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Posted on May 15, 2009 | 8 comments

I spied this piece of art at the end of via del Pigneto this past weekend and was utterly amazed by the quality. The drawing depicts Totò, an extremely famous comedic actor from Naples during the post-WWII era. He’s a true icon of Italian cinema and anyone walking on the street who sees this piece would recognize it as him immediately. Italian comedies are a very important genre here and watching the classics gives great insight into Italian culture. The humor can be very different and I found this nice interview with renowned director Mario Monicelli in which he speaks about Italian comedy genre. Of course another great star of Italian comedies is the late Alberto Sordi. You’ll see still capture of his famous scene in “Un Americano a Roma” in an obscene amount of restaurants here in Rome. But back to Toto’. While not that well-known outside of Italy, he really is a superstar here. Check out one funny scene from one of his most well-known films “Miseria e Nobiltà” (1954), which also stars Sophia Loren.

A quick note about the fantastic artwork above. I wasn’t sure who had done it as first because I didn’t look for the signature when I took the photo. However, after Sebastian over at Unurth asked to publish the photo, I went back and saw that it’s not the work of an Italian artist, but an artist from France named Zilda. I reached out to him and he let me know this is one piece from a project he did about characters from Italian films by Pasolini, Fellini, etc. He should be posting photos to his Flickr stream next week, but I highly suggest looking at these shots of him working. Truly a talent. This was the first one I saw, but I’ve been told the other pieces are at Porta Maggiore, Trastevere, Campo de Fiori, and Monti. How have I missed them??


  1. Makes me wish I could understand Italian! Actions, facial expressions, music – yes! But the language, sadly no! I love old movies and will look to see if this one is available with English subtitles.

  2. Hi Judy – You should be able to find it subtitled. This is called “Povery and Nobility” in English. Not sure about finding this stuff in your local rental place, but let me know how it goes!

  3. Thanks for the great photo and the introduction to Zilda and his street art. I hope this one doesn’t suffer the same fate as his “Voyage au bout de l’ephemere”!

  4. I love your blog, you have a very “good eye” and great technique! I enjoyed your writings too! Sei bravissima!!!

  5. I appreciate the labour you have put in developing this blog. Nice and informative.

  6. I love to see talent like that! Thank you!

  7. ItalyTutto – Neighborhoods like Pigneto are kind of like little safe havens for street art. However, I think every artist of this genre goes into it knowing that whatever they put up is temporary. It just goes with the territory. For instance, he must have been pretty sure that piece in France would get ripped down quickly based on where it was, which is why I image he was stationed out there to photograph it (or just got a lucky moment!). But the ephemeral nature of these pieces are part of what makes photography so integral to street art, because one day it’s gone and the photographs are the only record.

    Valeria – Grazie mille! Sono contenta che ti piacciono le foto e quello che scrivo. 🙂

    Rocky – Thank you very much! Comments like yours are what makes it worth all the effort.

    Tapirgirl – Thank you as well. I hope you come back to visit often.

  8. I love Totò he was a comedy genius. His films with Peppino de Filippo are great, I love La Malafemmina, and also La Banda Degli Onesti and Totò, Peppino e i fuorilegge, films that just make me laugh out loud. Reading your blog post has made me desire to watch them again 🙂 Time to dig out the DVD’s! ☺


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