The Italian Neorealist cinema, ranging from the Forties to the Fifties, has had a great reputation all over the world and today the echoes of its fame can still be heard. The main subject of Neorealist cinema is the image of a poor and provincial Italy, where the moral, aesthetic and political aspect play an important role.
The leading exponents of the movement are film directors like Roberto Rossellini, Luchino Visconti, Vittorio De Sica, Michelangelo Antonini, Giuseppe De Santis, Pietro Germi, Alberto Lattuada, Renato Castellani, Luigi Zampa and screenwriters like Cesare Zavattini and Carlo Lizzani. Federico Fellini is well worth considering, because he takes a critical stance on Neorealism, even if he accepts some of its principles. Neorealism has several features: films are shot with non-professional actors, all the scenes take place outside, especially in the suburbs and in the countryside; in the script, the life of workers and people impoverished by the war are narrated; the plot is about common people engaged in carrying out daily living activities. Children play a major role, because they reflect what “the grown-ups should do”. Neorealist films tell stories inspired by real events and issues and show the harshness of life in the post-war period. This image of Italy annoys the left-wing political class, who does not accept this pessimistic view of life.
The meeting places of Neorealists
They could meet either at Renato Guttuso’s studio on via Margutta or at Carlo Levi’s studio at Villa Strohl Fern. But thanks to the economic recovery in the post-war period, artists also began to meet in coffee bars and taverns.
No one could imagine that one meeting place for several Neorealist authors and artists like Mario Monicelli, Giuliano Montaldo, Rodolfo Sonego, Ugo Pirro, Franco Solinas , Giuseppe De Santis, Elio Petri, Luigi Magni, Gillo Pontecorvo, Giuseppe Patroni Griffi (these are only a few…) was the “Osteria dei Pittori”, which is now called “Caffè dei Pittori”, and is located at Via Flaminia N.57.
Now, in this coffee bar students of the Faculty of Architecture at the Sapienza University of Rome meet as well as students of “SSML Gregorio VII “University in Rome – Foreign Languages for International Communication; already in the past, around those very tables, Salvatore Scarpitta told Italo Calvino his adventures on a pepper tree when he was twelve years; within seven years time Calvino’s “Il barone Rampante” [“The Baron in the Trees”] would be published.
The “Osteria dei Pittori”, which was open until the Nineties, was a trattoria run by Menghi brothers. They were enlightened innkeepers, eager for adventuros nights and endless discussions; they accepted paintings in exchange for money in order to let the clients pay the bill; they allowed artists and their friends credits.
So, we can say that this coffee bar was a magic place where all the talented young of the abstract art and of the avant-garde in Rome at the time met in the post-war period.