Action! An Oscar Tuscany21 March 2019

Action! An Oscar Tuscany

Val d’Orcia as place of great international films

Tuscany, among all the Italian regions, is certainly one of the most “photogenic” also thanks to its hilly and gentle appearance, lending well to being immortalized by directors and photographers.

One of the most famous films, shot near Pienza, is “The Gladiator”, winner in 2001 of 5 Oscar awards. The protagonist’s house rises in the splendid landscapes of the Val d’Orcia, among rows of cypresses and soft expanses of wheat. And it is always here, between San Quirico d’Orcia and Pienza, that Ridley Scott shot the final sequence of the Elysian Fields. What background could be more perfect and heavenly than the rolling Tuscan hills to accompany this text where life on earth is approached to a dimension without space and time? The challenge was to look for a place that looked like a paradise, even on earth. Tuscany has been chosen, with the sweetness and charm of its territory. We are between San Quirico d’Orcia and Pienza, precisely in Terrapille, where the troupe spent two weeks working on the scene in the Elysian Fields, without the presence of the main actor, who did not set foot in Tuscany for the film. A landscape made up of meadows and hills, of soft streets that wind up on an enchanting and poignant background, just like the phrases that accompany the images.

Action! An Oscar Tuscany

Another award-winning film set in the Sienese countryside is “The English Patient” (1996) by Anthony Minghella. To act as a common thread to the flashbacks, on which the film is built, are in fact the scenes shot in the evocative Monastery of Sant’Anna in Camprena. The director has also set the party for the end of the war in the central square of Pienza. Adjacent to Piazza Pio II is Palazzo Piccolomini, transformed in 1968 by Franco Zeffirelli into the Capulet residence for the film adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet”. Even the most recent “Letters to Juliet” film by Gary Winick in 2010 with Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave recorded several scenes in Vagliagli near Pienza.

In “007 – Quantum of Solace” (2008), the most famous secret agent of the cinema stopped in Siena. The Sienese and tourists remember the breathtaking chase on the rooftops of the historic city center and the daring escape during the Palio in Piazza del Campo.

For fans of “Twilight” instead, an unmissable stop is Montepulciano: visiting Piazza Grande, it is easy to recognize the scenario of the emotional embrace between Edward and Bella of the episode “New Moon” (2009).

Action! An Oscar Tuscany

San Gimignano, an evocative village for its 14 towers, is one of the Sienese spots preferred by the cinema. Although it has a special charm, the town has often been used to represent other localities: an example is the film “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” (1972), a feature film about the life of Saint Francis, Zeffirelli transforms San Gimignano into Assisi. In 1999 the illustrious Tuscan director found the inspiration to shoot the autobiographical “Tea with Mussolini“.

In the province of Siena there are numerous thermal springs immersed in a unique landscape. Struck by the striking scenery of Bagno Vignoni, Russian director Andreij Tarkovskij has set many of the scenes of “Nostalghia” (1983). For those who want to immerse themselves in the dreamlike atmosphere of Federico Fellini, instead, the obligatory stop is Chianciano Terme, director’s heart spot, who not by chance has turned here his masterpiece “8½”.

The last international film we want to remember is “A room with a view” (1985), the masterpiece of James Ivory, winner of three Academy Awards and half-filmed in Florence. The caste and at the same time scandalous love story between the two young protagonists of the film, Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter) and George Emerson (Julian Sands), begins in Florence in a hotel in the historic center, then have a second part set in England. Contrary to what we think, the final scene of the kiss between the two lovers was not turned in the center of Florence but in the hills around Fiesole just outside the city.