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Donatella Cinelli Colombini remembers Federico Fellini

DETTAGLI ALLEGATOSalvato. Federico-Fellini-a-Montalcino-Fattoria-dei-Barbi-con-Francesca-Colombin

Donatella Cinelli Colombini remembers Federico Fellini

Three little personal episodes that portray Federico Fellini. The man, his need for simplicity, his free and eccentric his great kindness


Federico Fellini with
his wife and the Guidotti and Cinelli Colombini families

by Donatella Cinelli Colombini

My memories go back to the years between 1975 and 1985; I was a young woman and was living between Montalcino and Siena. This was a very middle class existence and however decidedly provincial. I was used to meeting with intellectual and famous people because my family had always associated with that type of person, but Federico Fellini was surely out of range

That man was quite a myth. A worldwide recognized genius with 5 Oscars. His fame was so big that it would have daunted even those more equipped than I. In front of him I was consequently very nervous. My hands were sweaty I was unable to sit still and most of all I was able only to say a few polite sentences but was unable to have a proper conversation. I thought I didn’t have anything that would be interesting to say. What a shame!!

Federico Fellini and his wife Giulietta Masina would come to Tuscany for the Chianciano thermal waters. From there they would come to Montalcino for a break during the sessions, and maybe even for a gluttonous escape. Often they would come with Mario Guidotti or sometimes with the young Fabio Carlesi.


Federico Fellini at Fattoria dei Barbi in Montalcino

Fellini was always untidy as though he hated to have his clothes ironed. His wife on the other hand was always impeccable with her hair done and creaseless clothes. The Maestro did not speak much but would look around with curiosity and was very interested in wine. He loved good food so my mother lured him with roasted meats and Brunello.



This man was an eccentric in such a spontaneous way to leave one speechless. Once we had organized a dinner for him in the garden but it was cold. So we proposed different things for him to put on to keep warm, and he chose a horrible red woollen shawl with long fringes. It would have been tasteless on any women but he wore it and enjoyed our embarrassment.

On another occasion he arrived unexpectedly and I was home with a house full of friends for party. Among these were Azelia Batazzi and her boyfriend Franco Becci who reminded me of the episode a short while ago. The sudden arrival of the maestro embarrassed me and not being able to organize something exclusively for him I decided to add him to the group, << can I ask Federico Fellini to join you?>> you I asked the group. They were enthusiastic about this unexpected meeting but were unable to speak to him while e savoured his prosciutto and bread.


Federico Fellini at Fattoria dei Barbi with Francesca Colombini

But finally  there is another episode that I remember with even more pleasure. Again I was home alone and Federico Fellini came by to order some Brunello to be shipped Georges Simenon.

In those days the office on the estate was a very small room with just one typewriter and he sat at the table to write a letter to accompany the wine. It was not possible to erase so each time he made a mistake, he had to pull out the sheet of paper and begin again. When he left the office waste paper bin was full of drafts written with wonderful wording and full of ironic comments regarding his rapport with the creator of Maigret. I have always been very respectful of rules and as a proper, host, I destroyed all those letters.

So unfortunately I have always lived with the regret that I hadn’t been more  indiscreet and kept the “stolen” memoirs of one of the greatest geniuses I have ever met.


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