Tuscany in the Movies


If there is a land that is particularly loved by directors of films and documentaries, this is without doubt Tuscany, which was quickly discovered and exploited by the world of cinema for it’s beautiful locations. Tuscany’s career in the cinema began at the beginning of the 1900s, and in order to mention all the films made in Tuscany, you’d need a whole book!

Tuscany has “starred” in a multitude of films, from Romola (Henry King 1924) set in Florence in the 1500s starring the legendary Gish sisters, Le repos du guerrier (1962 Vadim) filmed in the stunning Abbey of San Galgano and starring Brigitte Bardot. Who can forget the attention Hannibal received in his reappearance in Florence, which has always been and continues to be a popular location for the costume dramas about the Renaissance, the romantic dramas of the English aristocrats living in the Tuscan capital, such as Room with a View (James Ivory) or Portrait of a Lady (Jane Campion). But there’s also dramatic Florence shown in Rossellini’s Pais or the tragedy of Amici Miei starring Ugo Tognazzi and Philippe Noiret.

Roberto Benigni chose Arezzo as the set of La Vita è bella (Life is Beautiful). San Gimignano, with its cluster of medieval towers, is possibly the most photogenic town in Italy, and has been the location for dozens of films, from which stands out Fratello sole, sorella luna (Franco Zeffirelli 1972). It was however the film Il Prato from the Taviani brothers that brought mass tourism to this small Tuscan town, and Tea with Mussolini (Zeffirelli) has also done it’s fair share to promote tourism here in recent years. Sturridge’s adaptation of Forster’s Where Angels Fear to Tread (1992) is set in the fantasy country of Monteriano which is basically a make believe San Gimignano. An English adaption of Boccaccio’s Decamerone is set for release and was filmed between San Gimignano and Siena.

Continuing in the theme of English liturature with a Tuscan backdrop, there are several works by Shakespeare set in Tuscany. Romeo and Juliet (Castellani 1954) was filmed in part in San Quirico d’Orcia, and Kenneth Branagh moved into a villa in the Chianti to film Much Ado about Nothing (1993). Zeffirelli chose Pienza as the set of Romeo and Juliet 1968 which won two Oscars.

Hoffman’s interpretation of Midsummer Night’s Dream (1998) starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Kevin Kline was filmed in this magical walled town that seems captured in a past time. Montepulciano and the countryside around Pienza (the perfect Renaissance town) was the scenic backdrop for The English Patient which won 9 Oscars. The beautiful images of the montastery of Sant’Anna, where Juliet Binoche cares for a gravely injured soldier who, in the delirium of his pain, remembers his own lost romance.

The hugely successful Under the Tuscan Sun was filmed around Montepulciano, Cortona and the Amalfi coast, and tells the semi-autobiographical story of Frances Mayes, the writer from San Francisco, who after her divorce comes to Italy and begins the long restoration of a Renaissance villa, in doing so experiencing a new beginning herself, even finding a new love.

But there are not only American and European films made in Tuscany. The Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai, winner at Cannes in September 2005 for Shanghai Dreams, has recently filmed his documentary, Tuscan Dreams, in various locations throughout Tuscany.The aim of Xiaoshuai is to reveal the hidden side of Tuscany, and filming between Pisa, Florence, the Chianti and Maremma he recounts the life of this marvellous land and its inhabitants, their traditions and customs.


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Commenti (1) | March 16, 2010

One Response to “Tuscany in the Movies”

  1. Sasha Says:
    May 31st, 2012 at 17:55

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