Venice through cinema places

by Roberta Nalesso |  editor VeneziaSì

Venice through cinema places For its incomparable beauty and natural sceneries that it offers, Venice has always constituted a sough after and privileged scenography for cinematographers from all over the world that have celebrated it in all seasons and through films of different genres and insights, amongst common postcard places and romantic decadence of psychodrama…

For the passionately fond of the seventh art, but not only, a discovery of Venice through cinema places could turn out to be an exhilarating as much as a never-ending adventure whose stages risk to be endless…

For this reason, we have chosen only some of the most renowned place that inspired cinematographers from all over the world and following the traces of some of the most famous cinema sets, we propose to you a journey to do in one day, on the discovery of one eternal Venice, a times decadent or surreal.
Seen through the eyes of film directors, a city has always had a chosen relationship with cinema, and not only because Venice hosts the celebrated Festival of Italian Cinematography, invented by Conte Volpi, first festival in the world and also the only one until post-war period.

1° stage: (1 h) We start our itinerary getting on waterbus number 1 from the train station of Santa Lucia, a starting point of the journey along the Grand Canal, main artery of the city onto which its most beautiful palaces open and from where it is possible to enjoy the most charming viewpoints to admire the symbol places.
It’s at random the Grand canal has constituted one of the main cinema sets under the open sky where there were filmed some of the films that marked the cinematographic history of the city.

In fact, along the Grand canal we find the great Alberto Sordi in his gondolier version, with much of the Venetian dialect, that transports up and down young and enchanting tourists, stirring up the fiancée’s jealousy and to take her revenge she lets herself to be wooed by the motorboat man Nino Manfredi, in the amusing Italian comedy by Dino Risi, Venice, the moon and you (1958).

On the other hand, some of the scenes from the film Romeo and Juliet by Renato Castellani (1954) were shot at Ca’ d’Oro, while near Rialto there occurs the finding of the corpse that is the beginning of the adventures of Shadows on the Grand Canal, film by Glauco Pellegrini (1951), known also for his documentaries made about Venice.
Still along the Grand canal there stands the sinister Palazzo Pisani from In Venice…one shocking red December (1973), psychological thriller by Nicolas Roeg in which two parents are trying to overcome the drama of their daughter’s death moving to a disquieting lagoon city.

Along the Grand Canal there travel all over also two protagonists of Identification of a woman, film from 1982 by Michelangelo Antonioni, who finish by calling at the Gritti Hotel, while protagonists are the spectacular chasings of a fascinating Roger Moore in role of Venetian 007 that we find at the end of the seventies in Moonraker by Lewis Gilbert.
On the contrary, it’s a melancholic and twilight Venice, wrapped up in a perpetual fog, the one which hosts the tormented love story between Florinda Bolkan and Tony Musante in the famous Venetian Anonym (1970) by Enrico Maria Salerno, from which we remember the soundtrack that has become popular, the concert for oboe by Benedetto Marcello.

Scenes of the films go over the symbol places of the city, from Accademia, where there were set the flashbacks of juvenile loves of two protagonists to the Grand Canal, where waterbuses and gondolas glide, until St Mark’s basin, silent spectators of the two that unravel during melancholic gloomy days and melodramatic scenes.
Close to the Church La Salute Steven Spielberg filmed in 1989 Indiana Jones and the last crusade, third part of the series, obtaining the permit to block pedestrian traffic in order to film some scenes, while the church is the background of the interview of writer  Susan Sontag about the mystery of the identity of Zelig in the homonymous film (from 1983) by film director Woody Allen, who pays his personal homage to the city he loves so much, setting his another work, musical Everybody says I love you from 1996, amongst the lanes and the luxurious Danieli Hotel of a charming and a bit glamorous Venice.

2° stage: (1 h) We get off the waterbus in St Mark’s square, throbbing heart of the city and scenario of excellence of many famous films and even rebuilt in the recent animated cartoon by Pascal Morelli Corto Maltese - A ballad of the salty sea (2003).

