In 1939, Luchino Visconti moved to via Salaria 366 across the street from Villa Ada. Film director and antifascist, Visconti risked being arrested and went into hiding leaving his home in the hands of film star Maria Denis who was madly in love with him.
One day the SS arrived at Visconti’s villa and arrested Visconti’s gardner, Paolo Mocci, who was a resistance fighter. Mocci was taken to the infamous Pensione Jaccarino on via Romagna where he was tortured then forced to the Fosse Ardeatine where, along with 334 other prisoners, he was murdered.
Maria was taken in for questioning some time later. She was interrogated by Pietro Koch, Fascist police chief. A few days later, Visconti was arrested and condemned to death. Yet, strangely enough, released. Maria would later say that it was thanks to the infatuation Koch had for her that saved Visconti’s life. Nevertheless, on April 5, 1946, Maria was arrested for having collaborated with the Fascists and thrown in jail for 18 days. Visconti refused to be a witness in her behalf but did pay her legal fees. Despite being cleared of all accusations, Maria’s reputation was indelibly tarnished leaving her career in ashes.
A few years later, Franco Zeffirelli would live at via Salaria 366 with Visconti as would Helmut Berger. But in 1972, Visconti, victim of an ictus, was forced to give up his notorious home.