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text Giovanni Bogani photo Maria La Torre

January 22, 2016

Chiara Francini between cinema, theatre and television

Our meeting with the well-known Florentine actress who will co-host the Sanremo Festival 2023 this evening

Exuberant and vital, the Florentine Chiara Francini is endowed with a lightning sense of humor, but also a subdued and quiet melancholy, and is one of the actresses who has emerged on the Italian theatre and cinema scene in recent years.

She adores Monica Vitti, Laura Morante and Isabelle Huppert. She was born in Florence but mostly lives on high-speed trains bound for Rome or Milan, taking her from a movie set to a theatre, from a photo studio to an interview. For years, she has had a Swedish boyfriend, and against the maelstroms of falling in and out of love that proliferate in the entertainment business, her stability is another small miracle.

Half of Italy is in love with her. She has won awards: best actress in Soap Opera at the festival in Rome, the Biraghi prize in Venice for Maschi contro femmine, and she has also become the face for a major phone company, working in a comic ad campaign next to Raoul Bova.

You started in Florence. And perhaps Pitti...
Yes! When I was a girl, to make a bit of money, I used to work as a hostess at Pitti. The idea of going back there, which I’ll be doing in January, makes me really happy. Now I’m no longer the hostess. I’m the pilot! She laughs.

Are you staying in Florence these days?
With my mother. Born and raised in Campi, a small town close to Florence, now part of the city. My mother, who dreamed of having a daughter who would be a writer or professor, would say, “Chiara, if you leave, I’ll die.” Then I left and she didn’t die, though! Fortunately…

How strong is your sense of belonging in Florence?
Ontologically, I’m Florentine, in my whole way of being. It’s something a person can’t hide. The Florentine monosyllabic way of speaking, the short, blunt answer, is a way of being. Ours is a way of being, and speaking. Sarcastic, blunt, sweet but also strong.

The Florentine you love the most?
Oriana Fallaci. She had the spirit of the modern woman. She was aggressive and combative with the violent sweetness of the Florentine Madonnas.

The actress who launched you as an artist?
Barbara Nativi, at the Teatro della Limonaia, in Sesto Fiorentino.

The actor?
Paolo Poli, a wonderful, elegant, ironic, and intelligent person. I met him on the train, and I could barely speak. My tongue was completely tied. I wrote a dedication on the Ginzburg book I was reading, Ti ho sposato per allegria. I added my phone number and gave it to him.

A place in Florence that you love?
Piazza della Vittoria, where my high school was - and is. The Dante Alighieri High School that caused me so much pain and suffering! I would take the bus from Campi, then have hours of philosophy, Greek, and history, I came home and ate alone. Actually, it was the best time of my life.

Other places?
The Cascine in the summer. They held concerts there that made me feel like I was at Woodstock. The smell of freedom. And Procacci, where they make the truffle sandwiches. A poetic and wonderful place. Piazza Brunelleschi, the university where I studied Latin Paleography and Romantic Philology. I wanted to graduate in Philology, Linguistics, Codicology...

Night spots?
Not very many. I didn’t go to the disco, I went right home or would go with thirty people to the pub.

The Pergola. The most beautiful theater in the world. Thanks to Roberto Toni, the theatrical producer, I also had the chance to act on that stage. And now that I have a couple of projects with him, I have the chance to go back and experience the ancient and absolutely modern atmosphere of that theater.

Plans for the near future?
Three TV projects about to air: Non dirlo al mio capo by Giulio Manfredonia on Raiuno, Matrimoni e altri disastri on Canale 5, where I’m a romantic astronomer, and Piccoli segreti e grandi bugie on Raiuno, where I play a journalist in a sentimental and comic story. Then in a movie, On Air, storia di un successo with Giancarlo Giannini, which comes out in March. There I play a mother, shown from the 1970s up to today, in a transformation that spans 40 years.

How much time do you spend on social networks?
A lot, because I like to exchange views with followers and people who follow me on Facebook. There are thousands of them, and I answer them all by myself. I have no social media manager. 

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