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Intimacy and Hedonism: The Aesthetics of the Terrazza in Italian Cinema

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Publication details

JournalSpace and Culture
DateE-pub ahead of print - 24 Feb 2019
DatePublished (current) - 1 Nov 2020
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)394-408
Early online date24/02/19
Original languageEnglish


This article discusses the developments of the terrazza (“roof terrace”) as a cinematic space in post-war and contemporary Italian films. By taking a historical approach, I show how the terrazza has evolved, from the post-war years to the present, to become an architecture of intimacy and hedonism. In Italian film aesthetics, the terrazza replaces the piazza (“square”), the space normally assumed to represent quintessential Italian life. This article considers the cinematic and aesthetic development of elevated architectural space in five key films, ranging from the post-war classics Mario Monicelli’s I soliti ignoti (Big Deal on Madonna Street, 1958) and Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’avventura (The Adventure, 1960), through Una giornata particolare (A Special Day, 1977) and La terrazza (The Terrace, 1980) by Ettore Scola, to Paolo Sorrentino’s very contemporary La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty, 2013), a film clearly indebted to the aesthetics of its ground-breaking predecessors.

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