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Historical drama

TV dramas manage to make us fall in love with their characters more bindingly than films, probably due to their length and duration. They also offer us another merit that should be recognised, the opportunity of rediscovering stories of the past. When stories are rooted in real life events, it does not matter whether they have been partially reworked because they have already sparked our fascination about something we didn’t know or had forgotten. This is why historical drama should be praised for filling the gaps in our knowledge of important past events or of the people who contributed to the history of the country.

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The locations

Castle of Santa Severa
Region: Lazio Type: Castello Territory: borgo, mare
Florence Cathedral
Region: Toscana Type: Basilica/Duomo/Collegiata Territory: centro storico
Region: Toscana Type: Città Territory: città
Region: Toscana Type: Borgo storico Territory: collina
National Museum of Bargello
Region: Toscana Type: Museo Territory: città
Palazzo Vecchio – Firenze
Region: Toscana Type: Palazzo Territory: centro storico
Region: Umbria Type: Città Territory: collina
Villa d'Este – Tivoli
Region: Lazio Type: Villa Territory: campagna
Region: Toscana Type: Borgo storico Territory: collina

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Orsini Odescalchi Castle – Bracciano

Great houses, great responsibilities

Medici: Masters of Florence, the Anglo-Italian series with the star-studded cast was recently crowned the best known Italian drama abroad. Set in the Renaissance, its main characters are the members of Florence’s foremost family. The first season focuses on Cosimo as he deals with the tricky task of becoming the patriarch on the death of his father, Giovanni. .Florence is naturally at the centre of everything that happens to the family. The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, which Brunelleschi, at the wishes of Cosimo, is furnishing with a futuristic dome, stands out in the background of several scenes. As well as inside the Cathedral and the Baptistery, some of the sets make use of Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo del Bargello. But to reconstruct the buildings and streets of 15th century Florence, the production team needed to use a number of locations in and around Tuscany and Lazio. For example, Piazza Grande in Montepulciano is used to recreate Piazza della Signoria in Florence: a building site set up in front of the Duomo alludes to work on the lavish Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, while the façade of Palazzo Piccolomini in Pienza is used as the exterior of Palazzo Medici and its town hall is used as the Medici Bank, which was the biggest bank in Europe in the 15th century. The Orsini Odescalchi Castle in Bracciano was an important location for the series: here, in the first episode, Giovanni and his sons Cosimo and Lorenzo go to the home of Cardinal Baldassarre Cossa to negotiate the support of the Medici for the upcoming conclave. Its Sala della Scienza was used as the private apartments for the future Pope; the Sala del Trittico as the location for the marriage negotiation and later the banquet for the nuptials between Cosimo and Contessina de’ Bardi; the engagement celebrations took place in the Sala Orsini. The exterior of the sumptuous Castle of Santa Severa on the northern coast of Lazio, which dates back to the 14th century, is used as the residence of Cardinal.

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Villa d'Este – Tivoli

Lorenzo becomes the Magnificent

The focus of the second season of the series entitled Medici: The Magnificent is Lorenzo, son of Piero the Gouty. It takes place 20 years later in the second half of the 1400s. A great art lover, Lorenzo was already a prolific patron of talented artists as a young man: a scene set in a room in the Palazzo dei Medici sees him conversing with Botticelli and Poliziano. This was shot in the Sala della Fontana in Villa d’Este, Tivoli (RM). Locations in Florence included the Basilica of San Lorenzo in particular, which the family commissioned from Brunelleschi in 1418. The facade of Palazzo dei Priori in Volterra (PI) stood in for Palazzo Vecchio with its Sala del Maggior Consiglio the location for the meetings of the Consiglio dei Priori, which historically took place in the Sala dei Duecento in the Palazzo Vecchio during Medici rule. In the opening scene of the first episode, Lorenzo and Giuliano leave for Florence on horseback. The villa they depart from is the Palazzina Gonzaghesca in Bosco Fontana (MN). As the Vatican’s bankers, the members of the Medici family are in constant contact with the highest ranks of the clergy. The facade of the Palazzo Apostolico in Rome is actually that of the Palazzo dei Papi in Viterbo, recognisable by its splendid Loggia delle Benedizioni. The interiors of the Vatican are those of the Palazzo Ducale in Mantova. In particular, the Sala del Manto was used as the setting for the papal throne when Francesco della Rovere is crowned Pope Sixtus IV. To save his bank, Lorenzo is forced to make an alliance with Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza. The Porta Imperiale of Sabbioneta (MN) served as the entrance into Milan, and through a feat of editing, the Castle of St. George in Mantova can be glimpsed in the background disguised as the imagined Sforza Castle of the 1400’s. The castle interiors where the life of the Milanese court takes place, including the wedding of little Caterina Sforza, the Duke’s illegitimate daughter, to 30 year old Girolamo Riario, are those of Palazzo Te in Mantova. Caterina’s wedding banquet takes place in the Sala dei Cavalli while the assassination of Galeazzo Maria Sforza was shot in Mantova at the Rotonda of San Lorenzo, although the historical event actually took place in the Church of St. Stephen in Milan.

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From kisses to angora cardigans

In contrast, the drama about Luisa Spagnoli the woman who invented first the chocolate “Bacio Perugina” and then a fashion house in her name, is an homage to Perugia. The laboratory where Luisa began making sugared almonds and chocolate was recreated in via Rocchi in Umbria’s main city. Here she invented the chocolate first known as “Cazzotto” (punch) for its fist like shape and later given the more harmonious name of “Bacio” (kiss). Luisa meets Ada near the Maggiore Fountain in Piazza IV Novembre and her future husband Annibale on the steps of Sant’Ercolano. The pair become a couple in Villa Aureli Park in Via dei Cirenei, and go to live in Via del Lauro. Palazzo Oddi, in Via dei Priori, the headquarters of the Marini Clarelli Santi Foundation is, in the series, the home of Leandro, while the location used for the Circolo della Nobilità was Piazza Piccinino and Palazzo Danzetta. Other parts of the city used in the series are the Morlacchi Theatre, the grand cemetery and Monte Malbe, used as the viewpoint of the Umbrian town. Other locations around Perugia that were used for the series include Umbertide, Sant’Arcangelo di Magione (the location of the park on the lake in Passignano sul Trasimeno), Borgo Colognola (casa Sargentini) and Corciano, where Mariella Spagnoli, Luisa’s niece, made her own home available to the production team (used for Luisa and Giovanni’s love nest). 

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