alongside the release of the film like I did with The Killer Dames release. Stay tuned for that!

I'm going to do a separate post about the wedding as it was heavily influenced by my love of giallo and Italian horror but I have to wait for the photos so till then, you'll have to settle for this post which is about my experiences on my honeymoon in Rome. I'm going to talk a little about some of the Italian film locations I visited as well as some of the ones I intended to. Hopefully this will be an informative post that will answer some questions about the film locations used for Tenebrae and Inferno. I'm also going to talk about my visit to Profondo Rosso which will be detailed underneath my segment on film locations.

So I originally wanted to see a few of the locations that were used in the filming of Tenebrae but many of these are on the outskirts of the city out near the airport and we didn't have the time to venture out to that side of the city. Perhaps on my next trip to Rome I'll attempt to navigate the railways and head out to get photos of the various locations used in Tenebrae but as I'm sure you'll all agree, dragging my husband out to a residential area on our honeymoon might not have gone down to well. For those of you who are interested in the locations I was planning to see, I'll list them here in case you want to find them yourselves. I wanted to see the brutalist house that Tilde and Marion live in as it's an amazing piece of architecture and such a memorable filming location. The house is called Villa Ronconi and is located at Via Alessandro Magno 311 in the Casal Palocco district. Villa Ronconi was designed by Italian architect Saverio Busiri Vici and was built between 1970 and 1973. The Casal Palocco district is also home to the modernist piazza that Bulmer is stabbed in whist waiting for his lover, Jane - this is Piazzale Filippo il Macedone. The piazza was used in Tenebrae as Argento wanted Bulmer's death scene to take place in a bustling location filled with happiness and sunshine to make Bulmer's death seem all the more shocking. Another location in Tenebrae that may be of interest is the apartment building that Peter Neal stays in which is actually the Hotel NH Roma Villa Carpegna in Rome which is located in the western suburbs of the city. Finally another house of architectural interest is the residence of critic Christiano Berti. Argento envisioned the scenes set in Berti's villa taking place in a strange house with jarring architecture and settled on a modernist house designed by architect Sandro Petti. The house is in the small town of Formello in the province of Rome and is located at Viale Peru. The house was also used in the 1983 film Soap and Water by Carlo Verdone as well as the 1990 comedy film, Le comiche by Neri Parenti.

Villa Ronconi, Hotel Villa Carpegna, Piazzale Filippo il Macedone

Alongside Tenebrae, my favourite Argento film is Inferno so I was desperate to see some of the filming locations from the movie. Inferno is set in two cities - Rome and New York but the majority of the film was filmed in Rome. The scenes filmed in New York were the Central Park scene with Kazanian and a few exterior shots in the closing shots of the film which were filmed on Riverside Drive. The apartment building in the film is supposed to be located on Riverside Drive but in reality these scenes were filmed at I.N.C.I.R de Paolis Studio on Via Tiburtina - I visited this street to see the studios but obviously there's nothing really to see in terms of shots from the film. The building that Rose Elliot lives in was recreated on a sound stage and Mario Bava came up with some of the wonderful effects that gave the appearance of a New York city skyline behind the building. To be perfectly honest, I'm not 100% certain on the origins of the building - according to a book I own in Italian, the facade of the building existed or part existed somewhere in New York and was based on that but I can't find a location listed anywhere.

However, I was able to see a few of the locations used in Inferno - both of which are in Rome. In the first half of the film when Sara leaves her music lecture with Mark's note from Rose she takes a taxi to the biblioteca filosofica fondazione abertny pubblico accesso in search of Varelli's Three Mothers book. The library interiors were shot at Biblioteca Angelica which is located at Piazza Sant'Agostino. This location can also be seen in Vittorio De Sica's The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970). The spectacular exterior of the library was filmed at Quartiere Coppedè in Rome which is located at Piazza Mincio. Quartiere Coppedè was designed by architect Gino Coppedè in 1915 with the construction of the various buildings taking place during the 1910s and 1920s. Coppedè died in 1927 and the project was taken over and completed by architect, Paolo Emilio André. What is perhaps so striking about Quartiere Coppedè is the eclectic mix of architectural styles on display from Art Noveau to baroque to medieval. The Giovanni Pastrone film Cabiria (1914) also served as inspiration for some of the architecture on display. The clashing architectural styles give Quartiere Coppedè an amazing fantasy like feel that makes it the perfect location for Argento's baroque supernatural horror. Quartiere Coppedè also featured in Mario Bava's The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963) and Francesco Barelli's The Perfume of the Lady in Black (1974). Outside of Italian cinema, horror fans may be familiar with the piazza as it featured in the Rome set scenes of British horror, The Omen (1976).

After Sara encounters the henchmen of Mater Lachrymarum, she flees the library through the breathtaking archway of Piazza Mincio which leads onto Via Tagliamento - this shot gives a fantastic view of the ornate arch itself as well as the beautiful iron chandelier that hangs from it. The scene then cuts to Sara rushing towards her apartment building, an impressively ornate peach coloured structure with an imposing front entrance. This building is located on Via Po which is a short walk from Rome zoo. The building looks remarkably similar to how it does in Inferno with the only real difference being the modern cars parked outside and the various recycling bins that litter the pavement. What I find striking about this scene is the similarity to Suspiria when Pat flees to her friend's apartment. Both buildings, although different in style, are both imposing ornate structures that loom over their respective characters. Although both of these buildings differ from the houses of the three mothers, they also serve as houses of death and it's interesting to see this parallel being made between both films.

