Tuscany in the Movies

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tuscany is well known for its sprawling landscapes, hills like rolling waves, and gorgeous scenery. As such, it has become the setting and backdrop to many a film, adding a sense of sweeping grandeur and beauty. With a film career beginning in the early 1900s, Tuscany continues to be used in popular movies today.

If you’re in the mood to “travel” to Tuscany, you can watch any of these five films and be instantly transported there. Whether you enjoy the sights from afar or are planning a trip there, Tuscany inspires joy in these movies.

A Room with a View
This film is an adaptation of the turn-of-the-century novel, and stars a charming Helena Bonham Carter as Lucy Honeychurch, a young woman on holiday in Italy. She falls in love with a free-spirited young man, George Emerson, much to the chagrin of her stern chaperone, Charlotte Bartlett.

Underscoring the love story of this film is the beauty of Italy. Lucy and her chaperone are given rooms without views, and George Emerson switches with them so they are able to see the countryside. The scenery epitomizes Florence, and captures the splendor of Italy, which is what brings the two lovers together.

Much Ado About Nothing
This Shakespearean comedy is one of the easiest to understand, and stars Kenneth Brannagh and Emma Thompson. The duo begin the film hating each other, trading sharp-tongued insults. The rest of the cast good-naturedly scheme to get the two together, lots of hijinks ensue, and they do eventually fall in love.  

The film opens with panoramic views of Italy, which set the mood. The cheerful yellow landscape is appropriately framed in each shot, from outdoor scenes to indoor scenes. Filmed in Chianti, the scenery shines through the work with sun and flowers, signaling the vitality of all involved.

Tea with Mussolini
A group of expatriate English women reside in Italy and meet for tea every afternoon. One of the group begins to care for a young Italian boy named Luca, and turns to the rest of the group for help. Mussolini and Fascists threaten their calm existence, however, and the ladies are interned. Luca helps with a plot to free the ladies who cared for him.

The scenery changes in this film, but it is always Italian. The movie has actually encouraged tourism from the lovely shots of Tuscany. From the place where the ladies have tea, to the scenes of Revolution, Tuscany is displayed in full glory.

Under the Tuscan Sun
Diane Lane stars in this romantic dramedy as a recently-divorced writer who visits to Tuscany at the urging of her pregnant friend. She finds herself under the spell of Italy, and purchases a villa to renovate. In her new home, surrounded by new people, she begins to heal and find herself.

This film is filled with sunshine and all things classically Italian: the vineyards, the rolling hills, the villas. Diane Lane’s character is rejuvenated by her new life, and it will make you want your own luxury villa in Tuscany. The sun-drenched atmosphere is a perfect setting for the story, as much as the setting is the story.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Another Shakespearean comedy, this film features an all-star cast along with Tuscan forests and towns. Originally set in Greece, this film updates the time and location, and the result is marvelous. There are three main plots: that involving the fairy rulers Oberon and Titania, the love square between four youths, and the “rude mechanicals” writing a play to perform. There is massive confusion and many laughs to be had, as every character is played perfectly by its actor.

The verdant Tuscany plays quiet but irresistible second to every scene. The forest scenes are all shimmery emerald, and the scenes in town are bright and bold. Tuscany is idealized in its earthy 19th century, and makes for a light and lovely setting.

Tuscany is as much the star of these films as the actors are. Without its exquisite landscapes, the movies would be missing a key element in their makeup. Enjoy these films whether you want a taste of Tuscany or are planning to travel there. 

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