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Life Lessons from Federico Fellini

“Those are the moments when life really beats faster.”

Federico Fellini, famed Italian director and screenwriter of films like La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2, on what he learned during his 73 years of life: 

I don’t have much to say.

I think I have learned very little in all these years.

I’ve learned that there are many thoughtless things you can do. And among those millions, there is one that is even more thoughtless than the others. And you usually do that one.

I’ve learned that blue and black together are a prick in the eye.

I’ve learned that certain smells stick in the memory, and when you smell them again, it’s as if all those years never passed.

I’ve learned that Saturday is better than Sunday.

I’ve learned that everyone has something to tell, but I also learned that hating certain people helps you live better.

I’ve learned that some mornings you would be willing to give an arm away just to sleep for another five minutes.

I’ve learned that some cities are capable of making you forget even what your name is.


I’ve learned that there are some people who are so aesthetically stunning that they even give off their own light. They look, I don’t know, phosphorescent!

I’ve learned that there’s no need to worry if, at 40, you don’t know what to do with your life as long as you still have a great desire to play. Maybe you are the only one who has figured something out.

I’ve learned that if you repeat a word many times, it suddenly loses its meaning.


I’ve learned that sometimes you want to make love to a particular someone so badly that you would ask that person on your knees.

I’ve learned that a cigarette, especially if you are down, can even save your life.

I’ve learned that there are people who are such a pain in the ass that they are a real ornament to the testicles.

I’ve learned that there is nothing more intoxicating than sticking to your choice. And then getting it wrong.

I’ve learned that the comfort of friends can sometimes be cruel.

I’ve learned that Frank Sinatra’s voice is one of the reasons to be in the world. And Heineken is the other.


I’ve learned that salt is put in before the water starts to boil.

I’ve learned that certain rules are made to go against us.

I’ve learned that there is nothing funnier than agreeing with an idiot. And laughing inside.

I’ve learned that over the years, you learn to love your mistakes and regrets as children.


I’ve learned that nostalgia tastes like hot chocolate.

I’ve learned that Ingmar Bergman’s films are not just masterpieces: they are life lessons.

I’ve learned that nothing is more beautiful than getting up at night while everyone else is asleep and wandering in solitude like a dog through the trash, searching for any fulfilling feeling.

I’ve learned that if they ask you to do five things and at the last moment add two, you inevitably forget the first three.

I’ve learned that some people only have their heads to part their ears.

I’ve learned that your favorite shirt attracts gravy in a deadly way.


I’ve learned that there is no finer thing than waking up one morning not knowing what time it is, not recognizing the room, and especially not remembering how you got there.

But most of all, I’ve learned that the really important days in a person’s life are five or six in all.

All the others just make volume.

So sixty years from now, you won’t remember the day you graduated from college or the day you won an Oscar.

You’ll remember that night when you and your friends, the real ones, smoked 10 cigarettes each and inebriated, sang your hearts out in the rain-soaked streets.

Those are the moments when life really beats faster. 

Federico Fellini


P.S. I did learn something after all.