The inventor of Cinema: from Florence to Cinecittà

No one would doubt, who invented cinema? The Lumière Brothers!

But when it comes to inventions, let’s rummage in the heart of Florence… and, in this case, a name and a surname will emerge: Filoteo Alberini.

A great lover of photography, thanks to his apprenticeship with an itinerant photographer, Filoteo, after his military service, was hired in the phototechnical department of the Military Geographical Institute of Florence.

In 1894, passing under the arcades of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele (now Piazza della Repubblica), he saw a black box displayed in a shop window: the Edison kinetoscope. He had heard of it and, intrigued, entered the shop to understand how it worked: by turning a handle, moving images could be seen inside the box.

He bought it and worked on it day and night, removing and adding mechanisms, arriving at a very different machine, another invention.

He couldn’t know it, but the same thing was also being attempted in Paris and in Germany.

But Filoteo Alberini arrived first of all.

Within two months he managed to invent his “kinetograph“, a machine that could take images but also project them onto a screen.

He had invented the cinematograph and no one had noticed.

All this happened a year before the invention of the Lumière brothers.

But something went wrong: due to a bureaucratic hitch, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce only issued the patent to Filoteo Alberini at the end of December 1895…

On December 28, 1895, the first screening of a film with a paying audience was made at the Grand Cafè in Paris.

Filoteo Alberini did not give up and opened the first cinema in the world, the Sala Edison in Florence which he then replicated in Rome with the Moderno in Piazza Esedra.

But, above all, it marked the beginning of the history of Italian cinema: in 1905, with the making of the first feature film, “La presa di Roma” to make which he opened the first Italian production house, Alberini & Santoni, which after various restructurings, will become Cinecittà.