Tuscany at the Movies – where to see more of this beautiful land
From the classic cinema of the 1950’s, to Hannibal in 2000, the cities of Florence, Pienza, and Tuscany in general have become an stunning backdrop for beautiful films, and a symbol for the peaceful, unspoilt and natural world of modern Italy.
Tea With Mussolini
Pseudo auto-biographical tale from the early life of director Franco Ziffirelli looks at the life of a bastard son (Charlie Lucas as a child, Baird Wallace as the teen) of an Italian businessman, whose mother has died and is raised by an Englishwoman (Joan Plowright) in pre-WWII Mussolini Italy. Living in an English community in Florence presided over by an ex-diplomat’s wife (Maggie Smith), he and the other Englishwomen live a sheltered existence that they believe is guaranteed protection by Mussolini himself in a tea reception that Smith holds with Il Duce. However, as war breaks out, the women are shuttled away to a camp and then to a guarded hotel. Mixed into this English colony is an outrageous American (Cher), who makes recurrent village appearances in her travels and marriages to wealthy older men. The American has respect for the older women and unbeknownst to them, arranges their transfer and pays their hotel expenses after their capture. The Englishwomen for the most part find her vulgar and try to ignore her. But when America is drawn into the war, she too is placed under protective custody with the Englishwomen. Only then does she discover that her current Italian husband (Paolo Seganti) is really Italian Gestapo who has tricked her into signing over all of her money and art collection to him and is now arranging her death. This forces all to finally work together. Lily Tomlin also makes an appearance as an American lesbian historian doing archaelogical digs and historical studies in the city.
For the American and English communities who have lived in this part of Italy for many years, it was a poignant and moving, at times cutting, observation of the romantic and bohemian ex-patriot view of the Italian way of life.
A Room with a View
Lucy Honeychurch, a young Englishwoman, makes her first visit to Florence, Italy in the early 1900’s. There, she meets a quiet yet eccentric young man named George Emerson. Upon her return to England, Lucy must decide whether to follow through with her marriage to her stotic fiance, Cecil, or follow her heart and her growing attraction to George. Much of the filming was done in one of our top villas: Mangiapane
The English Patient
Filmed in Pienza, in the “Crete Senese” in Southern Tuscany. In a crumbling villa in WWII Italy, during the final days of the European campaign, a young, shell-shocked war nurse (Hana) remains behind to tend her doomed patient – a horribly burned pilot. Through the gradual unraveling of his life and the appearance of an old family friend (Caravaggio) and a young Sikh sapper (Kip), the question of identity is explored.
Under the Tuscan Sun
While on vacation, a just-divorced writer buys a villa in Tuscany on a whim, hoping it will be the start of a change for the better in her life.
Possibly not the best movie ever made, but certainly a magical view of Cortona, and southern Tuscany.
Begins after Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Sir. Anthony Hopkins) escaped from the asylum in Baltimore to Florence, Italy where he has become the one of the curators of the Palazzo Vecchio and has learned to stop eating human flesh all the time. But his cover is broken when cop Rinaldo Pazzi (Giancarlo Giannini) will turn Dr. Lecter over, for money, to his old patient, Mason Verger (Gary Oldman). Mason is a person more twisted and evil than the doctor, because Dr. Lecter made him cut his own face off with a piece of glass and feed it to his dogs. It also caused him to be paralyzed and be on a respirator, which furthered his anger even more. But FBI agent Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore) finds out about Mason’s evil plot to feed Dr. Lecter to a bunch of man-eating hogs and will do anything to make sure that Mason doesn’t succeed.
Other recent films shot it Italy:
Directed by Ridley Scott
A Midsummer Night’s Dream(1999)
Directed by Michael Hoffman
La Vita è bella, (1997)
Directed by Roberto Benigni
The Portrait of a Lady, (1996)
Directed by Jane Campion