A couple of other filming locations I visited that are worth a mention are the Spanish Steps and Trinità dei Monti which can be seen in Bava's The Girl Who Knew Too Much alongside other well known tourist locations such as the Colosseum. I also visited Castel Sant'Angelo and the Trevi Fountain which can be seen in Al Festa's Fatal Frames alongside the aforementioned Colosseum. I also ventured into many of Rome's metro stations with their distinctive use of the colour orange - these stations are mostly unchanged from their appearances in films such as Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971) and Dial:Help (1988). Of course, so many of the films I like and discuss on my blog and Twitter are set in Rome so I'm only scratching the surface of the film locations you can visit in the Eternal City. What this blog post demonstrates is how easy it is to see some of the famous locations in Italian genre cinema even if you've got limited time in the city. Hopefully on my next visit to Rome, I'll track down some of the more obscure places on my list!

I'm now going to talk about my experiences in Profondo Rosso but if anyone is interested in finding out more information on filming locations in Argento's films, give me a shout and I'll try and answer them. I'm really trying now to build up my knowledge of Italian so I'm attempting to decipher some of the Italian texts on Argento and his various filming locations.

Profondo Rosso

Of course a trip to Rome wouldn't be complete for an Italian horror fan without a visit to Profondo Rosso. For those of you who don't know, Profondo Rosso is a independent shop that specialises in all things horror - from books about Italian cinema to fancy dress costumes, the shop has it all. Profondo Rosso was opened in 1989 by directors Dario Argento and Luigi Cozzi and the shop is currently run by Luigi Cozzi and his wife alongside a staff of devoted horror fans. The best part about the shop is that it's also home to a museum located in the basement that's dedicated to the works of Argento and Cozzi. The shop is located at Via dei Gracchi which is a short walk from the Vatican.

When I arrived at the shop I was greeted by the wonderful staff who were absolutely lovely. Although the men I spoke to weren't fluent in English, they were really enthusiastic and happy to help and really made an effort to speak to me. The minute I said I was a fan of Dario Argento they flipped a switch and the shop was filled with ghoulish noises that emitted from the museum/dungeon in the basement. Entry to the museum was 5 euros per person and after we paid we were led to a winding wrought iron staircase (how giallo) that had a sign above it that read "Museo di Dario Argento". We descended the stairs and found ourselves in a darkly lit basement area filled with all sorts of props and displays. As we were the only ones in the basement we could take as long as we wanted and could easily take photos of everything and savour the experience. At the beginning of the corridor through the basement, there was a  director's chair with Dario Argento's name on it which was a great touch - I made sure to get my photo sitting in it. All of the displays were really interesting with a few mock ups of various famous Argento scenes like the reveal of the child from Phenomena, the theatre from Opera and the Demons from Demons. It's a small museum but for fans of Italian cinema there's plenty to take in and it's well worth the 5 euros. I still can't quite believe that is exists!





On returning up the stairs my patient husband waited as I investigated the shop. There's a lot of generic horror items like masks and costumes on display but the corner of the shop has lots of Italian horror based goodness. There's loads of books and DVDs, mostly in Italian but there's also an English section which has several titles. The books in English are all published by the shop itself with many written by Cozzi - the books aren't readily available online so worth getting whilst you're there. I picked up a book on Lucio Fulci, one on Luigi Cozzi's films and one on gialli. Alongside the books I purchased I bought; a Killer Must Kill Again fridge magnet, a Blood & Black Lace tee and a Profondo Rosso Argento mug. There's posters for sale as well as scripts but I decided to spend most of my money on books. Luigi wasn't in the shop but his wife was and she kindly gift wrapped my purchases with Profondo Rosso paper which was a nice touch. She was very friendly and informed me that Luigi would be in later but I was too chicken shit to come back later on until...

My lovely Twitter friends (shout out to the amazing Italian film community on Twitter which put up with my constant tweeting) convinced me to go back to buy more of the books that I had been deliberating getting. On returning I noticed that the man himself, Luigi Cozzi was there! Ok so I know horror conventions are big with horror fans and meeting famous people is the best thing ever to a lot of people but for me it is singly the most cringeworthy thing. So meeting Luigi filled me with dread because the awkwardness of going up to someone and saying "I love your work" is too much for me to handle. By this point I had turned bright red and was sweating profusely. Anyways I bit the bullet and went over to introduce myself. Luigi was very nice and asked me where I was from to which I babbled Scozia because hey let's attempt some Italian even if I babbled incoherently in a Scottish accent five sentences beforehand. Anyways, he talked to me about how he was going to the Abattoir festival in Wales to show his new film and that it has been a big success on the circuit. I wanted to ask him about The Black Cat but I also wanted to die from embarrassment, luckily the shop phone rang for Luigi so I scuttled away. I picked up the books on Profondo Rosso, Four Flies, Italian horror films and Mario Bava because hey I didn't spend enough already and went to the till to pay. Luigi offered to sign my Bava book and left me a lovely message (no wonder seeing as I probably paid his mortgage for the month). I'm glad I met the man but the whole experience confirmed why I can never go to a meet and greet event for horror fans. Good news is that I've thumbed through all the books and they're brilliant so if you get the chance to go to Rome, head to the shop and stock up. The books are available on the online site but it works out a lot more expensive.


Anyway that's the end of my post which became surprisingly lengthy but I can't help going into detail about filming locations and my general adventures! I'd like to dedicate this post to my new husband Murray who put up with all of the above without moaning. Till my next post... ciao!


  1. I have been a wedding vender (Photographer) in the area for twenty five years and I have never been treated so well by a wedding venue like I was at this place. I am usually taken care of as a "last on the list" at venues, which I understand where the bride, groom and guest come first but the entire staff from the minute I walked in the wedding venues door treated me so well.

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