“Lo Hobbit” (or “going to the movies in Italy”)

Ciao Readers!

Today I am going to give you a peak into the local theater here in Florence – the Odeon.  While not entirely dissimilar, going to the movies in Italy is a bit different than going to the movies in the States.  First off, the theater here is located in a palace that was built in 1462 (Palazzo Strozzino) – a far cry from a theater in a shopping mall, to say the least!  The inside of the palace was renovated into a theater in 1922 and decked out in the art nouveau style.  (My pics weren’t coming out good inside, so the nice photo is taken from their website).  You can take a virtual tour of the Odeon here (if you do, check out the ceiling).

On Mondays, Tuesdays and (some) Thursdays, the Odeon has its “Original Sound” program, where the films are shown in their original language (whatever that may be), with Italian subtitles.   A few weeks ago The Hobbit was here for only a couple of days, so we went to the movies on a Monday night (we are such party animals here!).  Well, there was one big difference we noticed immediately (after noticing the amazing building we were in) – no fresh popcorn!  I have to admit, my heart sank a bit as a bucket of movie-theater popcorn is an indulgence I learned from Steve, and one to which I have grown accustomed.  We settled for a bag of popcorn from the snack counter (pictured).  On the other hand, had we wanted (we did not) a lovely glass of red wine to bring into the theater, that of course was available.

Another interesting thing was the not quite complete “originality” of the language.  For those of you who have not seen it, in The Hobbit both Elvish and Orkish (is that a word?) are spoken.  Since most of us don’t speak those made-up languages, subtitles are provided.  However, as with the rest of the movie, those subtitles were also in Italian, not English (as the subtitles are in the original movie), requiring me to do my best to translate out-loud for Steve (not that Orks have anything very intelligent to say).  I thought it was an interesting glitch in the “original sound” idea.

One very cool thing about this movie-going experience was that the movie started right away at the time scheduled – no previews and no ads (yay!).  (I actually have no idea if this is because it was in English and all the ads/previews would be in Italian, or this is the way all movies here are – if anyone knows, please post a comment).  Other than that, the movie-going experience was fairly similar.  The prices were about the same (a far cry from the 36,000 yen we unwittingly paid in Japan to see a second-run matinee!), and it was seat-yourself (also unlike Japan where you get assigned seats).  The only other surprise was that, unlike the 2 other movies we had seen in other theaters in Italy, there was no intermission.  We enjoyed the movie and were treated to a caught-just-in-time bus-ride back home.  Thanks for coming along!


Leave a comment


  1. Hey, but we get beer and umbrella holders over here! I just saw Les Mis. I like the assigned seats, its civil.

  2. What a posh cinema! You’re right, that ceiling is something special.


  3. Lisa

     /  January 22, 2013

    I was especially interested in this post as I am seeing the Hobbit here in Monza next Monday. “Original language” films are shown in the Milan area only on Mondays and I attend pretty regularly regardless of what is showing. My;local theater looks nothing like your gorgeous one! However, we do have freshly popped popcorn (sometimes) and a bottle of water only costs 1 euro. My theater always shows previews and commercials in Italian first and there is always an intermission (which catches me off-guard each time!)

  4. Thanks for this glimpse into my favourite theater in Florence! Che ricordi… There are also some smaller ones where you can watch “studio films”, i.e. not mainstream movies. I think the most interesting thing in Italy is, that there are many different kinds of theaters and, as you already found out, special days where you can watch the film in the original language. – I’m looking forward to your next post! Buona giornata e a presto 😉

  5. I really enjoyed this post–the bits about wine being available, but not fresh popcorn, and the “original sound” Orkish were particularly great. For a point of comparison, here in Iceland, almost all theaters (a big exception being the art cinema) have intermissions, which happen really suddenly, sometimes cutting off in the middle of a very tense scene (a shipwreck, for instance, or a plane exploding). The first time I was in a theater here was for an Icelandic movie which was screening with English subtitles, so the only other people in the theater were foreigners. Everyone was confused. A man went out and asked the theater attendant what had happened and then came back, only somewhat more sure of the situation, saying: “They are doing this for us? They say that we should go get refreshments?”

  6. Ako

     /  January 22, 2013

    The theater is “vanima” (elvish for beautiful, yes I am a LOTR nerd). 🙂 But no fresh-popped popcorn! The theater we frequent has a food/drink menu with waiter service. Additional plus, no kids 17 & under w/out an adult!

  7. I guess maybe even in Florence there are some differences in the theaters. We saw most of our films at the Fulgor and I’m pretty sure they have fresh popcorn there (we never bought it but KC remembers the smell), and they assign seats because if it was a nice cashier she would turn her screen around to ask me where I wanted to sit or else they just assigned it for us (but I don’t think anyone pays attention and sits where they want).

    We had the same language issue seeing the Life of Pi in Istanbul a couple of weeks ago; some of the movie is in French so the Turkish subtitles weren’t too helpful. :o) (They assigned seats in Istanbul and the theater was fairly empty so KC and I took random seats within our assigned row. When the next people came they politely showed us their tickets and we were in their seats. So we moved to our own seats and the four of us sat scrunched together in our appointed seats… with nobody else in our row nor the rows in front/back of us!)

    Thanks for a fun post.

    • Wow – interesting – had no idea the other theater here was so diverse. Love your story about everyone sitting together – ha – good rule-followers! And, thanks – I now have had my very first blog visits from Botswana!

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