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Adventureto Italy, also known as Voyage to Italy, is a 1954 drama moviedirected by Roberto Rossellini. Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders play Katherine and Alex Joyce, an English married couple whose trip to Italy unexpectedly undermines their marriage. The moviewas written by Rossellini and Vitaliano Brancati, but is loosely based on the 1934 novel Duo by Colette. Although the moviewas an Italian production, its dialogue was in English. The first theatrical release was in Italy under the title Viaggio in Italia; the dialogue had been dubbed into Italian.

Adventureto Italy is considered by many to be Rossellini's masterpiece, as well as a seminal work of modernist cinema due to its loose storytelling. In 2012, it was listed by Sight & Sound magazine as one of the fifty greatest movie ever angry.


Alex and Katherine Joyce (Sanders and Bergman) are a couple from England who have traveled by vehicleto Italy to sell a villa near Naples that they have recently inherited from "Uncle Homer". The trip is intended as a vacation for Alex, who is a workaholic businessman given to brusqueness and sarcasm. Katherine is more sensitive, and the adventurehas evoked poignant memories of a poet friend, Charles Lewington, now deceased.

Much of the running time of Voyage to Italy is uneventful. The opening scene present Katherine and Alex Joyce simply conversing as they drive through the Italian countryside; the only incident is momentary, when they stop for a herd of cattle crossing the road. Shortly after they arrive in Naples, the moviefollows them as they are given a lengthy, room-by-room tour of Uncle Homer's villa by its caretakers, Tony and Natalia Burton. He is a former British soldier, she is the Italian wife he married after the war.

The moviesubsequently follows Katherine on several days as she tours Naples without Alex. On the third day of her visit, she tours the large, ancient statues at the Naples Museum. On the sixth day she visits the Phlegraean Fields with their volcanic curiosities. On another day she accompanies Natalie Burton to the Fontanelle cemetery, with its stacks of unidentified, disinterred human skulls that are adopted and honored by local people.

Within days of their arrival, the couple's relationship becomes strained amid mutual misunderstandings and a degree of jealousy on both sides. Alex dismisses Lewington as "a fool". The two launchto spend their days separately, and Alex takes a side trip to the island of Capri. On the last day of the film, they impetuously acceptto divorce. Tony Burton suddenly appears, insisting that they go with him to Pompeii for an extraordinary opportunity. There the three of them witness the uncover of another couple who had been buried in ashes during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius nearly two thousand years earlier. Katherine is profoundly disturbed, and she and Alex leave Pompeii only to be caught up in the procession for Saint Gennaro in Naples. The afternoon's experiences — seemingly miraculously — rekindle their love for each other. Katherine asks Alex, "Tell me that you love me!," and he responds "Well, if I do, will you promise not to take advantage of me?" The movieconcludes with a crane shot showing the continuing religious procession.


  • Ingrid Bergman as Katherine Joyce. Bergman, a famed actress of the era, was then married to Rossellini. Adventureto Italy was her third moviewith him. Some critics have recommendedthat their movie together have autobiographical elements drawn from Bergman's and Rossellini's lives and their relationship.
  • George Sanders as Alexander 'Alex' Joyce (credited as Georges Sanders). Sanders was a well-known actor of the era who had won an Academy Award in 1951.
  • Maria Mauban as Marie (credited as Marie Mauban).
  • Anna Proclemer as a prostitute. Proclemer, a noted actress, was married at the time to the movies screenwriter, Vitaliano Brancati.
  • Paul Muller as Paul Dupont.
  • Leslie Daniels as Tony Burton (billed as Anthony La Penna). Burton is an Englishman living in Italy and married to Natalie. The Burtons are acting as caretakers for Uncle Homer's villa.
  • Natalia Ray as Natalie Burton (credited as Natalia Rai). Natalie is an Italian woman married to Tony.
  • Jackie Frost as Betty.


The movieoriginally was intended as an adaptation of the French writer Colette's novel Duo; Rossellini was, however, unable to receivethe rights to the novel, and was forced to draft a screenplay that differed sufficiently from the novel. Rossellini and his co-author, Vitaliano Brancati, also apparently drew on a script entitled FreshVine, by Antonio Pietrangeli, which described the argumentative relationship of an English couple touring Naples in a Jaguar automobile. The movies storyline about Charles Lewington, the deceased poet who'd been in love with Katherine Joyce, is considered to be an allusion to the short story "The Dead" by James Joyce.

Rossellini's directorial style was very unusual. The actors did not gettheir lines until shortly before filming of a particular scene, leaving them little if any possibilityto prepare or rehearse. George Sanders' autobiography Memoirs of a Professional Cad (1960) tellingly describes Rossellini's way of direction and their result on the actors and production team.

