Summer diaries on the Sorrento coast

Diari estivi sulla costa sorrentinaProtagonistiIl fondo

The images, mainly printed on 9.5mm Pathé Baby film, bear witness to the summers, spent on the Sorrento coast, of an upper middle-class Neapolitan family and their friends. Between strolls in the city centre, jokes on the beach and trips to the surrounding villages, Salvatore Cilento gives a cross-section of the Campania bourgeoisie throughout the 1930s.
Between strolls in the city centre, jokes on the beach and trips to the surrounding villages, Salvatore Cilento offers a glimpse of the Campania bourgeoisie in the 1930s.
The user can explore the film collection through a wide selection of sequences shot by Salvatore Cilento. Digitised film materials can be viewed in chronological order or via the menu. Short texts, inserted in titles, captions or superimposed on images, introduce, contextualise and give precise indications about people, places and situations. The information was gathered through careful research, documentation and cataloguing. Le informazioni sono state raccolte attraverso un’attenta ricerca, documentazione e catalogazione.
(text edited by Chiara Petrucci)

Salvatore Cilento was born in Naples on 24 October 1897 into a wealthy family from Vico Equense. In fact, his father Domenico was the owner of an iron-working factory in Secondigliano, a town in which he also held the position of municipal councillor over the years. The Cilento family, although permanently resident in Naples, nevertheless kept the family home in Seiano di Vico Equense, on the Sorrento coast, where Salvatore spent his summers in the company of his father Domenico, mother Maria Amendola, sisters Maria (born 1885) and Clara (born 1902), friend and brother-in-law Guglielmo Ceccarelli and numerous friends. He enlisted as a volunteer in the Regia Marina at the end of World War I. During these years, he met Guglielmo Ceccarelli from Rimini, who immediately became his friend and later married his sister Maria Cilento. Passionate about various sports, in 1922 Salvatore won the middleweight title at the University Olympics in Rome. In the same year, he graduated in Electromechanics at the Polytechnic of Naples. He does not, however, practise his profession, enjoying the income from the family factory, devoting himself to his passions. In addition to sport, which he practised from a very young age, Salvatore Cilento had also devoted himself assiduously to photography since the 1920s. In addition to the many photographs he has produced, Salvatore also collects numerous plates produced by the Richard company depicting exotic and faraway places. In 1930, he finally bought his first camera, a Pathé Baby, with which he began to immortalise his leisure activities, summers at the seaside in Seiano, outings with friends and his niece Vera Ceccarelli, daughter of his friend Guglielmo and Salvatore’s sister, Maria Cilento.

The Salvatore Cilento film collection was donated to the National Family Film Archive in 2010 by Vera Ceccarelli, the filmmaker’s granddaughter. The films, kept until that date in Vera Ceccarelli’s home in Naples and in the Cilento family’s summer residence in Seiano di Vico Equense, are in 9.5mm Pathé Baby and 16mm format. After its acquisition by the Archive, the film material was subjected to a thorough conservation restoration and transferred onto digital media. The reorganisation was carried out in collaboration with Vera Ceccarelli and her husband Salvatore Mennillo, but also thanks to the testimony of Elsa Verde Starace, daughter of Teresa Verde, a family friend of the Cilento family. All interviews were conducted during a series of meetings in 2013.

The film stock consists of 11 films of different lengths, 10 of them in 9.5mm Pathé Baby format and one in 16mm format. One of the 9.5mm films was defective and was therefore not digitised. All the films were shot by Salvatore Cilento during the 1930s, with a total running time of one hour and 50 minutes.
Most of the films were shot during the summer holidays that Salvatore used to spend with family and friends in Seiano di Vico Equense, where the Cilento family owned a house. The images therefore depict scenes of beach life with water games, strolls on the wooden piers of the picturesque bathing establishments built on the cliffs, jokes between friends and boat trips, as well as trips along the Sorrento and Amalfi coasts. Also clearly visible is the village of Seiano, with its main square known as ‘La Villetta’ and its characteristic belvedere. Then there is a series of more family-oriented footage, centred in particular around little Vera Ceccarelli, daughter of one of Salvatore’s sisters.
Between strolls in the city centre, jokes on the beach and trips to the surrounding villages, Salvatore Cilento offers a glimpse of the Campania bourgeoisie in the 1930s. Finally, the shot taken by Salvatore during an aeroplane flight over the Neapolitan city is very impressive.


Cilento Family Fund

Chronological Extremes

Early 1930s – early 1940s


11 coils