We are at the gates of Rome, in the Valle del Sacco that reaches as far as Frosinone, the land of emperors, cardinals and popes, how the devil do you call a theatre in the city Vittorio Veneto?
It all started with 3 brothers and a sister from Veneto who arrived initially in Aprilia, for the reclamation of the Pontine Marshes, and went then to Colleferro, where the city was expanding rapidly with the growth of the armaments factory. They were Giuseppe, Antonio, Eugenio and Vittoria. Giuseppe was my grandfather.
The Furlan brothers continued to have Veneto in their hearts and polenta and grappa in their desires. They were workers, then become builders and finally entrepreneurs of the theatre by opening the first cinema in Colleferro. And what could they call it?
Antonio, Eugenio, Giuseppe and Vittoria came from the small village of Cordignano in Veneto and for them the nearby towns of Treviso and Vittorio Veneto were metropolises that inspired respect and admiration. The same astonishment we can have for New York today!
In those areas of Veneto the First World War had been fought and it had left destruction and hunger. A whole generation of youth had emigrated to Brazil, Argentina, Australia and North America and a number had been deported to Latina for the reclamation of the Pontine plain.
Giuseppe wanted to marry someone from his hometown and he sought the beautiful and enterprising Aurelia, a Friulian not very happy to come to the south. He had worked for the association of engineers at Sacile and Pordenone and was used to being independent and going to the theatre and opera.
“If I do not find him waiting for me at the station I will come back and I won’t be going to the south anymore!” she had told her mother. But Giuseppe was at the Aprilia station and Aurelia had suddenly found herself in a countryside she did not know without having done anything except to teach in elementary schools.
Giuseppe had easily obtained a transfer to Colleferro thanks to his gymnastic skills and to directing the ‘Fascist Saturday’: when, in the morning, everyone from the town was in the stadium doing gymnastics! Many people remembered Aurelia, people lined up to see her in safari shorts while she was teaching the whole town push-ups and other exercises.
But Aurelia remained an indomitable figure and Giuseppe had to find something for her to do otherwise she would return to the north and he would lose her. So together with his brothers he decided to open a cinema. Colleferro was no longer a village but had become an industrial and modern town. The factory had grown and had thousands of people coming into one of their shifts every day.
It was the right time to start an entertainment business and the natural choice was to open a cinema near Piazza Mazzini which was then the social heart of the town.
Work began on a new building that included a cinema and theatre with a stage, a health shop for their sister Vittoria and the home of her brother Antonio. Very modern and innovative with dressing rooms and a modern gallery for the public.
And what could this cinema be called? Vittorio Veneto Theatre, of course!