Top 5……Italy Filming Locations

The promised land of Italy is a magnet for attracting hordes of tourists from all over the world who of course head for the wonderful landscapes in Rome, Venice, Florence, Milan and so on but the country also delivers big time when it comes to being shown on the silver screen. Of course there have been countless number of movies shot in Italy and whilst many have been shot in and around major sights like the Colosseum, Pantheon and  Fontana di Trevi this Tokyo Fox top 5 list includes slightly less famous sights which have almost become more famous for the movies filmed on location.

1. Villa del Balbianello, Como – A double-dose of movies were made at this villa in the last decade. First, ‘Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones‘ (2002) used the place as the Naboo lakeside retreat and then ‘Casino Royale‘ (2006) gave the 007 franchise a kick up the ass with Bond resting-up here at the end of the film. More details here

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2. Caserta Palace, Caserta – Located just north of Naples this palace has featured in a few movies now. These include ‘Mission Impossible III‘ (2006), ‘Angels & Demons‘ (2009) and ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace‘ (1999) with the main staircase being seen in the latter two. It portrayed the Vatican City in the former two and was the setting for Queen Amidala’s Royal Palace on Naboo in Star Wars. More details here

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3. Hotel Danielli, Venice – This hotel first came to prominence (movie-wise!) in the 1979 007 film ‘Moonraker’ starring Roger Moore as the secret agent. It would be featured 31 years later in the less memorable ‘The Tourist‘ starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie and also featuring Moore’s successor Timothy Dalton. How’s that for a slightly tenuous link! More details here

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4. Bocca della Verita, Rome – Providing the most famous scene in ‘Roman Holiday‘ (1954) where Joe pulled his hand out of the ‘mouth of truth’ with his hand up his sleeve astonishing Ann. Be aware that the line’s for the photo opportunity can be very long so it’s worth getting there early. More details here

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5. Chiesa di San Barnaba, Venice – Located in the midst of the maze that is Venice streets and canal’s you may get lost trying to locate this one but if you’re a fan of  ’Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade‘ (1989) then it’s worth it. Indy and co walk across a nearby bridge and then enter the church which is a library in the film. Indy goes inside (probably not paying the expensive entrance fee!) and finds an important clue relating to the numeral ‘X’. More details here

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Italy Filming Locations: Angels & Demons (2009)

It’s fair to say I’ve been to quite a few filming locations over the last five years and as rewarding as they have all been it aint half nice to recognise places you’ve been to when watching an unseen movie. I saw ‘Angels & Demons‘ (2009) recently and was happy to see the story centred around places I’ve already visited. To be fair though, they are pretty famous sights in southern Italy but they certainly helped me get through the film. I was perhaps a little harsh in my review of ‘The Da Vinci Code‘ back in 2006 which in desperate search of a pun I called “a code of cr*p“. Much like that film I was still able to enjoy the fast paced intensity and drama of the action scenes and chases in ‘Angels & Demons’ not that I had much idea what was actually going on! Thankfully there’s Wikipedia for that!

Following the sudden death of the Pope the Roman Catholic Church mourns his death and Patrick McKenna (Ewan McGregor) takes temporary helm at the Vatican. The marble staircase seen in the screenshot below left was obviously not the real one but that of Caserta Palace, just north of Naples, which also played the same part in ‘Mission Impossible III‘ (2006). It is probably more famous as being Queen Amidala’s Theed Palace on Naboo in ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace‘ (1999).

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Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is summoned to save the day and deduces that the four men likely to be elected Pope will all be killed at locations relating to the four elements – earth, air, fire and water – but before all that the pathway leads to the Pantheon on the Pizza della Rotonda. This Roman Catholic church possesses the very impressive concrete dome which is the largest unreinforced one in the world.

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The ‘earth’ element takes Langdon to the Piazza del Popollo where he enters Santa Maria del Popollo and eventually finds the first cardinal with a mouthful of soil in the crypt of this church. Not quite the same place in my picture below but near enough as the place where I could erm, be found with a mouthful of pizza was just a stones throw away from that church!

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The ‘air’ element is at The Vatican City in St Peter’s Basilica. The screenshots below are from the latter part of the movie and not exactly clear as they were nighttime scenes.

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‘Fire’ is represented by the Cornaro Chapel of Santa Maria della Vittoria where the third cardinal is burned to death. Then its on to ‘water’ at the beautifully picturesque Piazza Navona for one of the most dramatic scenes where the cardinal is dumped into the Fountain of the Four Rivers.

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Having saved the cardinal with the help of some passers-by Langdon is informed by one of them that the illuminati’s lair is Castel Sant’Angelo on the Tiber’s west bank. The barge dance scene in ‘Roman Holiday‘ (1953) took place below the bridge in front of this castle.

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BONUS: Temple Church on Inner Temple Lane in London is where Langdon and Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou of ‘Amelie’ fame) search for the tomb of a knight in ‘The Da Vinci Code‘ (2006) movie which came first although the book by Dan Brown was published after ‘Angels & Demons‘.

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Star Wars Traveller: Naboo (a.k.a. Caserta)

The very first thing I did on my first day in Italy was take an 8am Eurostar train for 28 Euro’s from Rome Termini station to Caserta which is 25 kilometres north of Naples. I had intended to get the 6.27 local train but arrived just a few minutes before and without knowledge of how to get a ticket or which platform to go to I decided to not risk it. Ironically, I still got there earlier than I would have but at three times the price! The reason for this journey was to visit Caserta Palace which is luckily opposite the station and was used as Queen Amidala’s Royal Palace in Naboo in Star Wars Episodes I and II as well as filling in for the inside of the Vatican in Mission Impossible III and more recently Angels and Demons. Having done my research before the trip it really was quite a sight to see those stairs and the huge window that appeared in the Star Wars prequels. I had a quick look around the palace and as impressive and beautiful as it was I just wasn’t that interested in any of the exhibits and pictures on display. However, the palace gardens were very nice and just stretched on for ages and ages as I found to my cost when I walked them in the mid-morning sunshine thinking the end fountain was much closer than it was. With the need to move on and visit Pompeii later that day I took the shuttle bus back to the palace. Back at the station I had to endure Italian inefficiency and poor service as the machines weren’t working and so I had to queue up at the one window that was open just to get a ticket the short distance to Napoli.
You can see my Italia ’09 photos here.