Top 10……Most Romantic* Filming Locations

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner what better way to celebrate the most romantic date (or what we’re told should be the romantic date!) on the calendar than taking a look at some places which have provided the backdrop for some scenes of affection being shown between lovers. Of course these images are helped on the silver screen with clever editing, added studio footage, CGI and musical scores which all add to the occasion. Basically, what we’re saying is that what you saw happen on screen may not transfer itself to your visit! This list features a mix of the good, the obvious, the bizarre and the plain wrong! So here without further ado is our Top 10……Most Romantic* Filming Locations…

(* The Beyond The Movies definition of romance!)

1. Villa Del Balbianello, Como (Italy): ‘Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones‘ (2002) & ‘Casino Royale‘ (2006) – A double dose of romantic action to get us started. Anakin and Padmé got secretly married here in the former and Bond recovers from his beating and then declares his love for Vesper in the latter. More details here and here.

 

2. Royal Exchange Building, London (UK): ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary‘ (2000) – Bridget catches up with Darcy here and is relieved to see him present her with a new diary so that they can make a new start together as one. More details here.

 

3. St. Mark’s Anglican Church Darling Point, Sydney (Australia): ‘Muriel’s Wedding‘ (1994) – There’s surely got to be a church somewhere in this list and so its this one! Muriel finally realises her dream here…or does she?! More details here.

 

4. Bocca Della Verita, Rome (Italy): ‘Roman Holiday‘ (1954) – Providing the films most famous scene where Joe pulls his hand out of the ‘mouth of truth’ with his hand up his sleeve astonishing Ann. More details here.

mouth-of-truth 

5. Maya Bay, Phuket (Thailand): ‘The Beach‘ (2000) – Leo not only stole the heart of the beautiful Francoise here but he stole her from “French boy” too! Don’t expect to have this place to yourselves is all I’m saying! More details here.

 

6. Katz’s Deli, New York (USA): ‘When Harry Met Sally‘ (1989) – “I’ll have what she’s having!” is the classic line delivered at this sandwich shop following Sally’s fake climax in response to Harry’s boast that none of his one night stands had faked an orgasm. More details here.

 

7.  Tiffany’s, New York (USA): ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ (1966) – The image of Audrey Hepburn in her black evening gown and sunglasses with a pearl necklace around her neck and a coffee and croissant in her hand is an iconic one. She gets out of a yellow cab as the morning light breaks and gazes up at the famous jewellery store sign. All girls love Tiffany’s and who would’ve thought that 18 months after visiting this place with my girlfriend I’d be presenting her with a Tiffany’s engagement ring! More details here.

 

8.  Whittier High School, Los Angeles (USA): ‘Back To The Future‘ (1984) – Marty went back to the past to change his future by getting his parents together in the first place at the ‘Enchantment Under The Sea’ dance at this school. More details here.

 

9. Imperial Palace, Las Vegas (USA): ‘Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery‘ (1997) – Alotta Fagina’s penthouse suite where Austin shagged her rotten to use his exact words! More details here.

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10. Tiki Motel, Los Angeles (USA): ‘The Terminator‘ (1984) – John Connor was conceived here in what is perhaps the most pivotal point in the whole Terminator franchise. You could stay in the same room where Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese did the deed! More details here.

 

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

mouth-of-truth Italy Aug '09 131

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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Star Wars Traveller: Naboo (a.k.a. Villa del Balbianello)

Ask almost anybody what their 6th favourite Star Wars film is and chances are that they will say ‘Episode II: Attack of the Clones‘. To be honest, I wasn’t overly impressed with episodes I and II but my opinion changed with the former after visiting the filming locations in Tunisia last year. Visiting the Plaza de Espana in Seville at the start of the year heightened my interest in episode II and that was extended even further in anticipation of seeing the following at the Villa del Balbianello in Como.
Unlike the ‘Casino Royale’ shots (done at the same place) Star Wars episode II included a bit of CGI here and there. The first such example is when we see the villa from the lake albeit with domes added to the roof. Sadly I didn’t get to take a photo of the place from quite the same angle as I never took a boat to that part of the lake.
Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala arrive at the lake retreat on the latter’s home planet of Naboo. They arrive by boat but this was a different place to where I arrived and this scene could not be perfectly re-created as it was shot from the stone wall which isn’t accessible to the public. I had to take my pictures of the boat dock and steps leading down to it from different angles.
   
After climbing the steps (not on camera) we then see the pair of them walk along a terrace with a pond in the foreground and a bush in the background.
   
They walk over to the balcony overlooking the lake. Notice the strange shape trunk on the right of each photo.
   
This balcony is where the two heroes kiss for the first time although Padmé later pulls away as their love is forbidden. Sadly my girlfriend wasn’t with me on this trip to re-create such a scene which I would have insisted upon no doubt to her disproval. By that I mean the geekiness of it rather than the kiss!
We return to this part of the villa for the film’s climax as Anakin and Padmé get married in secret with R2D2 and C3PO the only ones in attendance. The former managed to turn up for my appearance again as he did in Tunisia and Spain. Sadly the beautiful red flowers in the movie are not so distinct now.
  
