Tuscany a location for Oscar-winning films
With its breathtaking views, cities of art, the sea, history and culture, Tuscany has always fascinated great directors, including international ones, who have often chosen it as a film set. Films shot in Tuscany are countless and practically every corner of the region has been immortalized in some film. Films of all genres were set here. Starting from humorous films, such as the mythical trilogy of My Friends, but also thrillers like Hannibal or Angels & Demons, or romantic comedies like Under the Tuscan Sun, which made Cortona famous in the United States, historical films and peripheral fantasy films that here they have found ideal environments, glimpses and panoramas to give strength to the narratives.
Among all the films set in Tuscany, however, there are some that stand out for having won the most coveted award, the Oscar. Let’s see what the scenes that see Tuscany as protagonist are and where they were shot.
- Romeo and Juliet
- A Room with a View
- The English Patient
- Life Is Beautiful
- The Great Beauty
The first film of this review is 8½, the masterpiece of the master of Italian cinema, Federico Fellini. The film immediately achieved great international success and in 1964 it obtained 2 Oscars, one for best foreign film and one for the costumes awarded by Piero Gherardi. Some scenes were shot in the magnificent location of the queen pavilion of the Terme Tamerici in Montecatini. Others, on the other hand, were built in a building inspired by the thermal baths of Chianciano, habitually frequented by Fellini, which was specially built in a wood near Rome.
From the 2 Oscars of 8½, we pass to 3 won in 1966 by the extraordinary Darling of John Schlesinger. This is the story of a social climber, who goes from one love story to another in a continuous social climb that leads her to marry an Italian noble but without achieving true happiness. The great portrayal of the character earned Julie Christie the Academy Award for Best Actress, while Frederic Raphael got the one for the screenplay and Julie Harris won the award for Best Costume Design. The Tuscan protagonist of the film is instead the magnificent Medici Villa of Poggio a Caiano.
Romeo and Juliet (1968)
We play at home with Romeo and Juliet because the director is maestro Franco Zeffirelli, a real Tuscan. For his film adaptation of the famous Shakespearean tragedy, Zeffirelli has chosen a location of great impact such as Palazzo Piccolomini in Pienza, the Renaissance jewel of the Val d’Orcia. In 1969 the film was awarded two 2 Oscars, one for photography by Pasqualino De Santis and one for costumes by Danilo Donati.
1985 was definitely the year of Amadeus, the undisputed masterpiece of Miloš Forman. At the Oscars he collected 11 nominations with 8 statuettes including those for best film, best director and best actor (Murray Abraham); then there are four Golden Globes, four BAFTAs and three David di Donatello… in short, it has full of awards! Tuscany was the background of some scenes that saw the progatonist, Antonio Salieri, on Monte Argentario, in the province of Grosseto.
A Room with a View (1985)
A Room with a View is set in the Florence of the early twentieth century, perfectly framed by a window overlooking the Arno river. Director James Ivory’s celebrated masterpiece won 3 Oscars: Best Non-Original Screenplay, Best Production Design and Best Costumes. History accompanies us among the most beautiful squares of the historic center up to the hill of Fiesole. The famous room with a view instead belonged to the Pensione Bertolini in Lungarno degli Archibusieri.
The English Patient (1996)
With Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient, we take a real tour of Tuscany. The main location of the film is the Monastery of Sant’Anna in Camprena, near Pienza. The monastery is used as a makeshift shelter by the protagonist, an English soldier wounded during the Second World War. Other scenes, always in Val d’Orcia, were shot in Piazza Pio II in Pienza and in the village of Cosona. Versilia is also well represented with the Hotel Principe di Piemonte in Viareggio, used as the set of an English consulate, the beach of Forte dei Marmi and the Cava Niquila in Massaciuccoli. The Basilica of San Francesco in Arezzo is instead the set of one of the main romantic scenes of the film. Some external shots were instead made in Ripafratta, in the province of Pisa. With locations like this, the film could only get plenty of awards: 9 Oscars, 2 Golden Globes, 6 BAFTAs… etc. etc.
Life is Beautiful (1997)
Life is Beautiful, one of the most famous Italian films in the world, was directed and starring Roberto Begnigni, a true Tuscan, who brought 3 Academy Awards to our region. Benigni took home the award for the best leading actor and the best foreign film, while Nicola Piovani got the award for the best soundtrack. It is an unusual film that deals with a very hard theme like that of the Holocaust with a very particular tone halfway between drama and comedy. The success of the film was enormous and between 1998 and 2000 it obtained an infinite number of awards and recognitions. The story takes place between Tuscany and a German concentration camp. The settings chosen are all in the province of Arezzo between the Piazza Grande, the Signorelli Theater in Cortona, the Villa Masini in Montevarchi and Castiglion Fiorentino.
Who does not remember the Gladiator‘s Elysian Field scene? The protagonist, Maximus Decimus Meridius, now dying, imagines returning to his family along a country road. Along the way, you will notice a few trees and all around a wonderful panorama made of rolling hills and wheat fields. We are in Val d’Orcia, to be precise in the locality of Terrapille, not far from Pienza. The gladiator’s house corresponds instead with the Podere di Poggio Manzuoli, which is located in the municipality of San Quirico d’Orcia. The colossal directed by Ridley Scott was one of the greatest cinematrographic successes in history and brought home 5 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor (Russell Crowe), costumes, special effects and best sound.
The Great Beauty (2013)
In 2012, the island of Giglio was involved in the wreck of the cruise ship Costa Concordia. The episode is filmed in the film The great beauty directed by Paolo Sorrentino. Specifically, the protagonist, Jep Gambardella (played by Toni Servillo), goes to the island to make a report on the shipwreck. In addition to the sad wreck of the ship, you can admire some shots of the beautiful Isola del Giglio and the Capel Rosso lighthouse. In 2014 the film received the award for best foreign film at both the Oscars and the Golden Globes, 9 David di Donatello and many other international awards.