Journey to Italy - A Restored Neo Realism Film Masterpiece

Ingrid Bergman is a smouldering emotional volcano, just like Vesuvius, in the film Journey to Italy, a black and white neo-realism masterpiece of Italian cinema from 1957 directed by Roberto Rossellini, Bergman's husband. Move over Casablanca, this is the restored Bergman film set in fifties Naples, Pompeii and Capri you have to see. Watch on the BFI Player now. The film is a tour de force for its intimacy, modernism and covetable on-the-road style. It is also a historical treasure trove of fifties Italian culture, archaeology and priceless Roman antiquities mixed with artisan couture fashion inspiration and a Bentley this editor wants to steal!

A Marriage Falls Apart Amid the Ruins of Pompeii

Ingrid Bergman plays the discontented wife of an inscrutable wealthy English businessman portrayed with maddening, stiff upper British steel and detachment by George Sanders. In Journey to Italy, it is the extraordinary, fly-on-the-wall intimacy, restless desire, jealousy and black comic moments laced with Catholicism that make this fifties Italian jewel of a film so fresh and so compelling, as we watch the dynamics of a marriage unravel.

Journey to Italy is like a holy relic of film that is an important document of Italy after WW2 looking back to the glories of ancient Rome.

Fifties Glamour, Culture and Documentary Realism

Ingrid Bergman's fifties couture wardrobe and the authentic locations in Naples, Capri and Pompeii cast a spell of fifties opulence, historical record, allure and sophistication which I have requisitioned for your delight!

Let's go!

The Dior New Look Silhouette that is Eternal. Copyright Picture Courtesy of the Dior Press Office.

Are you ready to run away to Italy right now and pack your bags?

Let me show you how to dress like Ingrid Bergman, after a little more about this black-and-white classic film that will delight film buffs, lovers of Italy, archaeology and anyone fascinated by the birth of neo-realism in film. You can watch Journey to Italy on the BFI website or buy a DVD copy of the film here and watch it again and again and luxuriate in the battle between Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders.

The Plot of Journey to Italy

Here's the plot. In an attempt to get her closed-off husband to love her, Bergman throws tantrums, frets, curses and storms off in the sublime Bentley whilst managing to look adorable in an animal print jacket, ladylike tweed or black brocade to look at Roman emperors, volcanic springs and relics. She yearns for Alec to ditch that stiff upper lip facade, stop obsessing about work and go wild in Italy for her.

Alas, she only makes things worse. Nothing is going to get her bored workaholic husband to a museum and nagging him to death is a disaster. As a form of savage revenge, Alec declares he is going off in search of his own 'fun' in Capri and to flirt and chase other women.

George Sanders and Ingrid Bergman in Journey to Italy Directed by Roberto Rossellini

Getting to that point of revelation and forgiveness provides the tension and the last-ditch sudden miracle to save their marriage and it will take you the viewer on a clever, intense, original and thoroughly captivating journey. Roberto Rossellini's cinematic love letter to his wife is extraordinarily intimate and explores internal feelings which were very daring for the fifties.

The Romance of Slow Travel

The film also offers a marvellous dash of escapism and captures the romance of slow travel, sublime slow fifties fashion, Italian food, design, Catholicism and culture.

Of course, Bergman looks like a goddess even in a buttoned-up polo neck sweater and sensible brogues looking at a naked statue of Hercules. The film will make you long to plan your slow Journey to Italy and emulate Ingrid Bergman's road trip wardrobe from form-fitting lace dresses to tailored ladylike tweeds and form-fitting suits. She looks like an off-duty movie star and you can emulate her vintage fifties couture style with my slow fashion editor's tips for a slow Italian odyssey this Spring.

Ingrid is dressed for the film by Italian couturier Fernando Gattioli, a favourite of the star on and off the screen. Gattioli trained with the celebrated house of Mollyneaux in London and turned down a job with Chanel to return to Italy and set up her own atelier. Her ideas for timeless slow fashion in the 21st century with a dash of old Hollywood precision and allure remain powerful and timeless. It's all about elegance, tailoring, refinement, natural fibres and leaving something to be uncovered and I am not just talking about the archaeological finds! Bellissimo!

The Timeless Allure of Golden Age Film

Couture is all about exquisite, understated details and fabrics, the art of concealment and enhancing the shape of the body in a way that is never too much. Lovers of slow, artisan fashion and the classic films of Hollywood's Golden Age can pick up so many ideas about how to dress well by studying the classic films of the Golden Age and ditch trends in favour of timeless pieces that fascinate, impart confidence and never date.