In Doges’ Palace there are legacies of cinema transpositions of Othello by Shakespeare, from which we remember the most famous versions directed by Orson Welles (1952) and Franco Zeffirelli (1986), while one ghostly and threatening St Mark’s square is the one that is a background of brutalities of a bloodcurdling Klaus Kinski, who interprets Nosferatu in Venice (1988) in a delirious film by Augusto Caminito.
Walking towards Riva degli Schiavoni we come across the Bridge of Sights, another symbol place of the city as well as the site of the romantic final of another episode where Agent 007 in From Russian with Love (but this time there is handsome Sean Connery to portray him), takes in gondola his last conquered woman under the Bridge of Sights.

3° stage: (1 h 30’) After this tour in St Mark’s square we retake the waterbus and have a scroll in the nearby island of Giudecca, seat of the cinematographic establishments of the regime in 1943 and where in 1983 Tinto Brass from Venice set his famous erotic film, The Key, inspired by the homonymous novel by Tanizaki, recreating in the lagoon, in front of the Church of Redentore, a thirties Venice with a lot of fake snow.
From here we can walk until the end of the Giudecca shore from where it is possible to catch sight of the nearby island of San Giorgio, itself also a setting of some shots from Death in Venice, historic film by Luchino Visconti that we’ll talk about at the next stage. In front of the island of San Giorgio, in an area of Venice that doesn’t exists any more, The canal of the angels is also set (1934), only film by Francesco Pasinetti, Venetian documentarist, whose city has also given the title to the homonymous video club.
Once you have arrived here, you can have a break in the restaurant da Cip and, time allowing, enjoy a pizza (cheaper than a full lunch), sitting in the most beautiful stallage of Venice, from where there is a splendid view on San Giorgio and the lagoon in front of St Mark’s.

4° stage: (1 h) After this break we retake our itinerary amongst cinema places getting on a waterbus that will take us back to St Mark’s square, from where we move towards the nearby Theatre Fenice, rebuilt as it was before the 1996 fire that had completely destroyed it and which has recently been given back to the city. After its reopening, there have been guided tours every day inside the theatre, looking at the stage, balconies and theatre’s grand staircase and you can not but relive the initial scenes of the successful film by Visconti, Sense (1954), that opens with the notes of  Troubadour by Verdi.

5° stage: (2 h)  After the visit to the theatre, our journey can’t but conclude itself on Lido, a symbol place of the cinema par excellence, not only because there takes place the most important Festival of Cinematographic Art of Italy, but because in this chic atmosphere, between Art-Nouveau architecture and velvet beaches, you can walk until you arrive to the luxurious Des Bains Hotel where Luchino Visconti filmed some of the scenes from his famous film Death in Venice (1971).
Plainly inspired by the homonymous masterpiece by Thomas Mann, the film that is wrapped up in the twilight and Proustian atmospheres of Lido, narrates the romantic obsession of Dirk Bogarde, who portrays an old ill musician being infatuated by androgen beauty of a young boy. In the background of halls and balconies of Des Bains, a glimpse can be caught of another Venice as much sorrowful as decadent, whose agony of plague that was raging gets bewildered with the agony that will lead the protagonist to death.

Against this decadent city, which is a background of existential crisis and love dramas, are set up, on the other hand, the scenes of a recent film by Soldini, Bread and Tulips (2000) which portrays less know places of a lesser Venice, sunny and a bit fairy-tale, in which the joy of living of the protagonist and its inhabitants is reflected.

At this point, you could retake a waterbus and go back to Venice, maybe looking at a beautiful lagoon sunset from the waterbus and perhaps feeling like going to the cinema tonight…

by Roberta Nalesso
VeneziaSì editor



Photo gallery

Address and Informations

Duration: 1 day
Transportation: by foot and by boat

Your vacation starts here

Call Center

+39 041 5222264
Everyday from 8. a.m. to 11 p.m.
Call now!

Welcome Desk

5 Welcome Desks in the strategic points of arrival in Venice!

Where we are