Tuscany and the cinema: love at first sight

Friday, April 13, 2012

Life is Beautiful

Have you ever visited a city’s historical centre, or one of the many Tuscany Villas and had the feeling of being in a familiar place? Deja vu perhaps, a memory imprinted in your mind from a scene in a famous film?

Tuscany, due to its architectural and natural beauty, is one of the most desirable filming locations for some of the all time great Italian directors and directors from all over the world.

The list of Italian films shot in Tuscany is endless though we should give a special mention to film director and Oscar winner Roberto Benigni. He moved the world with his film "Life is Beautiful" in 1997. It is the tragic story of a father and son imprisoned in a Nazi death camp. For the filming Benigni returned to Arezzo in Tuscany, where he was born forty-five years earlier. Still today, walking around the historic city centre, it is not uncommon to find places that you will recognize from the film.

Tuscany is also linked to many other Italian directors like Federico Fellini. He set some of the scenes of his masterpiece “8 ½” in the famous spa town of Chianciano. There is also Bernardo Bertolucci who filmed parts of “Stealing Beauty” in Villa Geggiano, in the hills of Siena.

Besides the famous Italian directors, Anthony Minghella filmed parts of "The English Patient" in Viareggio and Forte dei Marmi. Ridley Scott’s award-winning "The Gladiator" was shot in San Quirico d'Orcia, near Siena.

The use of seaside resorts, historic centres and monuments are common. Filmmakers are also attracted by the houses, palaces and the Tuscany Villas and the amount of times that the villas in Tuscany have been used as film sets is innumerable. You may recall films such as "Much Ado About Nothing" which was directed by Kenneth Branagh and filmed at Villa Vignamaggio in the province of Florence. Another is "Portrait of a Lady" by Jane Campion, filmed in Villa Reale, which is undoubtedly one of the most popular of the Tuscany Villas.

More recently famous films shot in the area include "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Audrey Wells , a dedication of love for this land, plus Spike Lee’s controversial film “Miracle at Sant Anna” that tells one of the most dramatic accounts of the Nazi invasion of  Italy.

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