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The stunning movie scene locations you simply have to visit in Italy

Over the years, Italy's cities, mountains, and countryside have formed the backdrop to some of the best films in cinematic history, from Roman Holiday to Under the Tuscan Sun.

The stunning movie scene locations you simply have to visit in Italy
Can you guess which movie was filmed here? Photo: zoomarket/Depositphotos

Visiting some of the sights immortalized on the big screen is a great way to explore the country, whether you make like Audrey Hepburn and take a scooter ride around the capital or tuck into a pizza at the restaurant Julia Roberts visited in Eat, Pray, Love

However, movie fans are advised against recreating La Dolce Vita's famous Trevi Fountain scene: each year, dozens of tourists are caught attempting to bathe in the landmark, and the city has ramped up fines in an effort to deter Anita Ekberg wannabes.

Instead, here's a list of ten beautiful spots from up and down the country which you probably never realized played a part in your favourite films. How many have you visited?

1) Ischia, from The Talented Mr Ripley (1999)

Nestled between Ischia Ponte (a square also featured in the film) and Ischia Porte on the island just off Naples, you'll find Bagno Antonio, a secluded beach which was the setting for a key scene in the 1999 thriller.

It's here that the title character first meets Dickie (Jude Law) and Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow) – but fans should travel to Procida, Ischia's underrated neighbour, to get the full Ripley experience. Wandering round its colourful streets you'll recognize plenty of views and buildings from the film, including the Church of Our Lady of Grace, pictured below.


Photo: prosiaczeq/Depositphotos.

2) San Quirico d'Orcia, Tuscany, from The Gladiator (2000)

This part of Tuscany is worth visiting for the beautiful scenery alone, and director Ridley Scott was certainly impressed by the area – it was chosen as the site of the home of gladiator Maximus (played by Russell Crowe).


Photo: Kassandra2/Depositphotos

The road through the hillside of Terrapille, Siena is shown at several important points in the film, as Maximus journeys home from war and later, just before his death. The cypresses here are nicknamed 'gladiators' for their role in the film, and the crew spent two weeks here getting the perfect shots.

3) Matera, from The Passion of the Christ (2004)

The film itself might be one of the most violent of the century so far, but it scooped an Oscar nomination for the cinematography. Some scenes had the stunning backdrop of Matera, a city known as the 'Subterranean city' which lies is the southern region of Basilicata.

Matera is known for its cave network: a huge set of dwellings and churches carved into the rockface. They were inhabited for centuries, with barely any renovations or updates made, until the Italian government ordered locals to move out in the 1950's due to health concerns. Now, however, many of the homes are in use again, and visitors can even stay in a hotel in one of the caves.

READ ALSO: Exploring the Sassi di Matera, southern Italy's ancient cave dwellings

Fans of the film should make sure to check out San Nicola dei Greci, one of the churches carved into the rock where the Last Supper was filmed, and follow the alleyways of the Sasso Caveoso to trace the route of the procession of the cross in the film.

 

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4) Central Florence, from A Room With a View (1987)

A Room With A View tells the tale of Lucy Honeychurch, a young upper-class woman who travels to Italy under the watchful eye of her cousin Charlotte. For Lucy, Florence is a world of possibilities and vitality, far from the restrained culture of Edwardian England, and she explores the city's key sights from the Church of Santa Croce to the Piazza della Signoria.

 

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Piazza della Signoria, where Lucy witnesses a knife fight.

But while those sights will make their way onto most tourists' itineraries, there's another gem which fans of the film should make sure not to miss.

The hotel where Lucy and Charlotte stay in the film, the Pensione Bertolini, can be found on the banks of the Arno. In reality, it's called the Hotel Degli Orafi, and boasts a magnificently decorated dining room as well as beautiful rooms – some, naturally, with excellent views.

 

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The dining room of the Hotel Degli Orafi

5) The Royal Palace of Caserta, from Star Wars Episodes I and II:

In Reggia di Caserta, not far from Naples, visitors will find the Versailles-inspired Royal Palace – a Unesco World Heritage Site and example of stunning baroque architecture. But the palace was also transformed into Queen Amidala's royal palace on Naboo in two of the Star Wars films, Attack of the Clones and The Phantom Menace.

Star Wars fans will recognize the ornate rooms and staircases of the palace, and it's worthwhile addition to a travel itinerary in southern Italy. It's also featured in other films such as Angels and Demons and Mission Impossible.

 

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Further north, take a pilgrimage to the spot where Anakin and Padmé got married, the Villa del Balbianello, which is Italy's most visited FAI (National Trust) property and offers beautiful views over Lake Como.

 

Top pic Anakin, bottom pic me. They shot scenes from Episode II at a villa I visited!

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6) Rome and Naples eateries from Eat Pray Love (2010)

Julia Roberts plays Elizabeth, a woman hoping to step out of her comfort zone after a divorce by travelling around the world. Italy naturally represents the 'eat' portion of her journey, and you can follow in her footsteps by visiting the very same foodie spots.

The apartment Elizabeth stays in in Rome can be found at 18 Via dei Portoghesi, in the west of the city close to the Tiber River. 

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Fans can try out the San Crispino gelateria, an organic ice cream chain which has seen a boost in popularity after its mention in the book. In the film, Roberts eats hers by the Chiesa di Sant'Agnese in Agone in Piazza Navona.

