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In the shadow of Gran Sasso

The region of Abruzzo has more to offer than just winter ski seasons. The cinema industry has been aware of this since the end of the 1940s when many films used the region’s locations. However they tended not to identify the areas which meant that many only learnt their names years later, with big films like Ladyhawke and The Name of the Rose. Despite three national nature reserves, a regional reserve and almost 40 protected nature areas, proud Abruzzo, as Gabriele D’Annunzio (originally from Pescara) would say, is still waiting for her moment of splendour on the big and small screens.

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The locations

Campo Imperatore Plateau
Region: Abruzzo Type: Altopiano Territory: montagna, pianura
Castel Del Monte (AQ)
Region: Abruzzo Type: Borgo storico Territory: borgo, centro storico, montagna
Gran Sasso d’Italia
Region: Abruzzo Type: Montagne Territory: montagna
Region: Abruzzo Type: Città Territory: cittadina

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Castel Del Monte

A killer named Clooney

Based on the book A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth, The American was shot in 2009 in Sweden and Italy. The place in which Pavel, the person who orders the hit, sends Jack, is Castelvecchio Calvisio, a small Abruzzese town in the province of L'Aquila, although the only scene actually filmed there is the scene heralding the arrival of the protagonist. Most of the streets and places the chase scenes take place in can instead be found in Castel del Monte, the ancient and picturesque mountainous centre of Abruzzo. It is here that Jack's various encounters with his priest friend Father Benedetto take place, at the Church of San Marco Evangelista and the park in Viale della Vittoria, and the scene of the procession in Piazza San Rocco was filmed, a scene full of tension in which the killer Mathilde tries to kill Jack once and for all. Another heavily featured location is Sulmona (AQ), where a lot of the encounters with Matilde were filmed and the scenes in the apartment in via Cornacchiola new Clara lives were filmed.

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In praise of family

Four siblings who have moved to Central and Northen Italy with their respective families go back to their hometown, where their elderly parents live, to celebrate Christmas. Once again, the exterior shots of Parenti Serpenti were taken in Sulmona, in the province of L'Aquila, although there are many references to the traditions of Lanciano (CH). The story, told from the point of view of young Mario, opens with a view of the city, from Porta Napoli, which is located in Corso Ovidio: from here, the young boy tells us, you can get straight to Naples and Garibaldi passed through on his way to Caprera. Also in Corso Ovidio is the Church of San Francesco della Scala, built at the behest of the Madonna visiting the town. The old school of the Mauro's mother, Lina, which later becomes the municipal headquarters, is Palazzo Sardi. It is snowing heavily when Mauro and his parents arrive at his grandparents' house, the exteriors of which, visible on several occasions including by night when the four siblings go out for a snowball fight, are those of via Amendola. At midnight, after the Christmas Eve dinner, the group gets ready for Midnight Mass at the Church of Santa Maria di Loreto. In a bar right in the centre of town in Piazza XX Settembre, where there is a statue of the town's most illustrious inhabitant, Ovid, the brothers hold a meeting to decide who will take care of Grandmother Trieste and Grandfather Saverio.

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Campo Imperatore

An Oscar worthy mountain

Abruzzo brought luck to Federico Fellini who came here to shoot various scenes for La strada, later to win Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards of 1957. He chose the area of Ovindoli, with a backdrop of Monte Sirente and the Regional Park of Sirente-Velino, setting for the municipality of Rocca di Mezzo (province of L’Aquila). Here in Piazza Principe di Piemonte, the small town’s largest square, Fellini’s main character Gelsomina, played by his wife Giulietta Masina, displays the signs of her mental instability to Zampanò, an unforgettable Anthony Quinn. Later, the man abandons her on a state road outside the town, leaving her while she sleeps in the open.

The region’s landscapes provided the backdrop for another wandering journey, one with the end goal of a wedding, in The Bride's Journey (Il viaggio della sposa): after spending ten years in the convent of Atri (its exteriors used Abbey of San Giovanni Battista in Lucoli), young Porzia travels to her future husband escorted by an armed contingent that is quickly reduced to a single man, Bartolo. The pair journey through the woods of Corno Grande del Gran Sasso and Piana di Campo Imperatore, between Castel del Monte and Assergi (province of L’Aquila) and those beneath Prati di Tivo, near Pietracamela.

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