Via Aurelio Saffi, 8, Rocca San Casciano
The history of the Rocca San Casciano Italia Theatre has a precise starting date. On 10 April 1840, in fact, a rescript of Grand Duke Leopold II approved the establishment of the Theatre Academy called “dei Riconoscenti”, formed by representatives of the city’s bourgeoisie, who chose as emblem a sunflower with the motto “Lo sguardo fiso in lui che mi die’ vita”.
Built at the instigation of the founder of the Accademia Cosimo Tassinari and architect Francesco Violani Traversari of Portico di Romagna, the Theatre cost 4,204.81 Frenchmen donated by the same academics.
The building was inaugurated with a solemn ceremony in 1842 and for eighty years the Academy took care of the activity of the Theatre. In those years was part of the Academy also a very young Federigo Cappelli, founder of the homonymous printing press later very well known publishing house, which was responsible for the local filodrammatica.
From the inauguration until the end of the nineteenth century, the Academicians organized in the Theatre countless artistic and cultural events of good standard and hosted illustrious personalities of art and politics.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Theatre first declined and then became inactive due to the disappearance or transfer of the members of the Academy.
In 1918 an earthquake that hit the whole Apennines severely damaged the building that, still unsafe, was donated in 1920 to the Municipality of Rocca San Casciano. The latter immediately approved a restoration project which, however, was not followed up because in 1921 the Civil Engineer of Florence ordered the demolition of the building. Demolition completed between 5 and 17 March of the same year.
Only in the early thirties, after many difficulties and thanks to a state funding, on the same area of the old Theatre, was rebuilt the new hall, in the typical architectural forms of the twentieth century, to the design of the architect Domenico Mortani.
Of the original building is of particular interest the monumental main façade on Via Saffi, characterized by a large central body, punctuated by four large windows overlooking the same number of arched doors, framed by two side bodies that, separating the Theatre from the other elements of the anonymous street front, they accentuate its relevance.
The characterization also makes use of the bichrome of the building given by the use of pietra serena on the ground floor and the brick in the upper part that ‘moving’ the facade creates an effect of light and shadow, full and empty.
The inauguration of the Teatro Comunale / Casa Littoria took place on October 28, 1933, while the official opening to the public took place on April 21, 1934. For the occasion the “Don Pasquale” by Gaetano Donizetti was represented and an automobile service was also activated to accompany the guests of the other centers of the valley.
The Theatre thus recovered its function as a cultural and social centre, which it already occupied in the past, with the staging of operas and performances given by the filodrammatica. Pending its reconstruction, the same function had been carried out, in the absence of anything else, by the council hall of the City Hall.
From the post-war period to the present day, the structure has been used as a cinema and ballroom; as well as a multipurpose hall suitable for hosting political and trade union events, screenings and dancing parties. This functional evolution is underlined by the change of the name of the theatre itself: from “Cinema Jolly” in the 60s to the Vincenzo Muccioli municipal hall to the current Teatro Italia.
Credits: Author of the text Avv. Elisa Rabiti