A journey through film curios for cinema lovers. The Excelsior Palace Hotel in Rapallo was the set for some of the first external film shoots with Battesimo di Nave (1914), played and directed by Giano Paolo Rosmino, a historic name in Italian cinema. For the now virtually lost film Vita Futurista, the brainchild of Marinetti, the father of Futurism, and the painter Balla, amongst others, Arnoldo Ginna chose Caffè Ristorante La Loggia in Florence, in the summer of 1916, as the set for the scene in which the old gentleman is abruptly addressed by the young Futurists, symbolising the contrast between a rearward-looking world and their dynamic new culture. In Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America (1984), the solitary and exquisitely tender dance scene with De Niro and McGovern in the luxury restaurant with all the tables laid was actually shot at the Excelsior in Venice.
The battle scenes in Visconti’s Senso (1954) were filmed around the Antica Locanda Mincio in Valeggio. Hitchcock created some shots for his To Catch a Thief (1955) at the Hotel Bristol in Genoa, and a scene in Mario Monicelli’s The Organizer (1963), with Marcello Mastroianni and Annie Girardot, was played out at Pasticceria Arione in Cuneo. Some memorable scenes in Fellini’s Amarcord (1973) were made at the Grand Hotel in Rimini. Caffè Meletti in Ascoli Piceno formed the backdrop for scenes in Francesco Maselli’s I Delfini (1960), with Claudia Cardinale and for Alfredo, Alfredo by Pietro Germi (1972), with Dustin Hoffman; Caffè Florio in Turin appears in Mario Soldati’s Piccolo Mondo Antico (1941) and in Davide Ferrario’s We All Fall Down (1997); and Caffè Mulassano in Turin was the setting for a scene in Addio Giovinezza (1940) and Dario Argento’s Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971). Again in Turin, the Bicerin appears in the TV drama Amore e Ginnastica (1973) by Luigi Filippo D’Amico, taken from the writings of Edmondo De Amicis, and sequences for Il Grande Torino (2005), a TV drama by Claudio Bonivento on the legendary Torino team killed in the Superga air crash.
Silvio Soldini set a scene in Agata and the Storm (2004) at the Ö Vittoriö restaurant in Recco. At Caffè Fantoni in Villafranca, Fernando Cerchio shot a scene for I quattro del getto tonante (1955), with Andrea Checchi, Massimo Girotti, Tino Carraro and Marcello Marchesi. At Caffè dei Costanti in Arezzo, Roberto Benigni shot the scene of the boy who reads the words “Access forbidden to dogs and Jews” in the Oscar-winning Life is Beautiful (1997); At Barbetta Restaurant in New York, Martin Scorsese set scenes for The Departed (2006), with Leonardo Di Caprio and Jack Nicholson. Grand Hotel & La Pace in Montecatini Terme has been the location for nine films, including Alberto Sordi’s Le vacanze intelligenti (1978), Mario Monicelli’s All My Friends Part II (1982), with Tognazzi and Noiret, and Milano-Palermo: il ritorno (2007), by Claudio Fragasso, with Raul Bova and Giancarlo Giannini. In 1925 Alfred Hitchcock set the brief honeymoon scene of his first feature film, The Pleasure Garden, with Virginia Valli and Miles Mander, in the splendid gardens of the Grand Hotel Villa d’Este in Cernobbio. And it was here that Carlo Lizzani’s Mussolini. The Last Four Days was shot with Rod Steiger and Henry Fonda in the winter of 1974, when the hotel was closed, to ensure the privacy of its guests. The hotel gardens were also used as a setting for the soap opera Beautiful.
Making an exception before the opening, Villa d’Este opened its doors on 29 February 2008 to the troupe of the film The Other Man with Richard Eyre, Liam Neeson, Antonio Banderas, and Laura Linney; some of the scenes were shot at the Hotel Diana Majestic in Milan too. In Leonardo Pieraccioni’s The Cyclone (1996), with Lorena Forteza, Natalia Estrada, Paolo Hendel and Alessandro Haber, the hotel where Levante goes to look for Caterina is the Hotel Cavour in Florence, and the restaurant where Carlina - the superb Tosca D'Aquino - simulates her most unimaginably amorous ardour, is the Angels, just next to the hotel. In 1957 Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones, the lead characters in “A Farewell to Arms”, based on Hemingway’s novel, stayed at the Hotel de La Poste in Cortina d’Ampezzo, and the director, Charles Vidor, shot a scene from the film here. In 2011, Mike Figgis transformed the Grande Albergo Ausonia & Hungaria on the Venice Lido into the set of his wacky film “Hotel”, starring Salma Hayek and John Malkovich.