Sprawling Cinecittà complex is in demand again thanks to tax breaks and boom in film and TV production

Walk through the 1930s-built, dusty pink gates of Cinecittà, the legendary film studios in Rome, and the magic of its golden era is immediately palpable. This is where Charlton Heston rode to victory in his chariot race in Ben Hur, which went on to win 11 Oscars. It is where the real-life love affair between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton played out on the set of Cleopatra, and where Federico Fellini produced classics including La Dolce Vita and Amarcord.

The sprawling Cinecittà was opened with great pomp by Benito Mussolini in 1937, in part to make films promoting the dictator’s fascist propaganda. During the second world war it was first occupied by the Nazis and later became a refuge to the thousands made homeless by the allied bombing of the Italian capital.

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