Filming on No Time To Die, 007's 25th movie outing and the fifth and final time he'll be played by Daniel Craig, arrived in this year's European Capital of Culture on Sunday.
Originally slated to begin in April, the shoot got off to an appropriate start: with an Aston Martin speeding through Matera's scenic streets.
Watched by a curious crowd, the crew closed down part of the city centre as stunt doubles – including what looked to be a long-haired blonde in the passenger seat – shot off on a car chase, the spy's distinctive silver DB5 in pursuit of another vehicle.
Craig himself is expected to arrive in Matera in the next few days, for a shoot that will last nearly four weeks and bring an estimated €12 million of investment to the city.
Some 400 jobs are expected to be created by the production, not to mention the knock-on boost for tourism that's likely to follow once the film comes out in April 2020.
As well as the scenes by Matera's grand cathedral and ancient, Unesco-listed cave houses, some sequences will be shot in the neighbouring region of Puglia.
The crew picked Gravina di Puglia in the province of Bari, a town famous for its dramatic two-level Roman bridge spanning a ravine, as the film's second southern Italian location.
Gravina di Puglia. Photo: Depositphotos
Bond is well-travelled in Italy, having had memorable escapades over the years in Venice, Rome, Siena, by Lakes Como and Garda, in the mountains of Cortina D'Ampezzo and on the Sardinian coast, but this is the first time the secret agent has headed to the far south of the mainland.
No Time To Die will also feature locations in Norway, Jamaica and the UK, with a supporting cast that includes Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ben Whishaw as Q, Ralph Fiennes as M, Léa Sedoux as Madeleine Swann, and Rami Malek as the as yet unnamed villain.
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