How to Dress Like Ingrid Bergman

To dress like Ingrid Bergman now, take a look at Gucci, Celine and Emilia Wickstead and carefully vetted preloved sites such as First Dibs Rokit and Oxfam Online for perfectly formed designer and couture fashion using exquisite natural fibres including wool, silk, cotton and leather fashioned into ladylike tailored skirts, coats, jackets and investment knitwear fashioned to last for decades and be timeless.

Reader, I used to pine over Bergman's fabulous elongated, dazzling white dress and jacket and that huge brooch she wears to Rick's Bar in Casablanca. Elsa has to be the chicest political wife on the run.

Dior New Look Dress

Now, I might just defect and declare that her wardrobe of little black couture dresses, car coats, tailored blouses, midi skirts and hourglass jackets in Journey to Italy is absolute, buttoned-up, tailored slow fashion perfection, even in the heat. I am lusting over her razor-peplum jacket, ladylike tweed separates and black lace evening gown, which mirrors Dior's New Look. At five foot nine, Ingrid Bergman looks like a gazelle among all those crazy and debauched Roman emperors in the Naples Museum and when she is taking in the ancient wonders of Pompeii and Naples. What a wonder and inspiration she is as one of the greatest actresses of the Golden Age and as a woman and forever Golden Age style icon to emulate.

How to Dress Like Ingrid Bergman

Recreate the Look

Journey to Italy Slow Fashion Adress Book

Dior - Ingrid Bergman wears a black 'new look' fifties lace dress to the house party in Naples. The only place to invest in the New Look is Dior and they have some timeless examples for the new season in plain black, polka dots and an intense hot red -just the thing under an Italian sun.

Cashmere Essentials - On her trips to the museum and the ruins at Pompeii, Ingrid wears elegant, tailored midi skirts paired with a timeless suede car coat, cashmere sweaters, chic brogues and a distinctive oversized bucket bag. N Peal and Johnstons of Elgin are the best iconic, artisan fashion houses for the finest slow and organic cashmere. I also like Chinti and Parker for the wonderful quality of their sustainable cashmere with a dash of wit and playfulness.

Bucket Bag - Ingrid carries several very distinctive bags including a large bucket bag at Pompeii. Carel Paris has a gorgeous bucket bag in tan with its distinctive logo in bold letters and JM Davidson have the definitive collection of leather bucket bags to delight the connoisseur in myriad shapes and colours.

Shoes - Church's handcrafted brogues would be perfect for Ingrid then and now.

Brooches - Look out for preloved antique brooches in auctions, from antique jewellery companies and charity shops especially Oxfam online.

Slow Travel to Italy - Here is my editor's note book on slow travel to Italy. Take the train to Italy and Sicily with Byway Travel - the slow travel company that specialises in flightless, slow travel. Palazzo Tronconi is a delightful small boutique hotel with an biodynamic vineyard situated in the Ciociaria district of Italy, the secret land of shepherds and small organic farms. There is a spa and the hotel offers wonderful pasta making courses for slow foodies. This would be an ideal base to visit Naples and Pompeii. Alistair Sawday offers homestays at small organic farms situated far from the madding crowd so you can relax, savour authentic, delicious slow food and organic wine and support regenerative farming. I stumbled across author, historian and guide Christina Gregorin and I would love to take one of her guided tours of Venice. Christina offers slow tours of the real Venice. She has a passion for the talented artisans of the Serenissima. Christina has a doctorate in history and languages. Find out more via her website at Slow Venice.

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Copyright Alison Jane Reid/The Luminaries Magazine April 2024.. All Rights Reserved. No copying or reuse in any format whatsoever.

All Pictures from Journey to Italy are Strictly For Editorial Review Use only and they are Copyright.

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About the Journalist - Alison Jane Reid

About the Journalist and Editor of The Luminaries Magazine

Alison Jane Reid is a Scottish/English feature writer, editor and slow luxury tastemaker. Her iconic career in British national newspapers spans three decades. AJ worked as a lead feature writer specialising in cultural icons at The Times Magazine for a decade. AJ trained at Mirror Group Newspapers and went on to work as a contributing editor at The Lady and You Magazine. Her iconic interviews and features have also been published in Country Life, The Independent, ES, The Evening Standard, Coast and Harpers Wine and Spirits Magazine.

Alison Jane has also appeared in broadcast journalism for - ITV, Channel 5, V&A Fashion Documentary and our television channel. In 2023, she took part in a documentary for Channel 5 about cultural icon Harry Styles.