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Rino Barillari: The King of Paparazzi

His lens has captured the raw emotions and untold stories that lurked in the shadows of the Golden Era. From the Beetles to the Popes, Rino Barillari's camera acts as a silent observer of a changing Italy. In this exclusive interview, the photographer Fellini called “The King of Paparazzi” shares memories of Fellini, La Dolce Vita, and the genesis of Paparazzo.


BY GIOVANNA G. BONOMO

Photography RINO BARILLARI

June, 2024


photo portrait of Rino Barillari with his camera

We are at the iconic Harry’s Bar on Via Veneto, steeped in the echoes of the Dolce Vita era’s scandalous tales and meteoric rise of unknowns to silver screen stardom. A symbol of the glamorous 1960s, where Frank Sinatra’s melodies filled the air and renowned actresses graced its premises.


It was an era when the stunning Anita Ekberg would leisurely enjoy an aperitif with friends following a spree on Via Frattina. Rino Barillari “The King of Paparazzi,” greets us alongside Piero Lepore, the visionary owner of this historic establishment who is responsible for safeguarding the timeless allure of this iconic thoroughfare.


Barillari’s phone buzzes incessantly, within minutes he has already run out to capture not one, but three celebrities, a  reminder of his enduring connection to the world he once illuminated with his lens still today.


To avoid further interruption Piero suggests we take the interview inside. Inside these walls, passionate romances blossomed, and clandestine agreements were forged, immortalizing an atmosphere of unparalleled allure and beauty.


The photographic masterpieces of Barillari, are on display: A selection of  Barillari's cameras, trophies, and dolce vita memorabilia. Now, amidst the ambiance of vintage glamour, microphones hooked - up, phones silenced and espresso in hand, the stage is set for this Italian Excellence to tell the untold chapters of a bygone era, through a lens that continues to intrigue audiences worldwide.


La Dolce Vita in Rome
A sneak peek of the full gallery featured in 'La Dolce Vita Issue'

Rino (Saverio) Barillari, is a living chronicle of tales, a vessel overflowing with Italian history that traces back to his roots in Limbadi, in the province of Vibo Valentia. His formative years were steeped in the enchanting ambiance of his uncle's movie theatre, where he first glimpsed the magic of cinema that would shape his destiny. At only 14 years old, he embarks on a new life to the bustling streets of Rome in pursuit of sustenance and opportunity.


Driven not by mere passion but by an unyielding need for survival, Rino recounts, "I didn’t have my own bed, I didn’t have coffee made for me. I didn’t have food. I was hungry in every way and needed to find a way to survive." Thus began his foray into the realm of photography, starting from humble beginnings as an assistant to the "scattini" capturing moments at the iconic Trevi Fountain.


Equipped with a Comet Bencini bought with his hard-earned coins in an era where owning a camera was a luxury, Rino swiftly became a pivotal link between tourists and their cherished memories. Reflecting on those times, he recalls, "At the time, hardly anyone had a camera; so, if tourists wanted a souvenir in front of a monument, they had to turn to those who were there specifically to take 'souvenir photos.' But to capture those moments, one had to clear the area of other people (or else, what kind of photo would it be, surrounded by strangers?) and then, after development, the photos had to be 'put in an envelope' and delivered to the hotel where the tourists were staying."

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Unlock the full experience now! Purchase your digital magazine to continue reading this article and enjoy exclusive access to Rino Barillari’s stunning Dolce Vita photos.


 


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