Hollywood's Love Affair with Italy: From "Ripley" to "White Lotus"

By Ivan PetrenkoApr 13, 2024 16:30 PMNews
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Venice grand canal, Italy
Venice grand canal, Italy. Source: unsplash

Italy has long been a favored destination for filmmakers, enchanting audiences with its romantic cities, evocative landscapes, and sparkling seas. The country’s cinematic allure is once again in the spotlight with the new Netflix series "Ripley," which tours some of Italy's most iconic locations such as Rome, Venice, and Capri. Inspired by Patricia Highsmith's "The Talented Mr. Ripley," the series is poised to ignite a new wave of set-jetting tourism.

Historically, Italy’s picturesque settings have been integral to films ranging from Hollywood blockbusters to intimate food documentaries. Film historian Nicola Bassano reflects on Italy’s magnetism, noting that its landscapes have captivated millions globally, often framed in ways that blend the comical with the grotesque, influenced by Federico Fellini’s satirical depiction in "La Dolce Vita."

For travelers seeking to experience Italy’s famed locales without the crowds, here are some tips on how to delve into the authentic heart of these often-visited spots:

Rome’s Cinematic Charm Rome has served as a backdrop for numerous films, from the epic "Gladiator" to the charming "Roman Holiday." While the Colosseum and Spanish Steps are must-visits, one can escape the typical tourist paths by exploring underground tours of the Colosseum or savoring a moment at Babington’s Tea Rooms near the Spanish Steps, where Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck once dazzled viewers.

Venice: A Thriller’s Paradise Venice, known for its mysterious and shifting canals, has starred in various thrillers like "Don't Look Now" and "The Tourist." To avoid the well-trodden routes, consider visiting less-known sites like Palazzo Grimani or the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, adorned by Tintoretto’s art. The Venice Lido offers a quieter side of the city, famous for the Venice Film Festival and its historic Excelsior hotel.

Cinque Terre: Beyond the Stereotypes Cinque Terre, with its dramatic coastlines and rustic charm, offers a break from the typical portrayals of Italy. The area is celebrated not just in Hollywood films but also in animations like Pixar’s "Luca," which presents a more nuanced view of Italian life. The reopening of the Via dell’Amore offers a unique way to experience these villages, combining scenic beauty with cultural insights.

By approaching these destinations with a desire to explore beyond the typical tourist experiences, visitors can discover the genuine spirit of Italy that continues to inspire filmmakers and travelers alike. Whether it’s sipping locally-produced wines in Cinque Terre or uncovering historical layers in Rome, Italy offers endless opportunities to create one's own cinematic moments.

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