Reviews - What do customers think about Dolce Vita Style?
Waiting for the end Feb 24, 2006
Jean-Pierre Dufreigne's Dolce Vita Style starts out describing my favorite scene from the unforgettable film Fellini's Roma. The scene takes place at one of the city's innumerable cafes, where an anonymous woman asks writer Gore Vidal why he chooses to live in Rome. Mr. Vidal answers as if he had been expecting the question: "Rome is the only place to be," he says, "to wait for the end."
That's pretty much true, at least if you were living in the go-go Dolce Vita years, which were already drawing to a close by the time the film was made in 1972. The over-the-top style of those days were like a candle burning not only on both ends but also at several points in the middle.
But, boy, did they ever look good doing it.
That's the best thing about this book: the photography really captures the feel of Rome during the Dolce Vita years. For anyone who knows the Via Veneto as is is today -- home to the U.S. Embassy and the Hard Rock Cafe -- the photos of the parties in the street there in the 1960s will cause a double take. Ditto for scenes from the Spanish Steps, the Campidoglio, and Piazza Navona. The photo selection is excellent: Mr. Dufreigne, a journalist with France's L'Express, avoids cliche shots like Antia Ekberg in the Trevi Fountain (though there is a less-well-known shot from that series near the end of the book, and a modern remake with model Claudia Schiffer in Ms. Ekberg's place) in favor of unfamiliar images that capture the mood perfectly.
Sadly, beyond that there is little to recommend the book besides that. The text -- for the most part spoken in Italian, transcribed in the book in Mr. Dufreigne's native French, and then translated into English for this edition -- sounds melodramatic and forced. And although it is handsomely bound, the layout can be frustrating: captions for photos are rarely on the same page as the photo, a lack of paragraph indents can make some pages appear to be a single run-on sentence, and the lack of an index and only the vaguest table of contents makes picking and choosing what to read an exercise in frustration.