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Elementary, my dear Watson. It’s a mystery!

While there are many who hold that the detective story owes its origins to the writing of Edgar Allen Poe, there can be no doubt that Sherlock Holmes, the most famous of investigators, contributed to the genre’s popularity. There are, actually, uncountable numbers of characters that imitate or, to be more generous, are inspired by the legendary deductive genius. From priests obsessed by investigations to globetrotting, older female writers, plus the habitués of provincial bars in the middle of nowhere, the popularity of the genre never seems to fluctuate. In French-speaking countries this genre is known as polar or police procedural and in Anglo-Saxon environments as mystery or crime. In Italy it is known by the name of a colour, giallo (yellow) ever since a brilliant marketing campaign by publisher Mondadori launched the first series of investigative novels in 1929 with an entirely yellow book cover.

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The locations

Campo Imperatore Plateau
Region: Abruzzo Type: Altopiano Territory: montagna, pianura
Region: Umbria Type: Borgo storico Territory: borgo, collina, montagna
Region: Umbria Type: Borgo storico Territory: borgo, campagna, collina
Calascio and the Fortress
Region: Abruzzo Type: Castello Territory: borgo, centro storico, montagna
Castle of Roccascalegna
Region: Abruzzo Type: Castello Territory: borgo, centro storico, montagna
Cinecittà Studios
Region: Lazio Type: Studio di produzione Territory: città, periferia
Region: Umbria Type: Borgo storico Territory: borgo, collina, montagna
Marciana Marina
Region: Toscana Type: Paese Territory: mare
Morrone Mountain Range
Region: Abruzzo Type: Montagne Territory: montagna
Region: Umbria Type: Città Territory: collina
Piazza Duomo - Spoleto
Region: Umbria Type: Città Territory: centro storico

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Palazzo dei Priori – Perugia

The Name of the Rose: from film to TV series

Umberto Eco’s novel Il nome della Rosa has been developed into a film and a TV series. In the former, many of the settings were created by the feted set designer Dante Ferretti who built them in the soundstages of Cinecittà Studios and Fiano Romano. The monastery structure was created by following the map contained in the novel and inspired by Castel del Monte in Apulia. Abruzzo was chosen for the exterior shots: the track followed by Guglielmo and Adso with the mules to reach the Abbey is in the region, in Campo Imperatore near Rocca Calascio. The recent series, meanwhile, used sets in Cinecittà Studios and several natural or real locations, including the evocative Parco del Tuscolo, in the area of Monte Porzio Catone, and Manziana, both municipalities on the outskirts of the metropolitan city of Rome. Shooting also took place in the region of Umbria, in particular in the Church of St. Sylvester and Covered Market of the borgo of Bevagna (province of Perugia) and in the centre of Perugia where the Palazzo dei Priori provided the setting for both the burning of a heretic and the investigations of Bernardo Gui. The region of Abruzzo appeared in this version too, with the Castle of Roccascalegna (province of Chieti), the Hermitage of Santo Spirito in Roccamorice (province of Pescara) and the landscapes of the Gole di Fara San Martino (province of Chieti), setting for Anna’s escape.

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Piazza Grande – Gubbio

Investigating in a cassock

The first 8 seasons of Don Matteo, the TV series starring Terence Hill as a priest with a talent for investigation, were shot in Gubbio (province of Perugia), after which it transferred to Spoleto. For three seasons, Gubbio was never mentioned by the characters in the series, who spoke generally about the ‘town’, with the setting leaving us in no doubt as to the location; it was the writer’s intention to bring the characters to life in a generic town in the province of Umbria. Only starting from the fourth season did the characters start to explicitly mention the town by name. Lots of the winding little streets and piazzas of this Medieval town, so closely linked to the life of Saint Francis of Assisi, were used in filming for the series. The most significant locations include the Collegiate Church of St. John the Baptist and the Church of San Marziale, which provide the exteriors and interiors respectively for Don Matteo’s parish church; Piazza Grande, where the barracks of Marshal Cecchini are located; Palazzo Pretorio, which provides the interior shots; Ranghiasci Park, where Tommasi and Cecchini like to go running. Over the seasons, other locations have been used for filming: from the Abbey of Montecorona to Fossato di Vico the railway station of which was used as Gubbio station in some scenes. More specifically, Assisi features at the beginning of the series, when Don Matteo is told by the bishop that he has been assigned to the parish church of St. John in Gubbio.

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Four friends at the Bar… Lume

Pineta, which lies on the Tuscan coast between Pisa and Livorno, is the imaginary town in which I delitti del Barlume’s characters go about their business. It is around Bar Lume, at the centre of the town’s life, that the protagonists’ stories unfold: the café doesn’t actually exist, but it is reconstructed every year on the coast of Marciana Marina, a picturesque location on the northern coast of Elba Island. The town is actually a tourist resort with gravelled streets and multi-coloured houses, the colours of which are reflected in the turquoise sea. In the shadow of the sixteenth-century Torre della Marina/Torre degli Appiani towering over the port, the bar manager Massimo spends his free time fishing. To the right of the seafront of Marciana Marina is a genuine gem: a granite rock formation and a conglomerate of houses and ladders hide a small natural cove: Borgo al Cotone. Various episodes from the series also see the protagonists taking short trips to Portoferraio and Marina di Campo

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