La Vita È Bella: It’s True!

Nicole B. is currently a junior at SYA Italy and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.

“La Vita È Bella” is a classic Italian film directed by Roberto Benigni that SYA Italy watched together as a school. This movie is an important part of Italian culture, it is simply legendary. My host dad praises Roberto Benigni for creating a movie about the Holocaust that is not only sentimental, honest and beautiful, but also funny. When he told me this, I doubted it because how can a movie about the Holocaust be funny? I was skeptical, but excited because every Italian adores this movie, so it has to be good. And let me tell you, I wasn’t disappointed.

I didn’t know what I was getting into when we sat in the school salone, in those classroom chairs, staring at the projector screen with my classmates, on that Wednesday morning. I laughed hard at the jokes, and they were plenty! And I was pleasantly surprised when I understood them. (SPOILER ALERT) I swooned at Guido and Dora’s relationship, and when he would say, “Buongiorno principessa!” But I also frowned whenever Guido had to lie to his son, Giosuè, in the concentration camp. And I cried when Guido was killed by a Nazi. And then I became angry that he let himself get caught when he could’ve hid. I never thought I would feel so many emotions because of a movie. I never saw it coming, but my host dad was right: it’s a special movie, and I loved it.

So I was very elated to hear that the whole school would go to Arezzo next Wednesday, where most of the film was made. Going to Arezzo, was my first time in Tuscany so I was excited to be in a region that is famous for its people, its landscape and the food. Despite the gloomy clouds and rain, I loved the long wide streets and the big stores and the tall buildings and the inviting cafes. I loved walking around. And the restaurant where we had our lunch was just phenomenal, small but phenomenal. It was also very exciting to be on the street, in the same spot, where some of the scenes were filmed.

This entire experience was not only very educational, for I learned a lot about the Holocaust from a different perspective, but I got to discover a beautiful city and experience just a little bit more of Italy.

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