Tuscan Blockbusters: Three Famous Movies with Scenes Shot in Tuscany

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Quick, name three movies that had scenes filmed in Tuscany!  If most of you could only think of Under the Tuscan Sun don't be discouraged, sometimes it can hard to distinguish movie scenes that were shot on location from scenes that were shot on a lot.  It's pretty rare for films to be 100% shot on location today, a large chunk of a movie's budget goes to traveling costs and filming permits.  It's possible that some of your favorite Tuscany villa rentals could have been in the background of a movie.  It's obvious that films set Tuscany will have a few shots in the city, but you'd be surprised to learn just how many movies had scenes filmed in Tuscany.  Try to spot the Tuscan backgrounds the next time you see one of these films. 

Twilight New Moon

You wouldn't expect that a movie about human/vampire love affair set in the American northwest would have some scenes set in Italy, but thanks to vampire politics the main character's near immortal love interest needs to travel to Italy to speak with a power vampire coven.  Some people thought that the beautiful Tuscan scenery in the movie was CGI, but when you saw Edward Cullen swaggering down the street you saw him walking down the historic streets Volterra.  It's easy to see why Stephenie Meyer had the ancient coven headquarters in Volterra.  The town can trace its origin back to Neolithic times and has breath tasking historic architecture that can date back to the Romans.

The English Patient

This moving romantic drama only had a budget of $27 million, but it managed to make over $200 million in revenue.  A good portion of the film's plot takes place in Africa, but most of the second half of the movie takes place in Italy.  Most of the film's scenes that took place in Africa were filmed in Tunisa, but almost all of the scenes that take place in Italy were filmed on location.  The quaint Italian town that was featured in the film is located in Pienza, and the chapel where the main character Hana studies frescos is the Bacci Chapel located in the Basillica of San Francesco in Arezzo. 


This historical epic won five Academy Awards and focused on a loyal Roman general who was betrayed and forced to participate in gladiator battles.  The film had a budget of $103 million, and it's safe to assume that a good portion of that went to traveling costs.  The opening battle scenes were filmed in the Bourne Woods near Farnham Surrey in England, and the scenes that depicted gladiators training and trekking across huge areas of desert were filmed in Quarzazate, Morroco.   CGI helped make a lot of film's visually striking scenes, but there are two iconic scenes that were shot in Tuscany.  The scene where the main character Maximus rides back home after the war to save his family were shot in the Siennese countryside, and the scene where he dreams of paradise was shot in Val d' Orica. 

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