La Dolce Vita

It’s Italian for “the good life” or “the sweet life.” However, it most often refers to a 1960 Italian movie about a photographer living among high society in Rome.

Why I Looked It Up

In House of Gucci:

Long before the days of la dolce vita, Aldo had identified Italy’s capital city as on of the the most popular playgrounds of the world’s elite.

Italy’s capital is Rome, and the quote means that Aldo Gucci saw the value of doing business in Rome before the movie identified it as a glamorous city.

Interestingly, the phrase in the text is in lower case, which means it refers to the general concept of “the high life,” rather than the movie. I did some searching on the early usages of the phrase, and they seem to date from the movie, which means the title of the movie gave birth to a popular phrase (also see Bucket List).

I did a Google NGram search for it, and usage climbs in the late 50s, which just precedes the 1960 movie. This makes me wonder if perhaps the movie was capitalizing on a phrase that emerged organically and independently.

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