From the marvellous architecture of Castle dell’Ovo to the turquoise luxury beaches of Positano, Indian cinema has played an important role in introducing the Indian audience to Italy, one of the finest destinations in the world.
Floating in a Ventian canal, lined by beautiful, artistic buildings and to the melodious tunes coming from the guitar of a boat rower, Indian superstar Amitabh Bachchan sang with her beloved Zeenat Aman the hit song Do Lafzon Ki Hai, in the 1979 film The Great Gambler. The fascinating Gandola ride on Italian waters introduced to India the beauty of this European paradise. Representation of Italy with crystal clear canals decorated with attractive boats became a trend in Indian films. Cinema, which was already a big craze in India, has successfully allured the Indian audience to visit the destination where their favourite superstars had been and recreate the iconic scenes. The Italian tourism board has found it profitable to promote the destination in India through its ventures of film tourism.
“We got in touch with Bollywood because it plays a very important role in the lives of Indians, especially the actors and actresses. As we know the moment a movie shot in Italy is a hit, it will remain in the lives of Indians for a long time. So, it is not a simple advertising – it is an investment for a lifetime,” Salvatore Iannielo, the representative of the ENIT – Italian State Tourist Board in India, was quoted by Indian media.
From the centuries-old architectural marvels to the artistic streets of Alberobello Truli, the Indian film industry played a pivotal role in bringing to the Indian wanderers, various getaways within Italy. Here are some of the Italian getaways that Bollywood played an important role in promoting within India.
It wouldn’t be wrong to call Naples, the third-largest Italian city, a living museum. Boasting of rich history, the city is home to a myriad of historic buildings, monuments, medieval castles, palaces, classical ruin sites and museums. Naples is also popular for a large number of gorgeous churches with one of the finest architecture found here, making the city one of the most preferred Catholic destinations around the globe. The beautiful city didn’t fail to woo the Indian filmmakers with always on the hunt for picturesque shooting locations. One of the first Indian films to be shot here was the 2005 multi-starrer Shadi No. 1. One of the songs of the film was shot entirely in the nine century old Castle dell’Ovo, the Coastland Centre, dotted with shopping boutiques and Piazza del Plebiscito, dating back to the 19th century.
The castle, named after a poet, in which Bollywood divas are shown grooving, overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and attracts the visitors mainly during the night when it is illuminated with various colourful lights adding to its beauty. Naples’s oldest standing fortification, the castle is just 850 metres from the Piazza del Plebiscito, a famous city square in Italy. The elegant gathering spot, surrounded by the Royal Palace and the Church of San Francesco di Paola, is thronged with passers-by throughout the day.
Capri is one of the most picturesque islands of Italy. Interestingly, the rocks which mark the foundation of this island date back to the Jurassic and Cretaceous eras. The island is particularly famous for its boat tours, swimming tours and larger than life yachts. The ferries dock at the spectacular Mariana Grande from where one can get convince for any destination withing Capri. Many tourists can be spotted lazying around the tranquil waters in the rocky coves and emerald green grottos. Another popular touristic activity is the chair lifting at Monte Solaro, the island’s highest point, from where one can catch hold of entire Capri. The lip-smacking Caprian recipes are a must try, with Caprese Salad, being the most popular one. A bustling nightlife fetches the destination more brownie points. Many of the famous clubs of the island, open only after midnight keeping the partying spirit alive.
The destination made its way to the Indian silver screen through the 2009 film Bachna Ae Haseeno. The film struck the right chord amongst the audience by portraying the top attractions of the place including the dynamic Piazzetta, the lavish villas overlooking blue waters with tints of green and the refreshing grottos.
San Giorgio Maggiore
San Giorgio Maggiore, one of the eye-catching islands in Northern Italy, is famous amongst the tourists for centuries-old Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, which stands atop a blue lagoon. The historic church is admired for its classical Renaissance style. The bell tower within the church complex offers a birds-eye view of the entire Venice. New timely additions in the harbour, such as a handsome music theatre built there last April, keep the spirit of the place alive. 2009 film Kambakkht Ishq has been shot on the island, captivating its beauty in the songs. The harbour region shown in the film also dates back to the 16th century and has some gorgeous structures surrounding it. Another place of tourist interest captured in the film is the Montechhio Maggiore’s Villa Cordellina, which is a traditional palace built in Baroque style, continuing the heritage legacy. The palace is home to gorgeous gardens which pay homage to the art of Andrea Palladio, an Italian designer and architect, with gorgeous figures and statues established in the complex. Some Italian dancers had also been roped for filming the title track of the film, adding to the Italian flavour.
Puglia or Apulia, the strikingly beautiful southern region of Italy, also called the heels of Italy’s boots, is another hit Italian destination. The place is famous particularly for its whitewashed hill towns, baroque architecture, centuries-old farmlands and ultra-clean turquoise beaches. Another factor which makes the destination unique is the abundance of natural caves, some of which even offer water sports such as snorkelling. The beauty of this place has been very well captured in the 2010 Sajid Khan directorial Housefull. The multi-starrer film featured beautiful beaches of the region, including Vignanotoco Bay, in such a way that a virtual tour of the place can be experienced by merely watching the film.
The bay is lined with bare rocks topped with greenery which overlooking the majestic ocean, a sight enough to remind the humans of their triviality. The wanderlust of viewers is further awakened in the song O girl, you’re mine, which has been shot on the beautiful Porto Greco Beach and the seaside resort town of Faraglioni di Mattinata, set along the Adriatic Sea. Both the getaways are popular amongst the tourist for their magnificent cliffs and clean beaches. Interestingly, Mattinata is the only town in Apulia which is a part of the Gargano National Park. The region is a special attraction for botanists due to the rich variety of Orchids its supports and has its urban area located up on two hills overlooking the sea, surrounded by mountains.
Another attraction is the artistic streets of Alberobello Truli, a village dotted with huts made of sandstone, which are enough to cast a spell at the audience. The village has been covered in Bachna Ae Haseeno’s famous song Khuda Jane, which was a hit amongst the millennials.
Positano beach, Amalfi coast
Amalfi Coast, one of the most expensive destinations around the globe, made its debut on the Indian silver screen with the song Ghungroo of film War released in 2019. The locale of Positano beaches shown in the song made a perfect backdrop for the day beach party set up, guaranteeing fun. The groovy song has done justice to the partying spirit of Amalfi. The breath-taking skyline of Positano also shown in the song can be attributed to the strict building codes that have restricted modern construction in the region. Even motorised traffic is allowed on just one road to avoid congestion and maintain the beauty of the place. Besides the Positano beach filmed in the song, the place also hosts several other picturesque beaches including Spiaggia Grande, Fornillo La Porta, Arienzo and Remmese. Hiking along the coastlines is particularly famous amongst the tourists. The place is a living statement of class, style and luxury in itself. Many chic cafes and luxury boutiques can also be spotted here, making for a perfect luxury getaway. The song also briefly shows the lavish bars that suggest a rich nightlife in the region. Thanks to the warm winters and sunny summers, the destination can be visited throughout the year.
Also Read – Vieste: Hidden gem of Italy.