Explore the hidden beauties of Tuscany by visiting famous movie locations around the region

Lights, camera, Tuscany!

Flavia Cori byFlavia Cori

Famous film directors as Ron Howard, Roberto Benigni, Kenneth Branagh and Matteo Garrone chose Tuscany as a movie set. Their stories have left an indelible mark and have become real itineraries for travellers to follow. Today we choose their fantastic stories to explore some of the hidden beauties of Tuscany.  

Tale of Tales: Sammezzano Castle and Vie Cave

Do you remember that scene with Salma Hayek devouring the dragon’s heart in the Tale of Tales? It was filmed at Castello di Sammezzano, near Florence, like many other scenes of the Queen story. Tale of Tales (Italian: Il racconto dei racconti) is a 2015 European dark fantasy film, directed by Matteo Garrone, starring Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel, Toby Jones, and John C Reilly. It’s divided into three chapters (or stories): The Queen, the Flea and the Two Old Women.

Sammezzano Castle was built in 1605 with funds from Spanish nobility for Ximenes of Aragon. Then it was inherited by Ferdinand Panciatichi Ximenes and re-designed between 1853 and 1889. Despite some urgent restoration work in 1999, it has been largely abandoned and closed to the public. Unfortunately, Sammezzano Castle is now closed to the public, check out our dedicated article for more info.

Sammezzano Castle
A view of Sammezzano Castle

We travel from Florence to Grosseto to discover one of the locations of The Flea. Do you remember the chase scene between the ogre and the princess? It was filmed in the Vie Cave near Pitigliano, Grosseto.

The Vie Cave are incredibly narrow paths that the Etruscans dug into the tuff (tufa) stone, in the Maremma area, maybe as specially designed channels to bring water from the planes to the valleys or simple roads for the transportation of goods and information. Whatever the purpose was, nobody knows how the Etruscans dug out these mysterious passageways.

Life is beautiful: Arezzo city centre and Villa Masini

Life is Beautiful is a 1997 Italian comedy-drama film directed by and starring Roberto Benigni. Benigni plays Guido Orefice, a Jewish Italian bookshop owner who uses his imagination to shield his son from the horrors of internment in a Nazi concentration camp. Have you fallen in love with the Dora and Guido story? If you travel to Arezzo you can relive their romance.

Piazza Grande (Arezzo city) is the most noteworthy medieval square in the city. With many cafes and restaurants nearby, the area provides a great place to slow down to the Italian pace of life. Every first weekend of the month it hosts the Antique Market: one of the best antique fairs in Tuscany and the first market of its kind to be established in Italy in 1968.

Arezzo's Piazza Grande
Arezzo's Piazza Grande - Credit: Stefano Cannas - Visit Tuscany Social media team

Strolling through the streets of the city center you can reach Caffè dei Costanti, founded in 1804 as a place for the most important aristocratic families. In the years after the unification of Italy, it became a lively meeting place open to all.

In Montevarchi, 40 km far from Arezzo, you find Villa Masini: a beautiful Art Nouveau-style villa. It was built in 1924-27 by Giuseppe Petrini, on behalf of Angiolo Masini to celebrate the family fortune gained from the thriving hat factory. Every year, from April to October, it offers a calendar of special openings and guided tours. For info check Villa Masini Facebook Page.

Inferno: Florence

Filmed in Florence in 2015, Inferno is a mystery thriller film directed by Ron Howard, based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Dan Brown. The movie is the sequel to The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, and stars Tom Hanks, reprising his role as Robert Langdon.

Robert Langdon wakes up in a hospital room in Florence, Italy, with no memory of what has transpired over the last few days. To solve the riddle he runs through some of the most popular sites in Florence together with Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones): from the Boboli Gardens to the Vasari Corridor, from the Uffizi, passing through Palazzo Vecchio (for one of the most exciting scenes) to finally reach the Baptistery. What’s he looking for? We can’t tell you any more. Just “seek and find”. For those interested in guided tours, Palazzo Vecchio organizes a 75 minutes Inferno tour “in the footsteps of Robert Langdon”.

Inferno movie in Florence
Inferno movie in Florence
Much ado about nothing: Villa Vignamaggio

Kenneth Branagh chose Vignamaggio (in Greve in Chianti) as the setting for his adaptation of the comedy Much Ado About Nothing (1993), based on William Shakespeare’s story, starring Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton and Keanu Reeves.

Today a wine estate and agriturismo, Villa Vignamaggio is known by locals as Monnalisa’s villa. Built in 1400 by the powerful and rich Gherardini family, it was perhaps once home to Lisa Gherardini (Leonardo’s Gioconda). Although there are no proof about this fact, we like to imagine the beautiful Lisa walking through the orchards, with her little smile, enjoying one of the finest views of Tuscany.

Villa Vignamaggio (Much ado about nothing)
Villa Vignamaggio (Much ado about nothing)
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Tuscany as a Movie