Though a lot of movies set in Italy were actually filmed in the Studios of Cinecittà near Rome, there is something about historical towns that can only be conjured directly on site.
Let’s explore some famous movies, spanning completely different genres. All those movies have made a Tuscan town the amazing backdrop to their story.
1. Vampires in Volterra
Whether or not you are a fan of the romantic teenage saga Twilight, check out the scenes in New Moon (the third installment of the series) set in the Medieval town of Volterra. This jewel of a town, perched on a hill, is only 80 km from Florence.
In the movie, Bella arrives in a fancy sports car which she quickly abandons to race through the narrow streets of pale stones. She pushes through the throngs of red robed faithfuls to make her way to the central piazza and the town hall building. She finally splashes through a fountain, built purposefully for the film, and collapses in the arms of her vampire Edward.
2. A Romantic Tour of Florence
There is nothing like the classic A Room with a View by James Ivory to inspire a romantic holiday in the city of Florence. The town truly was one of the epicenters for artists and aristocrats on their grand tour, just like the film portrays.
The famous Cimitero degli Inglesi (the English Cemetery) hosts quite a few foreigners of the time who didn’t have the heart to leave their adoptive city of Florence. So why not retrace the steps of the characters of a Room with a View through Piazza della Signoria, under the portico of the Uffizi before coming to a stop by the Arno river to get your creativity flowing?
3. Ciao Bella in Arezzo
The happy beginnings of Life is Beautiful start in the picturesque town of Arezzo. Roberto Benigni, both the director and the main protagonist, meets a beautiful woman by crashing into her on his bike. On their first date, they walk under the famous porticoes and through the central square of Arezzo. Sadly, the story turns bitter sweet when the couple and their child are taken to a concentration camp where the father will do everything in his power to hide the desolate truth from his son.
4. Idyllic Countryside in Cortona
Who hasn’t dreamed of leaving their hectic life behind and head for the beautiful Tuscan countryside? Diane Lane’s character does just that In Under the Tuscan Sun: a new life and friends and maybe even love in a charming Italian Villa. The fact is, the landscape around the little town of Cortona in the south east of Tuscany, where the film is set, is really that idyllic and charming and might also make you plan your move to Italy!
5. Real Life History in Stazzema
Spike Lee’s Miracle at Sant’Anna is based on true historical events that took place in Sant’Anna di Stazzema in the North of Tuscany. The retreating Nazi forces chose this little village to send a message to the Italian Resistance. They massacred 560 villagers and refugees, including 160 children and burned down the town. Spike Lee’s film tells the story of a group of Afro-American soldiers who bore witness to the massacre. Though most of the town was destroyed, many buildings have been restored and a mausoleum was built in commemoration of the many lives lost.
6. Running Over the Rooftops of Siena
The Quantum of Solace scene in Siena opens on the Palio, a horse race dating back to the Middle Ages that takes place every summer on July 2 and August 16. The crowd is packed in the central square called Piazza del Campo, famous for its scallop shell shape. The horse are released and the race begins while James Bond is interrogating a suspect in some secret location. Of course he is betrayed by one of his own and chases the man down old stone sewers to end up smack in the middle of the Palio crowd. An action packed chase over the tiled rooftops of Siena ensues with a tireless Mr Bond.
Visiting the filming locations
If you’re a movie freak you might want to visit all the location where those films have been shot. But visiting them without having a car can be daunting. If you’re based in Florence, the best option would be to book a tailor made tour with a private driver that will take you to explore this stunning area, famous for its wine and history.