The first title that springs to mind, when talking about cinema and Forte dei Marmi, is undoubtedly Sapore di mare, one of director Carlo Vanzina’s greatest hits. But Forte dei Marmi, and Versilia, have been chosen as sets by countless films, throughout the history of Italian and international cinema, and up to the most recent TV series.
Choices dictated not only by the beauty of the places, nature and environment, but also by the luxury and elegance of the restaurants and nightclubs, the villas and stores, the atmosphere of relaxed enjoyment and the special and unique idea of vacation that can only be experienced here.
As early as the 1940s, Versilia was adopted as a symbolic place for luxury vacationing: in a 1941 film, La famiglia Brambilla in vacanza, the ambitious mother of the main character chooses to spend Ferragosto there, with the aim of finding a good match for her daughter. The film (which stars the greatest star of the time, Massimo Girotti) is recorded in the Cinecittà studios, but a long stock shot shows the beach, small sailboats and traffic circles on the sea, typical of those years.
With a 20-year leap, we arrive at Una vita difficile (1961) by Dino Risi, starring Lea Massari and a resounding Alberto Sordi. The two play a couple in crisis, with the husband chasing his wife on vacation in Versilia. The beach, the Lungomare and nightclubs are the backdrop of their affairs, and one recognizes in particular the Oliviero nightclub at Cinquale, now closed but at the time as famous and renowned as the Capannina or the Bussola.
In contrast, the aforementioned Sapore di mare, set entirely in Forte dei Marmi, dates from 1983. A light-hearted film that immediately became a cult hit, definitively launching leading man Jerry Calà. The cast also included Marina Suma, Christian De Sica and a splendid Virna Lisi, who won a David di Donatello thanks to that performance.
Forte dei Marmi, in Vanzina’s film, is not only the set of the many outdoor shots, but a real protagonist, on par with the characters. And the same goes for the Capannina, where several crucial scenes are set, and which 40 years later remains one of the most famous clubs in the world.
The Forte beach, recognizable thanks to its typical cabins, unchanged for decades, is also the setting for some scenes from an authentic masterpiece, The English Patient, directed by Anthony Minghella in 1996, starring Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche and Willem Dafoe. The film earned 12 Oscar nominations, and won nine, including best picture and best director, as well as five Bafta Awards and two Golden Globes.
A corner of Versilia well known to mountain and cycling enthusiasts next appears in a film in the James Bond saga, 2008’s 007 Quantom of Solace, starring Daniel Craig as the British spy. In fact, a spectacular and breathtaking chase takes place on the very narrow and steep roads of Alta Versilia, between the Passo del Vestito and the Galleria del Cipollaio.
And if TV series are the new frontier of the “seventh art,” Forte dei Marmi is at the forefront here as well. The biggest and most recent production is Disclaimer, directed in 2022 by Oscar winner Alfonso Cuarón, with a cast that includes two other Oscar winners, Cate Blanchett and Kevin Kline. The series is being released on Apple Tv, and was largely filmed on the beach at Bagno Piero.
Mexican Cuarón, after all, is an honorary citizen of another Versilia gem, Pietrasanta. And if Oscar winners choose Versilia to work or live in, how can you blame them?