I mentioned I’d see the first episode of IL FALCO E LA COLOMBA (The Falcon and the Dove) this weekend, and did it just this morning. It was broadcast on Italian TV, Canale 5, last Tuesday. It is a six-part costume drama set in central Italy in the 16th century. They say it is loosely ( and indeed it is ) taken from a novella by Stendhal, "The Abbess of Castro" . 
(You can read it online HERE)

The context

1528: It was a hard time. Rome was ruled by wicked and corrupt Pope Clemens VII, with unfair and uncertain laws . There were plots for power and fratricidal fights. The landlords took up arms and started bloody fights in order to grow their richness, lands and power while their people could barely eat and not every day.
Love was a notion left to the poets and very briefly mentioned in the wedding vows. Women were given in marriage to men they didn’t even know and , even less, love. In that cruel and unjust world, a young couple of lovers live an extraordinary series of adventures.

Episode 1

Elena Campireali (Cosima Coppola), a beautiful noble young lady, has just left the convent of Castro, where she was educated. She belongs to a wealthy family from Albano, loyal to Pope Clemens VII. She dearly loves her mother, Beatrice (Sabina Began), and Marietta (Alessandra Barzaghi), her most reliable maid. Beatrice has planned for her daughter a marriage of convenience with Prince Savelli (Fabio Testi), a powerful Lord very close to the Pope . Giulio (Giulio Berruti), a handsome, brave brigand fighting for Prince Colonna, an opponent to the Pope, and Elena couldn’t be more distant: because of tehir rank, because of the rivalry between the environments they belong to, because of their different education: he is a falcon and she is a dove. Despite all that, they meet and fall in love.

Their first meeting is both adventurous and amusing: he is escaping from papal soldiers and hides inside a confessional in an isolated church. Elena stops there to get some rest during her journey back home from the convent. She wants to speak about her secret fears to a priest, in the intimacy of a confession.  But it is not exactly a patient priest, the person who is listening to her.

Their second meeting is rather shocking for Elena. She has a tamed dove she loves and, while she was going horse-riding, she sees it attacked and killed by a falcon. The predator belongs to Giulio who, then,  tries to calm down the angry, disappointed girl. They soon recognize each other after their first meeting and are rather embarassed. She leaves him without answering his questions. She doesn’t reveal him her name, either.
Elena meets her future husband, Prince Savelli. He is kind and generous to her. He will also  ask the Pope to appoint Fabio Campireali, Elena’s brother, as one of his cardinals and will pay her parents a great sum in order to marry her. She is much younger than him and so beautiful.

Meanwhile,  Giulio has discovered Elena’s identity and, risking his life , he starts wooing her : secretly entering the guarded palace at night, leaving flowers and doves in her bedroom, healing her wounded dove for her, going to a masked ball in her fiance’s palace - in order to kill him. Elena is divided between her sense of duty and her feelings for Giulio. She doesn’t know anything about love and starts asking her maid, Marietta, her mother and her governess: “What is there after the kissing?”
Of course, none of them will answer her question. She will discover it by herself before the end of this first episode, thanks to Giulio.
 She is promised to Prince Savelli and has to marry him by six months;  her brother, as a cardinal of the Pope , is considered an enemy by Prince Colonna, Giulio’s boss. What will the two lovers do now?

What I liked

1.The locations, the costumes, the natural setting – so beautiful and so familiar. The series was shot in the area where I live. For example, Prince Savelli’s Palace is an awesome renaissance villa with fountains in Tivoli (half an hour from my town) called Villa D’Este. I’ve been there several times and was so excited at seeing it on the screen as the setting of a costume drama.

2. Tha parties and the balls scenes

3. Ana Galiena (Elena’s governess), Sabina Began (Elena’s mother), Enrico Lo Verso (Armido, one of Giulio’s mates) were very good in their roles.

4. Giulio Berruti (Giulio), as long as he was silent. He is undeniably and undoubtedly extremely handsome.

What I didn’t like

1. The fact that the two lead actors were extremely beautiful but very bad at delivering their lines, meaning they are not very good actors. They are not experienced and it is obvious they did not attend any drama school. As it usually happens in our beautiful Italy, if you are good – looking you can become an actor, a tv presenter, a dancer on TV programmes, even a minister (ooops, sorry, this is not a political blog!) though you do not have any talent or skills.

2. The language of the script . Too modern, trivial and obvious sometimes. Not at all probable in a Renaissance context.

Overall impression? I’ll see next episode, or better I’ll record it on Tuesday night, in order to see it with calm at the weekend.

I’ll leave you with a clip from IL FALCO E LA COLOMBA, I found on Utube. I know it’s in Italian and many of you are English native speakers. Just have a look at the awasome costumes and locations. They deserve attention and admiration.

Have you noticed? A masked ball. Rather Shakespearean, isn’t it? Like in “Romeo and Juliet”or “Much Ado about Nothing”. What lacks is … the quality of the lines, the poetry in the words. But never mind, have you seen how beautiful Villa D’Este is?
In the final part of the clip Elena tells Giulio she has finished reading a book about two lovers. She refers to Paolo and Francesca (Dante Alighieri tells about them in his Inferno) and she is worried and frightened because they were killed , after being discovered together, by Francesca’s husband. Is it a premonition? Is this their Fate, too?

If you want to know what happens to the two young lovers… follow this blog next week.


Anonymous said...


I couldn't bring myself to read ths post word for word because I know it'll make me go nuts when I learn that this series is a great romance which I won't be able to watch as it is in another language!!!!!! I don't know if you know this series, but it's called "Elisa Di Rivombrosa" and I read the plot summary for it, was so intrigued by it, that I went insane and watched up to episode 12 without understanding ANYTHING the characters were saying. It was tormenting. I don't want to go through that experience again....*sigh*

It's sad though. I know of so many foreign movies/series I want to watch but can't as it has no subtitles

Maria Grazia said...

Hello, June! Yes, this series is very similar to "Elisa di Rivombrosa" which is very loosely based on Richardson's "Pamela" and I saw several years ago on TV. It was partly shot here in the monsteries of my little town and in the mountains nearby. I'm sorry I can't help you much. What I could do is adding a translation of the dialogue in the clip but ... I haven't got much spare time at the moment. So, better not to promise what I can't keep! Thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

A very interesting post... I was searching for Stendhal's story (I love it and I wanted to read it one more time) and I found your blog by chance, I like it a lot! Thanks so much for posting these episodes too, I'll watch them! :)


Maria Grazia said...

You're welcome! Come back any time you want or have time to. Cheers!

Unknown said...

Hello I would ask if you can recommend some other movies or series like this or 'Elisa di Rivombrosa'(I really liked this one)? I already watched all bbc and other period dramas and all the movies based on the novels from jane austen. This is the reason why im searching for italian series or movies. Some suggestions?

Maria Grazia said...

Hello Fina, have you seen this movie starring Alessandro Preziosi (Elisa di Rivombrosa)? It is a costume movie based on a 19th century Italian novel by Federico De Roberto https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcNkkGNf6cg
There are so many good British /American period series I do not have enough time to watch them. I never watch Italian TV though I live in Italy.