Italian ‘Hitler wine’ leaves bad taste with tourists

A Norwegian couple were "astonished" after popping into a shop in Rimini in search of a fine bottle of Italian wine and instead of a pleasant vineyard image on the label, they were met with the face of Adolf Hitler.

Italian 'Hitler wine' leaves bad taste with tourists
Paret Håvard and Geysa Furulund were shocked to find wine adorned with Adolf Hitler's face at a shop in Rimini. Photo: Vini Lunardellei/Paret Håvard

Paret Håvard and Geysa Furulund said the German dictator’s image adorned several bottles, while a couple more were emblazoned with the face of the Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini.

"I heard that this wine is sold all over Italy, also in Rome. They sell it as a souvenir. It's a special wine for special people. I was astonished,” Håvard told The Local.

“I was surprised that there was a market for something like this, because I thought that even in Italy, the market couldn't be so big that it was economic to produce this kind of wine."

The bottles, which were placed on a shelf of dry goods instead of among other wines in the shop, were labelled ‘Adolf Hitler’ and ‘Mein Fuhrer’, while others had a swastika sign.

"There can only be two kinds of people who are buying this wine: you have people who actually identify with these kinds of thoughts, and you have young people haven't lived through the Second World war, so they think it's funny, it is almost a joke," added Håvard.

Vini Lunardelli in Udine has been making the so-called ‘historical' wines since 1995, a range which is intended to "reflect the lives of famous people in Italian and world history, such as Che Guevara, Churchill, Francis Joseph, Gramsci, Hitler, Marx, Mussolini, Napoleon and Sissi,” according to a message on the company’s website.

The company said the wines have “attracted a lot of attention from media around the world both for the originality of the idea and the quality of the product.”

Alessandro Lunardelli, the company’s owner, could not be reached for comment by The Local on Monday.

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Rimini celebrates centenary of legendary Italian director Federico Fellini

Italian resort Rimini this week marked 100 years since the birth of director Federico Fellini, whose visual dreamscapes revolutionised cinema in a career spanning almost half a century.

Rimini celebrates centenary of legendary Italian director Federico Fellini
A still from La Dolce Vita in the exhibition 'Fellini 100 : Immortal Genius'. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Dozens of events are being held around the world and in Italy this year to remember Fellini, considered one of the most influential filmmakers of all time.

The winner of a record four best foreign language film Oscars, he is famed for films set in Rome such as 'La Dolce Vita' (1960), and most of his films were shot in Cinecitta's Studio 5 outside the capital.

But he set his 1973 masterpiece 'Amarcord', a semi-autobiographical comedy about an adolescent boy growing up in 1930s fascist Italy, in the Adriatic resort of Rimini, where he was born on January 20th 1920.

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The city is marking the centenary with a special exhibition and is due to open a museum dedicated to Fellini, who died in 1993, by the end of the year.

“Rimini is everywhere in Fellini's cinema, the countryside in his films is Rimini's countryside, the sea in all Fellini's films is Rimini's sea,” said Marco Leonetti of the Rimini Cinematheque which helped put on the exhibition.

The show includes some of the more spectacular costumes from his films, as well as frequently erotic extracts from the sketchbooks of his dreams he created for his psychotherapist over a 30-year period.

Costumes on display at the 'Fellini 100 : Immortal Genius' exhibition. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

'The maestro from Rimini'

Originally an artist and caricaturist, Fellini paid to watch films as a child at Rimini's Fulgor cinema by drawing caricatures, and his films remain caricatures of society.

“If you take Fellini's films, like 'Amarcord', 'La Dolce Vita', 'I Vitelloni', when you watch them all, it's as if you're flicking through a history book, you travel through the history of our country, the history of Italy, from the 1930s to the 1980s,” Leonetti told AFP.

READ ALSO: Fellini's La Strada: a vision of masculinity and femininity that still haunts us today

Fellini was initially appreciated more abroad than in Italy, where he frequently scandalised the conservative society of the 1950s.

His films embodied a sense of irony, the ability to invent, and a sense of beauty, said Leonetti. “These are the three qualities of his art, qualities which also created 'made in Italy', and that's why Fellini, besides having told the story of our country the best, is also the person who best represents it,” he said.

A photograph of Federico Fellini. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Fellini has inspired generations of directors since, including Britain's Peter Greenaway and Spain's Pedro Almodovar. US director David Lynch, who shares the same birthday as Fellini, in 1997 declared his love for the “maestro from Rimini”.

“There's something about his films… They're so magical and lyrical and surprising and inventive. The guy was unique. If you took his films away, there would be a giant chunk of cinema missing,” Lynch told filmmaker Chris Rodley.

Fellini played “a shameless game of reflections and autobiographical projections” with his actors, the exhibition said.

The exhibition 'Fellini 100. Immortal genius' ends in March but will then travel to Rome and on to cities including Los Angeles, Moscow and Berlin.

By AFP's Charles Onians