I love filming in Tuscany for so many reasons! First of all, it is outstandingly beautiful wherever you look. And then there’s the people: the old spirit of hospitality is alive and well and like all Italians, Tuscans are welcoming and willing to help.
It’s a country where craftsmanship is really strong. As a filmmaker, if you need something built for a set, costumes made or just a quick repair, it’s so easy to find someone who really knows their craft.
3 REASONS TO FILM IN SMALL TUSCAN TOWNS
The little medieval, hill-top towns of Tuscany are pure beauty. Every little piazza, bend in the road, archway and corner has a charm all its own. The squares are natural stages, the facades of the old palazzo’s natural backdrops. From TV commercials to fashion shoots, these little towns are spectacular locations.
For each of the international airports in Tuscany - Florence and Pisa - there are so many stunning little villages within a one-hour drive. In these towns and villages, film permits are often free and moving gear and lights to and from location is much simpler than in larger cities. Accommodation is easy to find and at a better price. And feeding crews is so convenient because there’s always a great trattoria nearby prepared to cater a good lunch at a reasonable price.
The Medici (Netflix), which is now in its third series, is an example of a production that chose small towns to film in rather than the more obvious location of Florence. They filmed in Volterra, Montepulciano, Pistoia and Pienza, amongst others, with only a few key scenes filmed in Florence where they needed iconic locations such as the Palazzo Vecchio or Duomo. The great thing about Tuscany is that renaissance and medieval architecture is everywhere! You don’t have to stay in the great cultural centres, you can find it in hundreds of small towns all over the region.
Why break the budget to film in cities like Milan, Naples, Rome and Florence, if you don’t need to? We recently filmed a commercial set in a typical Italian café, in a tiny village in Northern Tuscany. The Producer had originally asked for a location in Milan, thinking that the café’s there must be really typically Italian and Milan is easy to get to. Two good reasons but wrong in terms of production logistics.
Famous Movies Filmed in Tuscany
If someone were to ask you for the names of films set in Tuscany, you’d probably think of Under the Tuscan Sun, Room with a View, The English Patient and perhaps even Hannibal.
But did you know that in the Bond film Quantum of Solace there is a scene and a car chase set in the white marble caves of Carrara? And what about The Twilight Saga? In the second novel of the series by Stephenie Meyer, and also the film based on the novel, Volterra is the home of an ancient family of vampires, the Volturi.
A Production that We Filmed in Tuscany
We were contacted by a Finnish production company, Also Starring, because they wanted to film a commercial for a Finnish pizza restaurant chain and Producer Ville Salminen wanted to evoke a rural Italian past, with a typical old-fashioned pizzeria in a medieval village. We found the perfect location, Colle di Buggiano, a picturesque Tuscan village with a great pizzeria, Antico Colle, where they cook pizzas in a wood-fired oven.
When the Director first saw the village, he was stunned and said ‘But it’s a movie set!’ The village square is overlooked at one end by a church, with the restaurant on one side and old palazzo’s flanking the other sides. The square really does feel like a stage on which daily life is acted.
There was just one problem! It was in the run-up to Christmas and in the few days between my scout and the arrival of the crew, the village had set up the most enormous Christmas tree I have ever seen right in front of the Church obscuring the view of this lovely old building. Aargh! ‘We have to get rid of that tree,’ said the Director. Now, in any major city, moving an enormous tree would involve overcoming all sorts of bureaucratic and logistic hurdles. But in a little village in Italy, it’s different. A quick visit to the Mayor, and a call to a builder’s yard, and within a couple of hours the tree had been removed and at minimal cost. It was replaced immediately after filming and everyone was happy, crew and villagers alike!
The talent consisted of 3 actors and 50 extras, all recruited locally, and their costumes, make-up and hair were done by professionals locally. We put together a highly professional Italian TV crew and organized equipment hire for all the lighting and grip gear. As their production manager, our function was to manage the budget, and come up with creative solutions. For example, the scenes set in an airplane were filmed in a coach, and the scene with the principal actor in Finland, was green-screened in a local studio.