Antica Barbieria Colla’s Characters: Roberto Benigni

No more than a few weeks ago the Venice Biennale, the institution that organizes the famous Venice International Film Festival, has decided to award the 2021 Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement to the Italian director, actor and screenwriter Roberto Benigni, who already won the Academy Award in 1999 for his movie Life is beautiful.

When we hear the news in the shop, we immediately look at that autograph on the wall and the memory brings back an anecdote from some time ago:

Text taken from Presi per i capelli by Franco Bompieri (Mondadori 2000)


« With the candle flame, I singed the ends of Roberto Benigni’s battered hair, in a patient attempt to strengthen it. He looked at himself in the mirror with wild eyes and an amused grin.

“Oh no, you have to do this thing to me in a movie, it’s too funny”.

I keep manipulating Benigni’s scalp with thaumaturgical intensity: burning, massaging, washing, rubbing, drying, in a game to save his remaining few and fragile hair.

He had more when I went watching him for the first time in a theater in Milan. Fifteen spectators, a handkerchiefs on his face, convulsed grimaces to make it fall. Finally, here comes a sharp, sly, sneering face, a voice full of dialectal inflections and the vitriolic satire typical of his main character at the time.

It seems to me I have done a good job, deserving the autograph hung on a wall in the shop: “To Franco, the greatest in the world”. »