My favorite movie is Pane e Tulipani, ( Bread and Tulips ) an Italian movie directed in 1999 by Silvio Soldini and starring Bruno Ganz, Licia Maglietta, Marina Massironi, Giuseppe Battiston.
Licia Maglietta plays Rosalba, an unappreciated housewife that gets left behind at an autogrill (rest stop) near Rome on a vacation with her family. Hitchhiking home she takes a turn driving for the sleepy guy who picks her up and on impulse she bolts, blowing by the exit for her town in Pescara and heading for Venezia. A great adventure begins for her, and as the tagline says, she begns imagining her life and living it.
I have watched this movie so many times that I can recite the lines with the actors, still laughing, crying, and getting goosebumps at all the same parts. It is sweet, simple, and extremely romantic for an old lady like me because Rosalba’s mature, understated relationship with Fernando ( not your usual pretty boy leading man) feels real.
Despite some of the darker themes, like Fernando’s suicidal thoughts, Pane e Tulipani is very funny, with lots of quirky touches that you might miss the first time it’s watched. (Like the poetry Fernando memorized in prison and recites at the oddball night club.) People who complain about the realism in this film and compare it to more serious movies are missing the point – this is the anti – Hollywood love story. It’s a dreamy fairy tale in an beautiful city with ordinary eccentrics instead invented characters that seem eccentric just for the sake of being eccentric.
Massironi, who plays a massage therapist who befriends Rosalba, and Battiston, who plays the cut rate private detective her husband hires to drag her back home are just adorable, and their own little subplot is equally touching.
I don’t really know why this movie has become so important to me – I don’t want to run away from my family or anything like that. But I do appreciate the story of a normal woman my age coming into her self and making the most of her life.
I think I’ll go watch it again.
Rent it from Netflix
2000 – Director: Silvio Soldini
Writers: Silvio Soldini (story), Doriana Leondeff (story)
Stars: Licia Maglietta, Bruno Ganz and Giuseppe Battiston