Cinema Excelsior

Cinema Excelsior, exterior

Montecatini Terme’s Art Nouveau style has always fascinated film directors around the world due to its elegance and uniqueness. Buildings and streets in the city have been used as open-air sets for some famous films, including Dark Eyes (1987), Dove vai in vacanza? (1978) and Camping (1957), Franco Zeffirelli’s first film.

The temple in which these films were screened was the Cinema Excelsior, a sublime example of the architecture of Ugo Giovannozzi. The latter was a Florentine engineer responsible for the early 20th century renovation of many of the city’s spas, including the Cinema Excelsior in 1922. The building was constructed near one of Montecatini’s many vanished fountains, the so-called“Acqua della Speranza”, and the Birindelli house.

A number of details of the Cinema Excelsior illustrate Ugo Giovannozzi’s eclectic taste, notably the iron and glass canopy and the façade inspired by the Doric order of the Archaic period. Walking up Viale Verdi , one can admire other buildings that the refined engineer had the merit of renovating, such as the Terme Leopoldine, the Terme Tettuccio and the Terme Regina.