- Art & Culture
Masterpieces of cinema shot in Lombardy
Lombardy in auteur cinema: from Vittorio de Sica to Luca Guadagnino, many directors have selected our region for the setting of unforgettable films.
Lombardy in contemporary cinema
A great many films have been filmed in Lombardy's cities, countryside, and buildings. Recent and classic masterpieces of both Italian and international cinema, belonging to every genre and era, have been set against the mountainous panoramas of the Alps, the planes of Bassa Padana, rivers immersed in Lombardy's mists, and the glistening waters of Lakes Como, Lecco, and Varese...
Among Lombardy's cities, Milan stands out with its Duomo, the Navigli di Leonardo, its central station, and its old and new architecture, all of which have served as a backdrop for comedies, stories of the criminal underworld, detective stories, and dramas by true masters of cinema such as De Sica, Visconti, and many more.
And then there is Bergamo, with its countryside and farmsteads, which provided an unforgettable backdrop for "L'Albero degli Zoccoli" ("The Tree of Wooden Clogs"), by Ermanno Olmi (1978), who portrayed his rural origins on the big screen. And let's not forget Crema and Lodigiano, as well as Mantua with its flat terrain, which feature in the nostalgic films of Bernardo Bertolucci...
Finally, the lakes and the historic villas on their shores, such as Villa d'Este in Cernobbio, on lake Como, or Villa del Balbianello in Lenno, also on Lake Como, which have provided glamorous settings for unforgettable Hollywood films.
Listing all the films that feature Lombardy as a location would be a difficult task: the number of films shot in our region exceeds one thousand. And if cinema is your true passion, you can find a selection of them in the 2016 publication of the Region of Lombardy: "Lombardy the Superstar: A region in 100 films".
In the meantime, here are some suggestions to satisfy your curiosity and showcase the beautiful natural landscapes and urban scenery of Lombardy that can be seen in cinema, the most contemporary art form.
A cinematic tour of a forgotten Milan
In 1951, with his film "Miracolo a Milano" ("Miracle in Milan") (1951) the great Vittorio De Sica declared his love for the city and its most unfortunate inhabitants: the poor citizens who lived in shacks between Lambrate and Forlanini. Adapted from the novel "Totò il buono” by Cesare Zavattini, the film features an unforgettable scene, during which Totò flies over the Duomo on a broomstick with the beautiful Edvige.
In 1960, Luchino Visconti shot "Rocco and his brothers", inspired by the stories of Giovanni Testori in "Il Ponte della Ghisolfa", in the Milanese suburbs. Set against the backdrop of Milan just before the economic boom, a family of migrants from Lucania experiences their own troubles. A magnificent Alain Delon (Rocco) looks over the steeples of the Duomo with Annie Girardot (Nadia, the fiancée).
"Tell me: if the Milanese can't see when it's foggy, how can they see that there is fog in Milan?" a witty Totò asks Peppino, as he arrives in Milan from Naples. This is one of the most famous scenes of "Totò, Peppino e la... malafemmina" ("Totò, Peppino and the Hussy"), a comedy of 1956 directed by Camillo Mastrocinque.
The most famous settings in Bassa Lombarda
Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, "900" (1976) was also filmed in Lombardy, in the Mantua area, despite being set in Emilia. Many of the scenes were shot at the Santuario delle Grazie in Curtatone, in the old cemetery of Poggio Rusco, in Palazzo Canossa, and in Mantua's historical square.
The enchanting scenery of Eastern Lombardy provided a backdrop for Luca Guadagnino's most recent Oscar-nominated film "Chiamami col tuo nome" ("Call Me By Your Name") (2016), which was shot mainly in and around Crema, as well as Bergamo, Lodi, and the Serio Falls. Offering a background to an iconic scene, the Renaissance gateway of Crema, the Torrazzo and its square, has become famous all over the world.
Cinema stars among the reflections of Lake Como
The stunning natural locations and architectural gems that embellish the shores of Lake Como appear as guests of honour in many films. The stunning Villa Erba provides a backdrop for a climactic scene in Soderbergh's "Ocean's Twelve" (2004): the meeting between the rival thieves played by Vincent Cassel and George Clooney. And it is well known that, having fallen in love with the landscape, Clooney purchased the nearby Villa Laglio.
The eighteenth-century Villa del Balbianello was chosen as a setting for one of the most famous scifi sagas of all time, Star Wars, specifically "Star Wars Episode II - The Attack of the Clones" by George Lucas (2002). Lake Como, as well as the gardens and terraces of the villa, were used to depict the fantasy planet of Naboo. The gorgeous villa also appeared in Martin Campbell's "Casino Royale" (2006), which followed the adventures of agent 007, played by Daniel Craig.
Contemporary cinema in the North: Bergamo, Brescia, and Varese
In "Colpire al cuore" ("Blow to the Heart") (1982), a film about the harrowing years of terrorism, Gianni Amelio set the intense encounter between his protagonists, a father and son, in Bergamo, against the poetic backdrop of Piazza Vecchia and the Contarini fountain, Porta Nuova, and Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII in the lower town.
"Quando sei nato non puoi più nasconderti" ("Once You're Born You Can No Longer Hide") (2005) is a controversial film by Marco Tullio Giordana that tells the complex story of a rich family from Brescia struggling with young illegal migrants. It is set against the backdrop of Brescia's most beautiful piazzas, Piazza Vittoria and Piazza della Loggia.
And, finally, Lombardy and its surroundings was chosen by Paolo Virzì for his film "Il Capitale umano" ("Human Capital") (2013), the story of two families from Brianza whose stories become intertwined. In the film, the disused Politeama Theatre in Como, which is still unfortunately in ruins, makes a stand-out cameo between scenes shot in Varese, Lecco, and Pavia.