“Here I am, we’re done now.” Maria Grazia Cucinotta answers the phone after a long day on the set of ‘The perfect ingredient’, the program of La7 that this year sees her as the protagonist, and on the way from Lungotevere to Prati tells us about her Rome, the one that has seen arriving in 86 – just over eighteen to debut with Renzo Arbore in the historic transmission ‘Back All!’ – and adopted her, giving her “a second life”. Sicilian, from Messina, at first she was “intimidated” by this “huge city” and in order not to be alone, as soon as she finished working, she went to the shoe shop of Signora Maria Teresa, “a second mother”. Many suitors, “ah bona” the cult phrase, then the phone call from Giulio: “Are you free? I want to marry you”. And so it was. She has never moved from Prati and recently she has finally learned how to make cacio e pepe for her daughter (before she used to have “a caciotta con la pasta”), who when she listens to her with a Roman accent tells her “that you can feel it. “
“Friends yes. Those who know me know how much I love to cook. I like to spoil the people I love, it’s a way to pamper and pamper themselves. Many have rediscovered cooking during the lockdown, staying at home. We had almost forgotten how essential it is. Gathering at the table is a magical moment, beyond food you share something intimate “.
A sacred moment for Sicilians.
“For me it is fundamental. We all work now, but at least in the evening we have to leave work, mobile phones and all the problems that unfortunately we bring home with us. Sitting at the table and eating well is an act of love”.
How are you doing with Roman cuisine?
“Quite well. I had to learn for the love of my daughter who is crazy for cacio e pepe, amatriciana, carbonara. Gradually I specialized. The last one I learned was cacio e pepe, very difficult to Do”.
How many bankruptcy tests?
“Forget it. A Roman cook who works in a restaurant in Lisbon taught me. I was there a year ago, I told him I never could. Each time I was given a unique map of pasta and cheese. he makes a caciotta with pasta. He revealed the secrets to making a good cacio e pepe “.
And what are they?
“It always depends on the cheese, how seasoned it is. Nobody tells you. Anyway, in the end, after several attempts, my daughter finally eats the cheese and pepper at home.”
What about your favorite dish instead?
“But are we calling ourselves her or you?”.
“No look, let’s absolutely say you”.
So what’s your favorite dish?
“The carbonara. Even that seems easy to make but it’s not, you risk making a pasta omelette. Good all the same, eh, but it’s not quite the same thing”.
How many years have you lived in Rome?
“I arrived in 86 for Back All. From Sicily I had moved to Brescia from my brother, because I was working in Milan, then I did the audition and when they took me I moved immediately”.
Who dreams of cinema dreams of Rome, maybe thirty years ago even more …
“I did not have this dream at the time. For me the important thing was to work and television was already a lot. Not being able to model for my body, I did not aspire to that much. Acting was a distant dream”.
Where was the first house?
“In a residence in Prati, near the Rai. At first I was intimidated by this huge city. Imagine a girl who came from Messina, I was just over 18. But Rome welcomes you, it never makes you feel foreign. a short time I felt like I was adopted “.
Have you had any Roman guardian angels?
“A Back Tutto I made friends with Massimo Santoro, the son of Arnaldo Santoro, one of the authors. He was my age and 6 other brothers. I found myself in a family that hugged me. And then I was lucky enough to meet Maria Teresa , who became my second mother, with her two daughters, more or less my same age. They really adopted me, they were a point of reference and still are “.
How did you get to know them?
“They have a shoe shop in Ponte Milvio, I went there to buy shoes. Maria Teresa and I started talking, I told her that I had started this show and that I was alone. just come here and stay with us’. And so I did. I finished my work and went to them. For me it really became a family, I never felt alone. They welcomed me as a third daughter “.
In those years I imagine how many Romans will have courted you …
“Yes, but I was very afraid of the attention. I ran away. I missed a lot of home, what I was looking for was a family. I led a very quiet life. Then gradually I met other fantastic people who are still an integral part of my life. it gave the possibility of having another home, one made up of affection and friends who love you “.
The compliments on the street, however, you will remember them …
“‘Ah bonaaaa’ (laughs, ed). That was the cult phrase. Then ‘see this’, ‘where did you come out?'”.
Did you make your dreams come true in this city?
“I have made many dreams come true. From the first important broadcast to advertising and everything that came after. Rome has always brought me luck. It is a city that has given me a second life. And my husband too”.
How did you meet?
“Massimo Santoro introduced him to me, unfortunately he is gone today. Giulio was one of his best friends, we met at his house”.
Where did it take you on the first date?
“At Venerina’s, in Borgo Pio. The first time he called me he asked me: ‘Are you free today?’. I thought it was some job offer, instead he told me he wanted to marry me. After a month of phone calls he brought to this restaurant, where we still go often today. He introduced me to Venerina, the owner, saying that I was his girlfriend. But I would never get engaged to him, we had already had a fight. Venerina told me she had known him since he was small and he was a good boy. ‘You can trust me’ he told me. “
And he was right …
“In the end he really married me. Every time I go back to Venerina’s, we laugh remembering that evening.”
Where did you get married?
“In San Gemini. He has a family home and by tradition all the brothers got married there. For the 25 years of marriage, however, we remarried in Rome”.
What neighborhood do you live in?
“Still in Prati, I’ve never moved. It’s a beautiful area. And if the Pope has chosen it, you can be sure it’s a great area. I walk around, I have my routine: breakfast at Cantiani’s, baked Lintozzi to get bread, shopping at the Mercato dell’Unità. Then there is Il Sorpasso, the restaurant downstairs where I always like to go down “.
No car then?
“I don’t drive, I never got a license. I left Sicily very early, I always said ‘I’ll take it tomorrow’, I am 53 years old and I still go on foot. But this is a gift in Rome, because I have the opportunity to see every corner, which you would never do in the car. I’m a great walker, I like to stop and observe. I photograph everything and my phone is full “.
Do you feel Roman after more than thirty years?
“I feel Roman because my second life is Roman, but I am always Sicilian. Even though sometimes I find myself speaking with a Roman accent and my daughter says you can’t hear me. Let’s say that Rome is the perfect compromise afterwards. having left a land like Sicily. It’s hard to find a place in the world that makes you say ‘wow’ if you come from Sicily and live in Rome “.
The place of the heart?
“I love looking at St. Peter’s from the bridge of Castel Sant’Angelo. Standing on that bridge, surrounded by those angels, and looking at this mysterious castle. And thinking ‘do you realize how many beautiful things these places have seen?’. But Rome is all wonderful. , there are a lot of corners, museums, churches. You never get tired. You would have to live a hundred times to visit it all and see all the art there is. We are spoiled. “
“Rome spoils you because if you live here, any city in the world, even beautiful, no longer amazes you”.
As an actress, what do you think is the best film set in Rome?
“All of them. There isn’t one.”
As a producer, on the other hand, what film would you make here?
“Rome can be everything: a mystery, a thriller, a love film, a comedy. It has many of those possibilities. The Da Vinci Code has become a masterpiece because it was shot here, as well as other international films”.
What title would you give to yours?
“The infinite world. For me Rome is this: the infinite world of art, culture, everything”.