Il Sorpasso

Livorno and the cinema

Very few people realise how important the Tuscan city of Livorno is in the history of the cinema

Livorno has given much to the ‘seventh art’ and has received much in return. The city was singled out by the Lumière brothers during their first transalpine tour, thanks to its fame as a town of culture and tourism. On the 30th June 1896, one ticket cost 50 cents and the queue at Eden Park (today Terrazza Mascagni) was full of children, mothers, literary men, the curious, politicians – everyone wanted to see the seemingly magical projections. In those early days of the history of cinema the full potential of the art of making films had yet to be realised. The people of Livorno were bedazzled by these moving images, images that in the first Lumière brothers films simply showed scenes from everyday life.

During the first decades of the twentieth century, the first narrative genres of films were being made and Livorno was chosen for the debut of the first ever film of this type: ‘La Presa di Roma’ by Filoteo Alberini in 1905. The reason why Livorno was chosen again for such an important cinematographic event was because the city was at the forefront of technology in terms of the quality and number of cinemas in Italy. In 1907 there were an incredible 15 cinemas which worked out to be an average of 1 cinema for every 7163 inhabitants.
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