After a discussion with friends, I was resolved on which Fellini movie to watch next. I liked La Dolce Vita, and I loved 8 1/2. They recommended La Strada. Thank you, Herb & Carol!
La Strada is enchanting, primarily because of the main character, Gelsomina. I couldn't figure out if she was supposed to be painfully shy, a little slow, naive, or any combination of those. It didn't really matter to me, though. She was so endearing that my spirit soared with her every smile, and my heart sunk with her every tear.
Gelsomina (played by Giulietta Masina, Fellini's wife), lives with her family in poverty. She is sold into labor by her mother, and joins Zampano, an ill-tempered traveling strongman. Their journey through Italy coincides with her own journey to understanding her purpose in life- even as Zampano (Anthony Quinn) is thoughtless and cruel to her. The ending, though not the happiest, is very fitting and satisfying.
Some of the reviews of La Strada I perused online classify it as surreal. I don't know that I agree with that. Everything was plausible; besides, don't we all have moments in our [real] lives when we think , "This is just surreal"??
So, if you have any interest in watching a black-and-white Italian movie (I can hear my mom now: "Bleeehhh!"), watch La Strada.