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Movie locations in the Med: Our Top 5

No film would really work if you didn’t believe its message, yet never trusting the landscape you see on screen should be a golden rule for any movie lover. Believe it or not, most scenes are not filmed in the countries or cities where the events take place within the movie, but rather in convenient substitutes for the film makers.

As unlikely as it is to shock any hardcore movie fan, this simple truth is actually great news for any curious traveller with a love (or obsession even) for cinema.

Starting a trip across some famous cinema sets in Europe is your usual idea for a Continental holiday, but surely a great idea for a trip with a twist.

For this first batch of famous movie locations, we have decided to fly to the Mediterranean with its unique mix of history, sun and natural splendour, which have made it one of the most popular film locations for some of the great influential directors in history.

Malta

La Valletta
La Valletta

A small island with a long history and crystalline beaches all around, you would find it hard to link Malta to any specific chapter of cinema history. Yet, it was chosen by many directors to replace more famous settings. The impressive Fort Ricasoli stars in both Ridley Scott’s The Gladiator and Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy (2004): it will be easy enough for you to revive Russell Crowe’s exploits as you reach the island’s capital La Valletta…

Spain

Almeria
Almeria

It is a favourite for the whole Bond franchise, with 7 appearances throughout, but Spain went down as an iconic setting in cinema history thanks to Lawrence of Arabia, which was filmed in the areas near Almeria.  Playa del Algarrobico is where the town of Aqaba was recreated, and Cabo de Gata the place where the train attack took place.

Italy

Palazzo Reale
Palazzo Reale

Countless classics were filmed in Italy, with historical cities, countryside villas and seaside locations all over the country often enjoying their spots under the limelight thanks to Hollywood exposure. With a wide range of genres covered, few could imagine that many sci-fi titles are often related to Italian movie locations. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace included scenes filmed in Caserta’s Palazzo Reale, not far from Naples, which became the interior of Queen Amidala’s palace.

Greece

Kefalonia
Kefalonia

Just across the sea from Italy, Greece doesn’t star in international movies quite as often, but when it does it really makes an impression!  Most notably, its beautiful island of Kefalonia recently played host to Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, a Hollywood hit which surely owes much of its success to the beauty of the typically Mediterranean surroundings of the village of Sami. And of course, how could we forget Mamma Mia? This quintessentially Greek film was filmed on the island of Skopelos.

Turkey

Hagia Sofia
Hagia Sofia

More easily connected with Eastern settings and world films, Turkey has recently risen to stardom thanks to Skyfall and Argo, replacing real-life Iran in the latter. Ben Affleck was spotted in the streets of Istanbul, and the city’s Hagia Sophia Museum was also the main backdrop for many parts of this successful spy story. However, Affleck asked to change the 4,000 fluorescent light bulbs illuminating museum, as the incandescent variety were much more to his liking. They also became a favourite also for the museum management, who kept them in place even following the filming.

Images by Derbeth, Ventura Carmona, Wikimedia Commons, Dan Taylor and Dennis Javis under a Creative Commons licence.

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