How many stories of love and passion have been set in the cities, squares, castles, mountains and beaches of Italy? The big screen has told many, with something for every taste: imaginary or real, epic or immortal, historical or contemporary. Was it always eternal love? We can’t be sure of that. However, we hope that the beauty in the background will live forever.Print itinerary
The Rome made famous by La Dolce Vita is a nostalgic and decadent city. Set in the early 1960s, via Veneto is thronged with a range of worldly characters, the famous and lesser-known faces of divas, stars, nobles, the wealthy and, of course, the paparazzi. Marcello, an unscrupulous tabloid reporter and aspiring writer, covers the parties, the excesses and the nightlife, inevitably ending up taking part himself. Fellini gives us one of most memorable scenes that cinema can remember when the diva Anita Ekberg comes across the Trevi fountain, after spinning through the alleyways of the historical centre at night. Stunned by its beauty (how to disagree?) she is unable to resist walking into the water, taking Marcello with her: they kiss. And the scene became a legend.
Set in the Middle Ages, this story follows cursed lovers, Etienne (Rutger Hauer) and Isabeau (Michelle Pfeiffer). They seemed destined never to meet until a solar eclipse breaks the spell for she, Ladyhawke, is a falcon by day and he a wolf at night. France provides the background for this adventurous story which used many Italian locations in Lombardy (Rocca Sforzesca in Soncino) Emilia (Castello di Torrechiara, Castell’Arquato), Lazio (the Aqueduct in Monterano, Basilica di San Pietro in Tuscania) and Friuli (the Dolomites). Probably the most inspiring of settings is in Abruzzo, in the province of L’Aquila: the falcon is wounded on the vast plains of Campo Imperatore and treated by a hermit in Rocca di Calascio. The happy ending is guaranteed, as in all fairy tales worthy of the name.
A hell that turns out to be a paradise. That is the experience of the frivolous bourgeois character played by Mariangela Melato and the impatient communist sailor played by Giancarlo Giannini in Swept Away. Shipwrecked because of her tantrum, they wash up on an island which is actually a grouping of pearls on the eastern coast of Sardinia, Cala Fuili, Cala Luna and Capo Comino: these three beaches, situated within several kilometres of each other in the Gulf of Orosei, together represent the single, wild island of pristine nature in the film. Here Gennarino gets his own back, as he finds shelter and manages, with “good manners”, to make Raffaella more collaborative. The attraction between the two is inevitable. Although they return to real life when the fairy story ends, and to their previous roles, their shared experience has changed them both.
André Aciman’s originally intended the setting for the love story between Elio and Oliver in Call me by your name to be Bordighera, a town on the Riviera di Ponente in Liguria. However, Luca Guadagnino chose the evocative colours of the Crema countryside. This does not matter much: there may be no seaside, but there is still a historical residence, the Villa Albergoni di Moscazzano, a sun-drenched landscape, evenings spent with friends, adolescent fears and the sleepy afternoons of a hot summer of the early 1980s. This is the starting point for the main characters’ bike rides to Crema and its surroundings. They take us to piazza Duomo and the arco del Torrazzo and to visit the ancient part of the town, with a short trip to Pandino, dominated by its Visconti Castle. They also visit the fontanili di Capralba with its natural springs, in particular the fontanile Quarantina, in the village of Farinate, which Elio confesses is where he escapes to read and where he steals a first kiss from Oliver. The summers come and go, the nostalgia stays.
Sofia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, the golden couple of a certain genre of Italian cinema, have kissed many times in the numerous films that they have acted in together. However, these have not always been stories of love running smooth, which is the case with the film set in a Naples tinged with nostalgia. Filumena Marturano is a cunning ex-prostitute who tricks Domenico, an impenitent womanizer and her lover of twenty years, into a Marriage Italian Style. Palazzo Pandola, the central location for this story of argument and repentance written by the genius Eduardo de Filippo and directed by Vittorio De Sica, looks over the splendid piazza del Gesù Nuovo, dominated by the central obelisk of the Immmacolata and by the unmistakeable and mysterious rusticated ashlar facade of the church that gives the square its name. After so much tribulation, how wonderful it is to cry (with happiness).
This love story ends amidst the inlets of the Adige on the site of the ancient city of Verona. Here the two most famous lovers in history come to an end, Romeo and Juliet. For his film, Zeffirelli used multiple historical villages in Tuscany, Lazio and Umbria to represent Medieval Verona. The inciting incident takes place at a party in the Capulet residence, Palazzo Piccolomini in Pienza. However, when a love-struck Romeo climbs the high walls of a building to talk to a dreamy Juliet on the balcony, we are suddenly at the Palazzo Borghese in Artena. There are duels in the historical centre of Gubbio and a tragic epilogue in the crypt of the Basilica di San Pietro in Tuscania where, several scenes earlier, the two young lovers were secretly joined in marriage. Their impossible love has made them two immortal lovers.