Unique aud, idyllic atmosphere draw celebs to Italian event

Hollywood A-listers have long been going to Giffoni, and usually not to promote their latest pic.

Meryl Streep, Jon Voight, Elijah Wood, Danny DeVito, Meg Ryan, Winona Ryder and Christina Ricci are just some of the Yank thesps who have made the trek in recent years, lured by what fest topper Claudio Gubitosi calls “a mixture of fascination for a unique event and the experience of visiting a proper paradise.”

DeVito, who attended in 2007, famously joked that he likes Giffoni because “with all the kids, I can look at people my own height.” But DeVito was also lured by the Amalfi Coast, the land of limoncello and his grandparents’ home turf.

Located 15 miles northeast of Salerno, Giffoni is perched a short drive from the Greek temples at Paestum and some of Italy’s top-notch hotels, such as Positano’s Hotel San Pietro, the Hotel Rialto in Vietri and the Hotel Caruso in Ravello, the latter located in a former 11th-century palace.

Until the mid-1980s, I had to include a map in our letterhead,” recalls Gubitosi, who tries to put stars at ease in a context focused on forming young cinephiles rather than tubthumping a new title.

The second time Voight came to Giffoni, in 1999, he said he was “conquered” by the place and the people, besides being taken by the quality of the kids’ questions, which prompted him to help bring a portion of the fest to L.A.

For stars, the idea is to offer the antithesis of the media circus they have to endure at, say, Cannes or even Venice.

Besides a question and answer sesh, talents also lunch with a select group of young jurors from all over the world, followed by a siesta in one of several guest houses in the vicinity.

When they talk to kids, they aren’t as guarded,” Gubitosi says. “They can reveal more of their real side.”

A Giffoni stay usually entails a tour of the Salerno province, often extending to the nearby Naples area, including Capri and Pompei.

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