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Francis Ford Coppola: Pater Familias

The Legendary Director Shares Family Lore at His Palazzo Margherita Hideaway

Coppola history comes to life in this candid portrait of Francis Ford by Alison Chernick, filmed at the Hollywood don's newest hotel, Palazzo Margherita, while he was vacationing with his aunt Almerinda and his 95-year-old uncle Anton. Tucked in the arch of Italy’s boot, the majestic boutique property is situated in the quiet hilltop town of Bernalda, or as the Coppolas call it, “Bernaldabella”, which has held mythic intrigue for the celebrated director since his grandfather Agostino left the region for New York in 1904. The auteur behind the The Godfather trilogy, Apocalypse Now and The Rainmaker, first made a pilgrimage to the Southern Italian spot at the age of 22, where he was welcomed by family members who were still residing there. He began to return regularly and, having already expanded his directorial vision to include a vineyard in the Napa Valley and several retreats in Central and South America, in 2005 he bought the virtually untouched 1892 Palazzo Margherita from a surviving descendant of the man who built it. Keeping the close-knit Coppola clan at the heart of the project, his cineaste children Sofia and Roman collaborated on personalized interiors for several of the building’s nine suites with French interior designer Jacques Grange, whose clients have included Yves Saint Laurent and Princess Caroline of Monaco. The Palazzo boasts several bars as well as a lush courtyard and garden, and the only swimming pool in Bernalda—built in time for Sofia’s wedding to Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars last August. The patriarch’s own headquarters features a Moorish ceiling design, honoring the heritage of his Tunisian-born Grandmother, Maria Zasa. Guests may find themselves sitting next to Francis himself at the shared dining table, savoring regional cuisine such as lamb prepared with chicory, tomatoes and cheese, and Lampascioni fritti (a local variety of baby onion, deeply fried), before retiring to the salon to curl up with a Coppola-curated library of Italian films.

Visit our Facebook page to view behind-the-scenes images from this shoot, alongside a recipe for pasta e fagioli, straight from the Palazzo Margherita's kitchen.

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  • Today's Extra
    Today's Extra

    Coppola's Personal Cinema Selection

    The Films Francis Ford Watches When He Isn't Directing Them

    The acclaimed director picks his favorites from the film library he shares with guests at his Palazzo Margherita hotel, a personal selection of 120 classics—from De Sica's Bicycle Thieves to Luca Guadagnino's I Am Love—that will suit many silver screen moods and any Italophile.

    Your hotel was a family effort. What family portrayals in film do you most identify with?

    Rocco and His Brothers.


    Is there a particular film you watch regularly or ritually, such as at the holidays with family?

    The Thief Of Bagdad, La Dolce Vita and 8 ½.


    What food moment in cinema do you find most memorable?

    When they make the timbale in The Big Night.

    Which film provides the most stunning interior or architectural experience?

    Visconti's Il Gattopardo

    Many of the films in your collection are by Italian filmmakers. Which best distills what you love about Italy?

    We're talking about the great films of our time, so it's a hard question. First, Rossellini’s Viaggio In Italia, then Fellini's I Vitelloni, then any of a few comedies—for me, Sedotto e Abbandonato

    Visit our Facebook page to view Francis Ford Coppola's entire film library.

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    Marrakech Film Festival

    Part One: Marion Cotillard, Michael Pitt and Eva Mendes Captured in the Red City

    To mark the tenth year of the International Film Festival of Marrakech, Moroccan royal and cinephile King Mohammed VI flew in a clutch of Hollywood players. Filmmakers Roberto de Paolis and Carlo Lavagna were there to capture the guest list in a film shot exclusively for NOWNESS. Highlights from the experience: lunch with actor Gaspard Ulliel (“He hadn’t slept the night before because he was partying til 8am with the French delegation,” says De Paolis); a carpet-buying tour of Marrakech’s souks with model Jamie Bochert and Boardwalk Empire actor Michael Pitt; and an audience with Harvey Keitel, who was last in Morocco in 1987 when filming Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ. While festival jury head John Malkovich kept the assembled entertained with philosophical digressions and wine, it was the city itself that proved most enchanting, particularly the sunset screenings held in the ancient market square of Djemaa el Fna. “You could stand and watch these movies amongst the snake charmers, storytellers, monkeys and street musicians,” De Paolis reminisces. “It was an amazing atmosphere.” See the pair's extended filmed interview with godfather of cinema Francis Ford Coppola, here

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