 
The loggia which appeared in ‘Casino Royale’ was used a little differently in ‘Attack of the Clones‘. Only the area under the arches is seen beginning with Anakin in a Jedi trance looking out across the lake early in the morning following his nightmare.
 
“Jedi don’t have nightmares” is what Anakin tells Padmé but she says that she heard him and then he explains that he saw his mother in pain in his dreams and that he must return to Tatooine to try and save her. The sunlight made this one hard to re-create but typically I didn’t think about closing the door until later that evening.
 
The following shot was done using a platform and fake window and window sill but in reality it is just the garden out the back of the ticket office and bookshop. This was cut from the movie but does appear in the deleted scenes chapter on the DVD. It see’s Anakin being questioned in the garden by Padmé’s father about his intentions.
 
Another scene to end upon the cutting room floor was Padme’s bedroom (no, not a sex scene!) and this started with a view of the villa shot from below in the garden although as you can see CGI magic makes the two look quite different.
 
The deleted bedroom scene (seen on the dvd) was shot in one of the loggia rooms (below) although they basically stripped it of its period furniture and imported a rug, bed and so on to make it more Naboo-like.
 
 The Villa del Balbianello as seen in ‘Casino Royale’ can be seen here.
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Naboo (a.k.a. Seville) here.
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Naboo (a.k.a. Caserta) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. Tozeur) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. Matmata) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. The Ksours) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. Djerba) here

Como (Italy Filming Locations): Casino Royale (2006)

Daniel Craig’s first outing as ‘007’ in 2006’s ‘Casino Royale‘ re-booted the ‘Bond’ franchise and gave it the kick up the ar*e that it needed. It is in fact one of the best Bond film’s and the ending to the movie was filmed in Como at two locations. We shall begin at the Villa del Balbianello which is where Bond recovers from his beating by the main antagonist Le Chiffre and is being questioned by the dodgy(?) MI6 Agent Mathis in the garden which is actually just outside the ticket office and bookshop entered through the door on the left of the picture below right.
 
Bond is one step ahead of Mathis though and has him tasered and arrested. He is then dragged away across the garden as we get to see the opposite direction of the first scene I mentioned.
 
The next scene begins with a beautiful sweeping shot of the loggia.
 
Bond wakes up to see Vesper (played by Eva Green) and they start to whisper a load of sweet nothings to each other on the south side of the loggia.
 
Monsieur Mendel interrupts the romance by coming up the path which tells anyone who has visited the Villa that he actually arrived by boat. One would thing that that kind of thing is fairly unlikely but you never know. Like it matters anyway!
 
Swiss Bank manager Mendel then ignores Vesper’s pleasantry and puts his briefcase on the table where, after a joke about Swiss chocolates, he asks Bond to input the account number and password into some special device within the case so that his 120 million (dollars?) casino winnings can be transferred. Herr Mendel then exits leaves the Villa grounds the same way he arrived and for all we know he may have sped off on his boat!
 
More flirting, a declaration of love for each other (basically) and a kissing scene follows before the camera is peering down on them from up somewhere in the loggia and that is the last time we see the Villa del Balbianello.
The very final 90 seconds of Casino Royale were shot at Villa La Gaeta in Aquaseria, and was a real pain in the ass to get to. First, I had to wait about 90minutes for a bus but that bus stopped at the depo where I had to wait a while longer before changing to another bus which needed another ticket. Although very easy to see from the lake, when going there by road it is a lot more difficult to spot. After going through a long tunnel you come out and then go almost straight away into another tunnel and as soon as you exit that one its on the right. Very easy to miss!
The first shot we see of the villa is from its front gates as the car of the mysterious Mr White goes down the driveway.
 
This is easy enough to copy as one can just poke their camera through the gates and snap away. At worst this is all I thought I might get as the villa is a private home but I was determined to try and get in somehow. Luckily, as soon as I arrived at the villa a young guy in his twenties was going in the side gate. I asked in my bad Italian if he spoke English to which he thankfully said yes. I asked if I could go in for a few moments to take a photo or two but he said it wasn’t possible as it might upset the other guests. I begged and begged and even offered cash but he wasn’t gonna change his mind. He did say he would take a few quick photo’s for me and sensing that this would be as good as I would get I duly handed him the camera and so that’s why the following photo’s aren’t as good as match-up as I’d usually try and do.
A fantastic aerial shot of the villa in all its glory is followed by Mr White parking his car, looking out across the lake and getting a call from Bond not that he knows it’s him. In fact he even says “Who is this?” which sets up the final line very well.
The response to Mr White’s question is a shot in the leg from a hidden Bond which leaves him crawling across the gravel in front of a bench.
    
Mr White is then shown crawling towards the steps of the villa of which the second step is very recognisable as it has a rusty colour mark in the middle of it. As the villain tries to climb the steps we see the feet of Bond appear and the camera pans up to show his face and we see him holding his mobile in one hand and the gun in the other which he used only moments before. Proof that some things are best left to last as Bond finally answers Mr White’s question in typical 007 fashion; “The name’s Bond…James Bond.”