Lombardy’s breathtaking scenery has served as the backdrop for many international and independent films. Action!
Through the years Lombardy has been the set of many films. Apart from the many films set in Milan.
Plenty have been filmed in more provincial, domestic and modest settings and in the aristocratic and grand historical villas on the lakes.So let’s begin with the villas of delight that have been the backdrop of famous films.
In 1932 the historic Grand Hotel in Tremezzo became the title of an American film directed by Edmond Goulding, with a star-studded cast: Greta Garbo, John Barrymore and Joan Crawford. Ten years later, in the more sombre Villa Pliniana, in Torno, on Lake Como, Mario Soldati filmed Malombra, an adaptation of the book with the same name by Antonio Fogazzaro.
But it was George Lucas’s decision in 2002 to use Villa del Balbianello in Lenno – which has since been acquired by the FAI, the Italian National Trust – to film the famous kiss between Anakin Skywalker and Princess Amidala in the second episode of the Star Wars saga, that made the villas and historical houses in the region so popular with international directors and writers.
Many scenes in Ocean’s Twelve (2004), directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta Jones, take place on Lake Como. The cast and crew were guests at their co-star George Clooney’s Villa Oleandra, in Laglio, during shooting. The villas in Cernobbio are also featured in The Luzhin Defence (2001) directed by Marleen Gorris, starring John Turturro and Emily Watson, which was filmed in Villa Erba, and the thriller The Other Man (2008) directed by Richard Eyre, starring Liam Neeson, Laura Linney and Antonio Banderas, is set in the beautiful Villa d’Este.
As far back as 1984 the region’s villas were appearing on the big screen thanks to the scenes filmed at Villa Melzi d’Eril in Bellagio for Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America. The villa’s beauty and the breathtaking scenery captured everyone’s imagination, Robert De Niro included. The charming towns of Varenna and Villa Monastero on the shores of Lake Como are the perfect backdrops to the dreamy Uomo d’acqua dolce (1996) by Antonio Albanese, who directed and starred in it. Just two years earlier, in 1994, Come due coccodrilli, an elegant comedy directed by Giacomo Campiotti, starring Giancarlo Giannini, Fabrizio Bentivoglio and Valeria Golino, was filmed in the province of Lecco, in the town of Lierna.
The charming town of Pavia, with its towers, the university’s courtyards and covered bridge was the perfect background for the cinematic adaptation of Nikolaj Gogol’s novel The Overcoat (1952) directed by Alberto Lattuada and starring Renato Rascel; and for Love and Fear (1988), an adaptation of Anton Cechov’s play Three Sisters, directed by Margarethe Von Trotta, starring Fanny Ardant, Greta Scacchi and Valeria Golino; and the mystery/drama Ghost of Love (1981) directed by Dino Risi, starring Marcello Mastroianni and Romy Schneider.
In the nearby farms and woods of the Ticino, Vittorio de Sica shot his drama Sunflower (1970) starring Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren. Some of the scenes were shot on the iconic floating bridge of Bereguardo. Another floating bridge, the one in Torre d’Oglio, in the province of Mantua, appears in the film Radiofreccia (1998) directed by singer Luciano Ligabue.
Cremona’s historical town centre with its Duomo, the Torrazzo and the Broletto set the scene for Alessandro D’Alatri’s The Fever (2004) starring Fabio Volo and Valeria Solarino, and for the thriller La cura del gorilla (2006) written and directed by Sandrone Dazieri. Ermanno Olmi filmed his 2001 film The Profession of Arms in both the Castle in Mantua and Rocca Sforzesca in Soncino.
In 2009 he returned to the region to film his documentary Rupi di Vino set in the wineries of Valtellina.The Milanese poet and photographer Antonia Pozzi and her dramatic, tumultuous life, culminating in her suicide in 1938, inspired two documentaries (Poesia che mi guardi, 2009, and Il cielo in me, 2014) and a film (Antonia, 2016) set in Valsassina, in the town of Pasturo, where the Pozzi family owned their summer residence.