Movie Locations in Milan to Explore this Summer
While the streets of Milan may not be as familiar to international cinema audiences as those of New York, London or Paris, there are still plenty of places that have been used as the setting for Hollywood movies, independent productions and, of course, homegrown Italian pictures. In this article, we will explore some of the Milanese locations that have made it to the screen – and which you can discover as you wander around the city. Plus, we’ll take a peek at some of the great film locations on Lake Como that you easily reach from the city itself.
Image source: Wikipedia
It’s Milan’s most iconic building and has featured in countless establishing shots as the easily recognisable symbol of the city, most famously in Vittorio De Sica’s 1951 fable Miracle in Milan (Miracolo a Milano), which tells the tale of a group of penniless post-World War II squatters living on a plot of land and who face eviction by the greedy landowner when oil is discovered on the site. Milan Cathedral (Duomo in Italian – which doesn’t mean “dome” by the way, that’s a cupola) features in the film’s iconic final scene when the squatters take to the air on broomsticks seized from the city’s streetsweepers (spazzini). It’s a sort of anarchic Italian version of the flying scenes in Peter Pan or Mary Poppins (or even a precursor of Harry Potter and quidditch) with the Duomo in the background as the squatters flit about the cathedral.
The Duomo can also be spotted in several of the other movies mentioned here, including House of Gucci, The Other Man and I Am Love. No stay in Milan is complete without seeing it and you can take the lift to the roof for a panoramic view of the city, as well as a chance to see the gargoyles and gothic spires up close.
Although Milan doesn’t appear in the movie itself, Leonardo da Vinci’s timeless The Last Supper (known in Italian is il Cenacolo vinciano) features heavily in The Da Vinci Code (2006), starring Tom Hanks and based on the art-and-mystery thriller by Dan Brown. You can see the original fresco in the Last Supper Museum at Milan’s Santa Maria delle Grazie. (Book well in advance to avoid disappointment.)
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele
Milan’s historic shopping arcade is one of the many stylish and glossy locations of The Other Man, a 2008 film starring Liam Neeson as the widowed husband of Laura Linney (The Truman Show, Ozark), a shoe designer whose frequent business trips to Milan masked a long-term affair with the “other man” of the title, Antonio Banderas. Hell-bent on seeking revenge, Neeson’s character heads for Milan to confront the former lover, although after he arrives the trajectory of the film veers off in an expected direction. Despite the movie bombing at the box office, it’s a watchable tale and if you know Milan it’s fun spotting all the locations, including the Villa d’Este on Lake Como, a luxury hotel where rooms and suites come at eye-watering prices.
Villa Necchi Campiglio
Image source: Wikipedia
This stunning Art Deco house, which is now open to the public as a museum, was designed by architect Piero Portaluppi and completed in 1935 for the Necchi Campiglio family, wealthy Milanese industrialists who wanted to make a statement with their elegant, somewhat severe house located in Via Mozart, a 10-minute walk from San Babila in the city centre. Its original austere design was later softened by Tomaso Buzzi, who added some 18th century touches in the style of France’s Louis XV. The villa forms the backdrop to I Am Love, Luca Guadagnino’s beautifully shot 2009 tale of passion and domestic intrigue starring Tilda Swinton as Emma, the Russian wife of Tancredi Recchi (Pippo Delbono), heir apparent to the family patriarch, Edoardo (Gabriele Ferzetti).
Villas on Lake Como
Villa del Balbiano. Image source: Wikipedia
After the cathedral city itself, international film directors and producers scouting locations in northern Italy turn inevitably to the lakes and their sumptuous villas. In The House of Gucci (2021) the 16th-century Villa del Balbiano provides the location for the imposing palazzo of Aldo Gucci, the eldest son of founder Guccio. In the film, Aldo, played by Al Pacino, is outmanoeuvered by the scheming Patrizia Reggiani in the form of Lady Gaga returning to her Italian roots and playing the demonic wife of hapless and ill-fated Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) with brio and a dodgy Italian accent. Villa del Balbiano, one of the oldest palazzi on Lake Como, is situated in Ossuccio and is a much sought-after luxury wedding venue.
Also on Lake Como, Villa Erba, which dates back to 1882, was used as a location in Ocean’s Twelve (2004) starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and a royal flush of Hollywood A-listers. The film forms part of a trilogy that is itself a reboot of the classic 1960 Hollywood heist movie. (Incidentally, the target of the 2001 Ocean’s Eleven was the Las Vegas Bellagio hotel and casino, which takes its name from the village on Lake Como). No longer a private home, Villa Erba is an exhibition and convention centre that hosts a varied programme of events. Clooney himself subsequently became the most well-known resident on the lake, buying the Villa Oleandra from the Heinz family for himself and his wife Amal, who tied the knot in the full glare of the world’s media in Venice in 2014.
Article by Robert Dennis for Easy Milano
About the author
Robert Dennis is a writer and Business English teacher based in Milan. He has been teaching for other 30 years both in the UK and in Italy. A long-time collaborator with John Peter Sloan, Robert published Business English (Gribaudo) in 2020. The book was launched with “Il Sole 24 Ore” and sold in newsstands throughout Italy. Robert has a website for people who want to learn Business English: Pay As You Learn.com. The site features keywords and phrases, audio and exercises to help professionals improve their language skills. A graduate in English from Oxford University, Robert is a regular contributor to Easy Milano who often writes about plays staged in English in Milan and other cultural events in the city. He is also a translator and “buongustaio” who loves Italian food! robertdennis.it
Easy Milano is the online publication for the international community of Milan. We offer practical tips, key information and essential insights about living and working in Italy. Easy Milano has been assisting English speaking expats in Milan since 1999.
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