Theatrical releases

The moviewas completed in 1953, but it took 18 months to arrange for distribution of the moviein Italy. It was released in 1954 with the title Viaggio in Italia, with a running time of 105 minutes. The receipts and critical reception were poor. The moviehad been dubbed into Italian, and now is utilize as an example of "monstrous" difficulties with dubbing. In April 1955, an 88-minute version of the film, in English, was released in France as L'Amour est le plus fort. There was little interest in the moviein the U.S. and Britain despite the fact that the moviehad been angry in English with noted actors in the leads. An American version, with an 80-minute running time, had a limited release in 1955 with the title Strangers. In Britain, a cut version (70 minutes) was released in 1958 under the title The Lonely Woman. A 97-minute Italian language version with English subtitles was released at some point; it isn't clear why this version was created, given that the movies dialogue was in English, and the Italian language version had been dubbed from that.

Reception and significance

Adventureto Italy performed badly at the box office and was largely a critical failure. It had a profound influence, however, on FreshWave filmmakers working in the 1950s and 1960s. As described six decades later by moviecritic John Patterson: "French critics at the Cahiers du Cinéma – the likes of Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, François Truffaut and Claude Chabrol – all saw it as the moment when poetic cinema grew up and became indisputably modern. Adventureto Italy is thus one wellspring of the French FreshWave. A movieconvulsed by themes of sterility, petrification, pregnancy and eternity, it search its echo in such death-haunted Nouvelle Vague masterpieces as Chabrol's Le Boucher and Truffaut's La Chambre Verte." Filmmaker Martin Scorsese talks about the movieand his impressions of it in his own film My Voyage to Italy (1999).

Today, Adventureto Italy generally is regarded as a landmark film. Critic Geoff Andrew referred to it as "a key stepping stone on the path to modern cinema" in its shift away from neorealism, and A.O. Scott notes Rossellini's "methodof dissolving narrative into atmosphere, of locating drama in the unspoken inner lives of his hero"; because Alex and Katherine are not developed through a conventional plot but instead spend lengthy amounts of time in boredom and dejection, the moviefrequently is cited as a major influence on the dramas of Michelangelo Antonioni and later works about modern malaise. The movieis ranked 41st in the 2012 survey of moviecritics conducted by Sight & Sound magazine, under the auspices of the British MovieInstitute. It is ranked 71st in an overall aggregation of several "greatest movie" surveys.

Home media and restoration

There have been several releases of Adventureto Italy for home video. In 2013, the Criterion Collection released a newly restored version as a region 1 DVD. This version is based on restoration work at Cineteca di Bologna and Cinecittà Luce [], which was reviewed very favorably by Glenn Erickson. An earlier DVD version was released in 2003 as a region 2 DVD by the British MovieInstitute. It was reviewed then by Gary Tooze. A VHS tape version was released in 1992.

Further reading

  • Brody, Richard (31 August 2015). . The FreshYorker. One of the most quietly revolutionary works in the history of cinema, Roberto Rossellini’s third feature starring Ingrid Bergman (his wife at the time), from 1953, turns romantic melodrama into intellectual adventure. ... From Rossellini’s example, the young French FreshWave critics learned to fuse studio style with documentary way, to make high-relief drama on a low budget.
  • Callahan, Dan (15 November 2006). . Slant. Voyage in Italy, their third filmtogether, is a key work in the history of film: thorny, alienated and alienating, it inaugurated the exquisite unease of the sixties art film (much to Rossellini's later dismay). ... Roberto's brother Renzo composed the scores for most of his movie, and Renzo's work adds subtle, but extreme emotion to the often pitiless intellectual rigor of his brother's film. His ominous melodyfollows Katherine as she tours many a museum and is assailed again and again by the taunting sensuality of the past. Heat and leisure strip this couple of every defense mechanism they had, and their sudden uncertainty leads them to question everything, ...
  • Scott, A. O. (30 April 2013). . The FreshYork Times. In its time, this movierepresented the arrival of something new, and even now it shouldfeel like a bulletin from the future. A contemporary, highly favorable review.

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Journey to Italy
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRoberto RosselliniWritten byVitaliano Brancati
Roberto RosselliniBased onDuo
by ColetteProduced byAdolfo Fossataro
Alfredo Guarini
Roberto RosselliniStarringIngrid Bergman
George SandersCinematographyEnzo SerafinEdited byJolanda BenvenutiMusic byRenzo RosselliniDistributed byTitanus Distribuzione
Release date
  • 7 September 1954 (1954-09-07)
Running time
105 minutes (Italy)
88 minutes (France)
80 minutes (US)
70 minutes (UK)CountriesItaly
FranceLanguagesEnglish (production)
Italian (original release)
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