Food & Drink: Van Life

Matteo Troncone searches for the secrets of Neapolitan pizza

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Matteo Troncone spent five years living in his van while he was working on his first feature film. Film still by Matteo Troncone.

Matteo Troncone’s aptly named documentary Arrangiarsi (pizza … and the art of living) takes viewers on an intimate journey from Mill Valley, California through the lively streets of Naples, Italy. Part travelogue and part history lesson, the film, screening at this year’s Mill Valley Film Festival, sets out to uncover the secrets of renowned Neapolitan pizza. But along the way, a hearty dose of self-discovery, along with the art of making something out of nothing—or arrangiarsi—are also explored.

As is revealed in the film, Troncone spent five years living in his van, and over a 7 ½-year time span, made multiple trips to Italy. It was during an initial visit to the country that Troncone decided to make a film about pizza, and the place that is widely regarded as the birthplace of the beloved dish.

“Everyone told me that I couldn’t do it—that I didn’t know anything about making movies or pizza,” says the New York native with a twinkle in his eye. Troncone ignored the naysayers and instead fully embraced arrangiarsi.

While this film certainly explores much more than pizza, foodies need not worry. Troncone takes a trip to the famous town of San Marzano outside of Naples, where, in order to make a true Neapolitan pizza (Vera Pizza Napoletana), a Roma tomato variety is the only one that can be used. Likewise the film explores how producers of this famous pizza strictly adhere to the use of only the highest-quality ingredients, and even take into consideration the water that is necessary to create a perfect dough.

Though it’s difficult to resist making comparisons to Eat Pray Love (a male version), there is a buoyancy and vibrant cadence to the film that makes it more a love letter to Naples than a pizza documentary.

‘Arrangiarsi (pizza … and the art of living)’; mvff.com.

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