The territory of Arezzo has a special relationship with the world of cinema. Arezzo and other places in the province have been privileged sets for successful films in Italy and abroad over the years.
The most famous film is “La vita è bella” (Life is beautiful) of 1997, winner of three Oscars, a masterpiece by the Tuscan director and actor Roberto Benigni. Strolling through the most suggestive streets and squares of the historic centre, visitors can retrace the places where the main scenes were filmed and relive the same emotions.
The key that falls almost by a miracle from an old house in Piaggia San Martino, the daring descent on a bicycle from Piazza Grande through the streets and alleys of the centre, the fall for love in Piazza della Badia, the eggs in the hat in front of the former Military Presidium, the filming in front of the Caffè dei Costanti and inside the Teatro Petrarca, the downpour in front of the Duomo steps. There is no area of the historic centre where tourists do not have the privilege of reliving memorable parts of the award-winning film. If we then move a few kilometres, we will discover that there are scenes also set in Cortona, Castiglion Fiorentino and the Valdarno.
“La vita è bella” is the best known of the many films shot in the Arezzo area, but it is not the only one. How can we forget, for example, “The English Patient” of 1997 by Anthony Minghella, a film that won nine Academy Awards, and the unforgettable shot in front of the “Legend of the True Cross” by Piero della Francesca, in the Basilica of San Francesco in Arezzo.
Cortona is the absolute star of “Under the Tuscan Sun” of 2003 by Audrey Wells, based on the bestseller of the same name by Frances Mayes, but the pearl of the Val di Chiana is also featured in “Certified Copy” of 2010 by Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, who captured the beauty of enchanted villages such as Lucignano and Monte San Savino.
As regards comedy, some scenes of “Noi uomini duri” (1987) by director Maurizio Ponzi were shot in the surroundings of Pieve Santo Stefano, “Ivo il tardivo” (1995) by actor and director Alessandro Benvenuti was filmed in Castelnuovo Sabbioni, in the Cavriglia area, and “Albergo Roma” by director Ugo Chiti takes place in Foiano della Chiana. Then there are the films of actor and director Leonardo Pieraccioni, who chose Laterina, Poppi and Stia as sets for “Il Ciclone” in 1997, Anghiari for “Una moglie bellissima” in 2007 and Arezzo for “Un fantastico via vai” in 2013.
Going back in time, auteur cinema has crossed paths with the land of Arezzo with Luigi Comencini’s 1963 “La ragazza di Bube”, partly filmed in Anghiari, Andrey Tarkovsky’s 1983 “Nostalghia” with some scenes filmed in Monterchi, and Mario Monicelli’s 1985 “Le due vite di Mattia Pascal” (The Two Lives of Mattia Pascal) set in Cortona. These three directors have written unforgettable pages of 20th century cinema, influenced by a heterogeneous and at the same time unique territory that knows how to make those choosing to discover it fall in love with it.
“Life is beautiful” by Roberto Benigni
“The English Patient” by Anthony Minghella
“Certified Copy” by Abbas Kiarostami
The starting point is in Via Garibaldi, under the portico of the former Caserma Italia, which will bring to mind the hilarious scene of the eggs in Rodolfo’s (Amerigo Fontani) hat, Dora’s boyfriend. Continuing along Via Garibaldi, you will reach Via Porta Buia, right in front of the primary school where Guido (Roberto Benigni), pretending to be a school inspector, makes us smile by jumping on the classroom desks. You will then arrive at Piazza della Badia, where you can almost hear the famous “Buongiorno Principessa!” and relive the encounter between Guido and Dora (Nicoletta Braschi); walk along Via Cavour until you reach Piazza San Francesco and stop to sip a cappuccino at the renowned Caffè dei Costanti, overlooking the elegant Basilica of San Francesco, the church that houses the frescoes of the True Cross by Piero della Francesca. At the corner of the square and Via Guido Monaco, you will find yourself in front of the Teatro Petrarca, a jewel of the 19th century and an unforgettable backdrop for the show that Guido and Dora also attend.
At this point, it’s time to go up to Arezzo Alta and find yourself in Piazza Grande, where every corner has served as a backdrop for “Life Is Beautiful”: the unforgettable romantic walks of Guido and Dora echo under the Logge Vasari, and the comical night scene of Benigni shouting “Maria! Throw the key!” will bring a smile to your face in the vastness of the square. Not to mention the bicycle ride of Guido, Dora, and little Giosuè, a symbol of family love and one of the best ways to experience the city: on a bike.
Exit Piazza Grande and along Corso Italia, climb up to the Cathedral of Santi Pietro e Donato. As if time had stood still, you will rediscover the steps of the scene with the vintage car under the rain and the portico of Palazzo della Provincia, the sweet shelter of our Oscar-winning protagonists.
Along the itinerary, signage describes the various scenes of the movie filmed in that specific location