The virtuous relationship between cinema and tourism is no longer a new concept: the return of tourism beneath the umbrella of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, following a brief separation, is certainly a sip roof of this, on an institutional level, just like its product, the Italy for Movies portal – and the recently built app – which, on one side, provides information tools that are useful for members of the trade and, on the other, invites enthusiasts to learn about and visit the locations of films and TV series.
Thousands of audiovisual and theatrical productions have traipsed around Italy in rotation, some of which have struck the collective imagination of fans to the extent that they have turned the places providing the backdrop to the stories into destinations for enthusiasts.
Without attempting to be exhaustive, we have tried to choose some of them below according to regional diversity, either because they have become iconic or there is evidence of them developing into the targets of movie induced tourism.
RAGUSA AND THE VAL DI NOTO. Some unforgettable scenarios have acted as the backdrop to the investigations of “Inspector Moltalbano”, a character created by the pen of the late lamented Andrea Camilleri, hidden behind the pseudonym of the imaginary Vigata, for years the constant destination of international tourists. Vigata has three faces, the one imagined by readers of the novels, Porto Empedocle in the Agrigento area (the fictitious province of Montelusa) where Camilleri spent his childhood, and the face of the television drama directed by Alberto Sironi, which can be traced to the south-eastern coast of Sicily, studded with Baroque pearls like Ragusa Ibla and the whole Val di Noto. Demonstrating the extraordinary power of images this last face has received a direct spin- off over the 20 years that the drama has been broadcast ascribable to the production phase as well as indirect effects in terms of tourist development, that can be quantified in several billion Euros.
CASTLE DI AGLIÈ. Who could have watched “Elisa di Rivombrosa”, the 2003 cult series by Cinzia TH Torrini, without imagining that they live in the venues inhabited by the beautiful servant, Elisa, who wins the heart of the charming Count Fabrizio Ristori, overcoming various adversities in order to bring her dreams of love to a successful conclusion? The residence of the Ristori family, the owners of the county of Rivombrosa, is the Castello Ducale in Aglié, a palace with an imposing Piedmontese brickwork façade and a grand staircase that overlooks the huge English- style park. The success led to visits to the castle of Aglié rising from 8,549 in the first year the series was aired (2003) to 92,091 in 2004.
MATERA. The fame of the City of the “Sassi” called the “Jerusalem of Italy” because of the many stellar directors and actors who have set Biblical stories there, precedes the notoriety it has achieved for being named the European Capital of Culture 2019.
In 1964 Pier Paolo Pasolini built the sets for his “The Gospel according to Matthew” here.
Since then, the “Sassi” have become Jerusalem many times, reaching their peak 40 years later with “The Passion of the Christ” and Mel Gibson’s touching scenes of the Via Crucis. For the remake of “Ben Hur” in 2016, the crew directed by Timur Bekmambetov spent almost 5 months in the city between set preparations and the filming of the outdoor scenes.
CALA LUNA. The desert island on which Mariangela Melato and Giancarlo Giannini burned with passion in 1974 in “Travolti da un insolito destino nell’azzurro mare di agosto” by Lina Wertmüller is probably one of the best loved beaches by movie tourists.
Obviously we are not on a small island, nor can it be defined as deserted, because the place where the pair are shipwrecked is a collection of pearls on the eastern coast of Sardinia, Cala Fuili, Cala Luna and Capo Comino: three beaches in the Gulf of Orosei which are all a few kilometers apart and which, in the drama, represent a single wild and uncontaminated island.
POLIGNANO A MARE. This town in Puglia set on top of a large rock overlooking the turquoise sea has become well-known also thanks to the numerous productions that have been set in it. In 1968 Monicelli turned it into Sicily for “The Girl with a Pistol”, with a Monica Vitti in a state of grace; in 2009 it provided the backdrop for comic Checco Zalone’s aspirations as a musician in “Cado dalle Nubi” by Gennaro Nunziante; in 2015 it was the setting for the love stories of Riccardo Scamarcio and Laura Chiatti and of the parents, Maria Pia Calzone and Michele Placido, the stars of “Io che amo solo te” by Marco Ponti.
FORT BARD. This fortress in the Val d’Aosta which was rebuilt in the XIX century by the House of Savoy was chosen as the Hydra headquarters in the blockbuster “Avengers: Age of Ultron” by Joss Whedon, screened in movie theaters in 2015. A year after its release, the Associazione Forte di Bard curated an exhibition and proposed an itinerary to discover the world behind the scenes of the movie. The exhibition showcased the original stage costumes and objects, like the scepter of Loki, reconstructions, sound and video effects for reliving the atmos- pheres of the film, unedited backstage footage and exclusive interviews. The exhibition, which ran from May 29, 2016 to January 8, 2017, was one of the most visited events at the Forte (2006) to date, welcoming 49,519 visitors.
CREMA AND THE SURROUNDING AREA. While the book of the same name by Andrè Aciman on which the film “Call me by your name” (2017) is based is set in Liguria, Luca Guadagnino chose the beautiful colors of Crema and its countryside as the setting for the tormented love story between Oliver and Elio.
Regular postcards that have attracted fans and tourists from all over the world, to which some features have been dedicated including a new audio guide of the town and surrounding area and a bicycle/ tandem hire service. An almost unexpected success for this town of 35,000 inhabitants which, in order to make the movie, had to take on € 20,000 of expenditure as a contribution to the production for eliminating the street signs and recreating the atmosphere of 1983 in the center. An expenditure which, at the end of July 2018, had brought around 7,000 tourists to the town exceeding the total figure for 2017 in the space of just 7 months.
TRIESTE. In the 2016 Rai TV series “La porta rossa”, in which inspector Cagliostro (Lino Guanciale) tries to find his own assassin, the city wears its border role in the best way, representing the physical limit between life and death. But Trieste is also Velarchi in the 2006 thriller “The Unknown Woman” by Giuseppe Tornatore, who also returned here in 2013 for “Deception”.
A year later Gabriele Salvatores brought “The invisible boy” to life here, Italian cinema’s first teenage super hero.
Moreover, last spring, the Castle of Miramare and the city center hosted the filming of “The hitman’s bodyguard” directed by Patrick Hughes starring Antonio Banderas, Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek. The return was immediate in terms of tourism to such an extent that the Esterno/Giorno project of the Casa del Cinema in Trieste has proposed some guided itineraries in the wake of the films and TV series for which the city has provided the backdrop.
MONTEPULCIANO. Fans of the literary saga “Twilight”, will remember Volterra as the city of the Volturi, the powerful family of vampires that keeps watch over the anonymity of the species.
However, when the theatrical transposition of the second chapter, “New Moon” (2009), was carried out by Chris Weitz, for set design reasons the production chose the medieval town of Montepulciano for the Italian filming. In 20 years this little town, which also became Florence in the TV series “Medici”, saw the presence of tourists double from 150,000 to 300,000, while the Centro Studi Turistici [Tourist Study Center] of Florence has calculated that almost 2 million visitors invade the town every year, an average of 5,400 a day.
CASTELLABATE. A 2010 remake of the French movie “Welcome to the Sticks”, starring Claudio Bisio and Alessandro Siani, directed by Luca Miniero, transformed the peaceful town of Castellabate, in the Cilento area, into a destination for tourists searching for Piazzetta 10 ottobre 1123 with the famous post office which, nevertheless, does not exist. The “Welcome to the south” effect came in 2011 when visits to the Castello dell’Abate in the historic town center reached 12,400 compared to 3,600 in 2010: car park takings quadrupled and accommodation structures registered increases of over 30%.