Other eateries to try are the nearby Caffè della Pace in Via Della Pace, where Elizabeth eats with her Italian teacher as he explains the Italian approach to food and life, and the Osteria dell'Antiquario and Ristorante Santa Lucia, both of which are near Piazza Navona and feature in the film.

 

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And in Naples, fans should brave the often hours-long queue at Da Michele to try a slice of their pizza and see if they enjoy it as much as Roberts in the film. They only serve margherita and marinara, and you'll spot a photo of Roberts near the entrance, among other family memorabilia on display in the unassuming restaurant.

7) Arezzo, Tuscany from Life is Beautiful (1997)

Roberto Benigni's Oscar-winning film tells the story of the Jews' deportation from Italy, and one father's attempt to protect his son from the awful reality, using his imagination to convince him that life really is beautiful.

READ ALSO: Why Arezzo should be the next town you visit in Tuscany

Arezzo authorities have capitalized on the film's success so visitors to the town will find many of the key filming locations clearly sign-posted. Check out Piazza Grande, Caffe dei Costanti – where Guido's son spots a sign saying 'no entry to Jews or dogs' – 19 Via Borgo Unito, the site of the shop Guido owns at the start of the film, and Piazza della Badia, where you can recreate the bicycle scene below.

Guido, Dora and Giosuè cycle through Arezzo's Piazza della Badia.

Another important spot not to miss is the Teatro Petrarca In the movie, this is the opera house, where protagonist Guido first spots Dora. And in the nearby town of Montevarchi, the lavish Villa Masini, where the home of Dora's family was set in the film, is also well worth visiting.

 
A version of this article was first published in 2017.

 

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How a rental car shortage in Europe could scupper summer holiday plans

After long months of lockdowns and curfews Europeans are looking forward to jetting off for a bit of sun and sand -- only to find that their long awaited holiday plans go awry due to a shortage of rental cars.

How a rental car shortage in Europe could scupper summer holiday plans
Tourists wait outside of rental car agencies in Corsica. Photo: PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA / AFP

In many areas popular with tourists cars are simply not available or subcompacts are going for a stiff €500 euros.

Car rental comparison websites show just how expensive renting a vehicle has become for tourists this summer.

According to Carigami, renting a car for a week this summer will set tourists back an average of 364 euros compared to 277 euros two years ago.

For Italy, the figure is 407 euros this summer compared to 250 euros in 2019. In Spain, the average cost has jumped to 263 euros from 185 euros.

According to another website, Liligo, daily rental costs have nearly doubled on the French island of Corsica. At the resort city of Palma on the Spanish island of Mallorca, rental prices have nearly tripled.

Today’s problem is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Faced with near absence of clients, selling off vehicles to raise cash made a lot of sense for car rental firms struggling to survive.

“Everyone drastically reduced their fleet,” said the head of Europcar, Caroline Parot.

Until the spring, most companies still had fleets roughly a third smaller than in 2019, she said.

Car rental firms are used to regularly selling their vehicles and replacing them, so rebuilding their inventory should not have been a problem.

Except the pandemic sent demand for consumer electronics surging, creating a shortage of semiconductors, or chips, that are used not only in computers but increasingly in cars.

“A key contributor to the challenge right now is the global chip shortage, which has impacted new vehicle availability across the industry at a time when demand is already high,” said a spokesman for Enterprise.

It said it was working to acquire new vehicles but that in the mean time it is shifting cars around in order to better meet demand.

No cars, try a van

“We’ve begun to warn people: if you want to come to Italy, which is finally reopening, plan and reserve ahead,” said the head of the association of Italian car rental firms, Massimiliano Archiapatti.

He said they were working hard to meet the surge in demand at vacation spots.

“But we’ve got two big islands that are major international tourism destinations,” he said, which makes it difficult to move cars around,
especially as the trip to Sardinia takes half a day.

“The ferries are already full with people bringing their cars,” he added.

“Given the law of supply and demand, there is a risk it will impact on prices,” Archiapatti said.

The increase in demand is also being seen for rentals between individuals.

GetAround, a web platform that organises such rentals, said it has seen “a sharp increases in searches and rentals” in European markets.

Since May more than 90 percent of cars available on the platform have been rented on weekends, and many have already been booked for much of the summer.

GetAround has used the surge in demand to expand the number of cities it serves.

For some, their arrival can’t come fast enough.

Bruno Riondet, a 51-year-old aeronautics technician, rents cars to attend matches of his favourite British football club, Brighton.

“Before, to rent a car I was paying between 25 and 30 euros per day. Today, it’s more than 90 euros, that’s three times more expensive,” he said.

In the United States, where prices shot higher during the spring, tourists visiting Hawaii turned to renting vans.

In France, there are still cars, according to Jean-Philippe Doyen, who handles shared mobility at the National Council of Automobile Professionals.

“Clients have a tendency to reserve at the last minute, even more so in the still somewhat uncertain situation,” he said.

They will often wait until just a few days before their trip, which means car rental firms don’t have a complete overview of upcoming demand, he added.

He said business is recovering but that revenue has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels as travel is not yet completely unfettered.

SEE ALSO: British drivers will no longer need an insurance ‘green card’ to visit Europe, EU rules

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