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Photo © Massimiliano Parli
Photo © Massimiliano Parli

The Tuscan locations in "The English Patient"

From Versilia to Val d’Orcia: the places where Anthony Minghella shot his renowned film

For many years now, the concept of movie tourism has become widespread, namely the practice of visiting locations, monuments and areas used as sets for cinema and TV productions.

Tuscany has often been the setting of internationally-renowned films. Cities of art and landscapes are well-recognised in many films that have made the history and fortune of cinema.

"The English Patient", for instance, has many of its scenes filmed in numerous Tuscan locations. The film, shot in 1996 and directed by Anthony Minghella, boasts an exceptional cast: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe and Naveen Andrews, only to name a few.

  • 1.
    Locations in Versilia
  • 2.
    Locations in Val d’Orcia
  • 3.
    Locations in Pisa and Arezzo
  • 4.
    Another location (almost)

Locations in Versilia

Liberty-style architecture in Viareggio
Liberty-style architecture in Viareggio - Credit: Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte

The film, based on the novel of the same name by the Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje, is partially set in Versilia. The film crew filmed Viareggio and one of its historical hotels, facing the sea. Still in the same area, a seaside resort of Forte dei Marmi can be recognized. Massaciuccoli Cava Tequila also appears, an authentic theater dug into the mountain, not far from the homonymous lake.

Locations in Val d’Orcia

Sant'Anna in Camprena
Sant'Anna in Camprena - Credit: Massimiliano Parli

A large part of The English Patient was filmed in the beautiful Val d’Orcia. In particular, the film was shot in Pienza, between piazza Pio II, a symbol of the Renaissance’s urban ideals, and the streets of Cosona, a fortified 15th-century complex.

Among the Val d’Orcia locations of the movie is also the Monastery of Sant’Anna in Camprena (now an agritourism overseen by the diocese of Montepulciano-Chiusi-Pienza), a former monastery complex that included a church and a small cemetery.

Locations in Pisa and Arezzo

San Francesco Basilica, Arezzo
San Francesco Basilica, Arezzo - Credit: Luca Aless

Some of the external shots were filmed in the hamlet of Ripafratta, in the area of Pisa. In the film you can see its fortress and the bridge over the River Serchio.

In a fragment of the movie there is the Basilica of San Francesco of Arezzo, a Gothic 13th-century building, though restored in the 14th century, and inspired in its simplicity by the Franciscan aesthetic. Inside the Bracci Chapel are the splendid frescoes by Piero della Francesca depicting the 15 scenes of the Legend of the True Cross

Another location (almost)

Originally, The English Patient was to include a scene (now cut) featuring the station of Montecatini Terme.