When Antonio Cederna saved the Appian Way: the documentary on the rediscovered park

The Appia Antica, a unique monument. In its entirety, including pebbles. Like this Antonio Cederna he defined in one of his most famous articles “The Gangsters of the Appian Way”, ‘his’ Appia Antica. A monument to be saved religiously intact. A small documentary captures the figure of the journalist and intellectual “Appia Antica, history of a protection” from Milo Adamiwhich is presented in absolute preview during the XXV edition of the festival CinemAmbiente of Turin in the Made in Italy section, the non-competitive film space that with over thirty titles offers ample evidence of how Italian environmental and environmental cinema is growing.

Appia Antica, the story of a protection: the trailer


“I went back to talking about Antonio Cederna – confesses the director Milo Adami – after” Miriabila Urbis “(his previous documentary of 2018) because there I concentrated on reporting the urban breakdowns in Rome that Cederna entrusted with his articles to the pages of The new documentary, on the other hand, stems from the project that the Appia Antica Archaeological Park and the Antonio Cederna Archive are launching to enhance the Via Appia Antica and to create a sort of widespread museum “. Far from sterile, the commitment to environmental protection and urban planning of Cederna, the “appiomaniac” as his colleagues affectionately called him, is thus affirming itself and today showing all its relevance. “If you reread his articles, with an eye attached to the present, you discover – continues the director – the contemporaneity of his observations on Rome. Discovering that articles written in the 1950s and 1960s are still new should make us reflect on how it is, or not, the capital has grown according to a principle of modernity that Cederna affirmed to be an inalienable right of civil life “.

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Milo Adami’s short documentary tells well Cederna’s idea of ​​making regina viarum, a green wedge that extends from the city center to the Roman castles, capable of giving everyone a timeless landscape. A difficult project to carry out because the beauty of the Appian Way in those years had attracted movie stars, politicians, diplomats and wealthy industrialists ready to build sumptuous villas. 70 were built in a short period. “Ao ‘nun me fa’ magna ‘ner sepulcro, which brings bad luck” it seems to have affirmed Alberto Sordi during a party in the producer’s villa Carlo Ponti. One of the many festivals on the Appian Way of the Roman dolce vita, like that of Gina Lollobrigida organized to announce her return to the cinema after maternity leave. Tombs, sepulchres, friezes, pines and the wind, at least what remained after ten years of looting, was saved (at least on paper since in 2012 the urban planner Vezio De Lucia has calculated the existence of 2.7 million cubic meters of illegal buildings) thanks to the Mancini decree of 1965 which made the area a park. Without Cederna, his repeated complaints, his articles that he began to write when, at the age of twenty-eight, he came to Rome to continue his studies in archeology, probably, the whole area would today be, instead of public, in private hands.

Backpack on his shoulder, to accompany the viewer along the walk on the Appia Antica is the son of Antonio, the actor Giuseppe Cederna who with his brothers Giulio and Camilla oversaw the birth of the Cederna archive. “In Adami’s documentary – explains the actor who also wrote the screenplay – I walk the Via Appia Antica exactly as I did with my father who often took the whole family to spend hours in complete relaxation and contemplation. It was for us, and it still is, a place of peace “.

Giuseppe Cederna has a personal ability to describe places. We have already seen him as an accompanist in the documentaries “Every place is a mine” by Simone Corallini and in “A riveder le stelle” film directed by Emanuele Caruso. In the first he recounted the Quarticciolo district of Rome in a poetic form, in the second he was engaged in a seven-day walk in the mountains of the Piedmontese Val Grande. After all, Giuseppe, even as a child, had earned his role as a witness of spaces and territories when he was portrayed in a corner, often almost hidden, in the photos his father took to document his investigations. But being resumed walking the Appian Way is different. Almost touching.

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“It is a special place. – says Giuseppe Cederna – Not only because the Cederna Archive is located in the archaeological site of Capo di Bove along the Via Appia Antica, but above all because this road represents all the civil and environmental commitment of our father. Knowing that the Ministry of Culture has recently started the process for the candidacy of Via Appia Antica to be included in the Unesco World Heritage List, seems to us the perfect crown. ”

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