Robert De Niro’s Voice Has Died

Italians love their dogs. Strolling the polished limestone streets, marveling at the gorgeous buildings and people all around, you have to watch your step. Walking with my friend in Siena, I barely missed a dog mess. In a disgusted voice, my Sienese friend said, “Those Florentines are everywhere these days.”

National, regional, and civic pride has brought war and suffering for centuries. Today in Europe it survives, but only brings off-color jokes and fills soccer stadiums.

National pride can be abused. Of course, when a nation has a Hitler or a Mussolini, flag-waving spikes…and then takes a serious dive. (Actually, if flag-waving spikes in any country, wise citizens with an appreciation of history and an ability to see beyond their borders know to be concerned.) Understandably, in post-WWII Europe, Italians and Germans did less patriotic singing and flag-waving than their neighbors.

On a related note, post-WWII Italy had the strongest communist party in Western Europe. Locals tell me they were not really leftists as much as anti-rightists (after the catastrophic fascism of Il Duce). The result: a generation of bad entrepreneurs. Today, in Italy’s business world, I see the “generation next” filled with entrepreneurial creativity and energy. On this trip, I find Italy thriving with creative small businesses driven by new young management as never before. (The banks and government support this with fewer restrictions and easier and longer business loans — 30 years rather than 5 or 10, as in past years.)

You can draw some fun conclusions from movie-translating practices in different nations. Italians are notorious for dubbing just about all foreign movies, while the French are inclined to read subtitles when they watch a “foreign” (i.e., American) movie. Some say the French are more into the subtleties and art of the movie, while the Italians are just lazy and don’t want to read. Others say Italian dubbing itself is an art form. It’s true that the Italians actually have famous dubbers who lip synch so artfully you think Robert De Niro is actually speaking Italian. In fact, Robert De Niro insisted on the same Italian voice for his parts. He actually traveled to Italy to meet with and coach Amendola, the man with his Italian voice. And now, the big news in the Italian movie world is that the king of dubbing voices, Amendola (the voice of Dustin Hoffman, Sylvester Stallone, and Roberto De Niro), has passed away.

Enjoying the wonders of Italy this month, the movie star that comes to mind for me is Roberto Benigni. Like Benigni, I need no Amendola to declare (as I seem to do several times a day), “Life is good”–La vita è bella.


10 Replies to “Robert De Niro’s Voice Has Died”

  1. We just came back from a weeks stay in paris, and had the same problem with all the “land mines”. It seems such a contradiction these people are so well put together with their dress and discrete manner yet have no problem letting their dogs mess the sidewalk and owner’s not tending to it. But I still love paris for all it’s contradictions.I plan on visiting italy soon, thankyou for your interesting blogs of your travels, very insightful and engages me to buy my ticket and pack my carry on.

  2. The Germans’ lack of “patriotism” lasted much longer than just the immediate postwar years. Even today, I sense a genuine remorsefulness among Germans, whose grandparents once embraced Hitler. They’re still very cautious not to seem too boastful about their nation. In fact, when Germany hosted the World Cup last summer, there was a TV ad campaign featuring many prominent and famous Germans saying, “Du bist Deutschland”–You are Germany. The point was to try to make Germans feel OK again after all these decades to be proud of their country and wave their flag…for their soccer team, of course.

  3. As someone who really enjoys writing emails to my family and friends back home, and dreams of becoming a travel writer “when I grow up” (I’m well over 50!), I am really enjoying your blog!

    My husband and I have been huge fans of yours since before we made our first trip to Italy in 2001 for our 30th anniversary. You have my dream life, and it warms my heart to read your entries, because I can tell you are still loving what you do!

    I have always thought you were a good writer, but this blog is showing me a new side of you — even more creative and fun than I had imagined before! Keep up the good work. You are a true inspiration!

  4. Rick, Great Blog!
    Regarding the dubbing: We took our kids to a cartoon movie here in Vienna. The German who normally dubs Julia Roberts into German did one of the cartoon characters. Our Austrian friend said “Listen! Julia Roberts did the voice of so-and-so!” It was kinda funny.
    Dog poop: I’ve heard it said that the Viennese don’t pick up after their dogs because they pay a high dog tax and therefore expect the city to clean it up. (don’t know if that’s true.) The city is launching a campaign to clean up after your dog, but it is a subject of that wonderfully cynical brand of Viennese humor.
    Keeo up the good work & happy travels!

  5. Rick,
    I just discovered your blog and I have really enjoyed “looking over your shoulder” at the Italian springtime!

    When I graduated from college a buddy and I made the trip to Europe with only two bikes, a tent and an open-ended roundtrip standby airline ticket.

    Back then one had to guard the ticket and passport like gold!

    We spent 4 months cycling from London to Greece and back, camping out the entire time. We were always amazed that locals would be happy to have two crazy kids from California camp on their lawn. We created countless friendships that continue to this day.

    Here’s to you and your crew, I hope you have a great season.

  6. Rick, I read all of your blogs yesterday and it is wonderful following you throughout Europe. I love you and you are in my prayers. Love, Mom

    Hi son, sure missing you and those phone calls. Can hardly wait for you to get back. Your blogs are great and all is well here….keep in touch, Love Dad

  7. So nice to hear from Rick Steves’ Mom and Dad!
    Rick’s Dad, so you are the piano importer!
    I’m a big fan of the Bosendorfer! I like the Bechstein too.
    I’m going to Berlin this fall to hear the Berlin Philharmonic! Fullfilling a dream.
    Your son is amazing! So nice to turn to him and his staff for advice.
    And Rick, Your blog is so much fun to read. You are such a gifted writer.
    Lisa P.

  8. Just did some house cleaning, and found a bunch of your pre-website, hard-copy quarterly newsletters. The oldest I had was 1990 when you did nine Europe tours, and were trying some ‘special’ tours…two Britain, two Turkey, and one Scandinavia. Guess that worked out OK for you! I’m on my seventh tour with ETBD next September (Best of Adriatic) and they’ve all been great. It is interesting to read about the travel situation then, especially with eastern Europe just opening up, and before the war in Yugoslavia.

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