The fantasy of Cinepanettone and Fantaghirò


Apart from the usual annual preparations for Christmas like the tediousness of gift buying, yuletide menu planning and gift wrapping there is the tradition of the Christmas movie.

Everyone has their favorite whether it be a black and white Jimmy Stewart classic, a kitsch Father Christmas tale, the Grinch that stole Christmas or endless tired rehashed versions of Dickens’ Christmas Carol.

Italian’s love going to the Cinema at this time of year. There is a specific term that describes the popular slapstick, feel good comedy that comes out this time of the year. For many years the comic duo of Christian De Sica and Massimo Boldi made terrible Cine-panettone movies dedicated to bad taste and easy laughs that are so popular in the Italian market! It is literally trashy Cinema to be consumed with your panettone Christmas cake.


Even if De Sica and Boldi have gone their own separate comic ways, this year we have Di Sica’s Colpi di fortuna (Lucky strike)which promises to be the usual awful bad taste humor playing on the idea of bad luck and the Italians desire to avoid it.

On the television instead we have been blessed with reruns of the Italian fantasy cult classic of Fantaghirò, which is in another league completely to Christmas time cinema.

Based on one of Italo Calvino’s Italian folklore tales, the saga tells of the youngest tomboyish,cross dressing daughter of a warmonger King who goes into battle to bring peace to her war ravaged kingdom. Over the five different series through a mixture of encounters with magical creatures, witches, dragons, knights duals and love at first sight Princess Fantaghiro’ goes through an epic journey that would make any Renaissance poet tremble at his knees!


Starring Alessandra Martines, Kim Rossi Stuart and Brigitte Nielsen the early nineties series has enjoyed wide spread popularity and has been dubbed into thirteen different languages. The Fantaghiro’ saga has become a classic of Italian t.v and is openly welcomed with festive affection into Italian’s living room at this time of year.


My young son loves the mixture of magic, sword battle and bewitching creatures Fantaghiro’ encounters and is transfixed before the slightly stilted puppetry based special effects. As Christmas movies go I’m glad there are no references to gifts, Father Christmas or any of the toilet humor of Cinepanettoni.

I don’t mind the fantasy of Fantaghiro’ as it seems apt to the spirit of the festive season.






Click on the links for a definition of this genre (in Italian), an english critic’s point of view and more details on Fantaghiro.

(Images from Google images)