After the flop of two movies (Luci del varietà, 1951 and Lo sceicco bianco, 1952), Federico Fellini came to Viterbo to film some sequences of I vitelloni (1953).
Written together with the screenwriters Ennio Flaiano e Tullio Pinelli, I vitelloni eternalizes the portrait of the static life in a small town that Fellini borrowed from the memories of his own youth. The film director recreated his native Rimini in Viterbo, filming sequences in Via dell’Orologio Vecchio, Piazza delle Erbe, Corso Italia, Via Saffi, Piazza della Rocca and even at Porta Fiorentina train station.
The choice of the locations (which include also Florence and Ostia) was dictated by the availability of Alberto Sordi. At the time of filming, the actor was on tour in the major Italian theatres with Gran Baraonda – a popular show by Garinei & Giovannini – therefore Fellini, in order to have him in the cast, had to adapt the place and time of filming to the actor’s needs.
The shooting sessions in Viterbo involved many locals. According to an article published at the time in Il Messaggero (a popular Italian newspaper) “the filming of I Vitelloni often takes place at night and continues until dawn and it is followed by many curious onlookers, besides the local people involved as extras who therefore have a professional reason not to sleep at night”.
Acclaimed at the 14th edition of the Venice Film Festival, I vitelloni is considered as one of the masterpieces of the Italian cinema and it is also the movie that introduced in the Italian vocabulary the neologism vitellone (indicating a young person with no ambitions, interested only in having fun).
After filming many of his movies in the Tuscia area (Luci del varietà, 1951, in Capranica; La strada, 1954, in Bagnoregio; Il bidone, 1955, in Castel Sant’Elia and La dolce vita, 1960, in Bassano Romano), Fellini came back again to Viterbo to shoot a sequence of 8 ½ (1963).