A large number of movies – even if ‘travel’ is not their main theme – inspire particular and memorable trips. Between breath-taking settings and unexpected locations, here are 15 movie itineraries that will change and shape your travel plans.
ANGELS AND DEMONS
Angels and Demons, a 2009 thriller film directed by Ron Howard, shows the path of Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) in Rome to solve a mystery strictly linked to the ancient Illuminati secret society. Art and history are the real protagonists of the film; so what is better than the Eternal City to host a mystery linking ancient and modern times?
Rome is one of the most fascinating cities of the world, so put yourself in Robert Langdon’s shoes and follow the ancient itinerary to reach the Church of Illumination. Langdon’s steps are easy to follow. The itinerary includes the Pantheon with Raffaello’s tomb, the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo with Chigi Chapel and the sculpture of Abacuc and the Angel, and Saint Peter’s Square with its famous Basilica, Bernini’s colonnade and the Egyptian obelisk. For Dan Brown’s readers, the bas-relief sculpture representing an angel blowing West Ponente wind is located near this obelisk. Then, the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria with the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa sculpted by Bernini, the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Navona Square and, finally, Castel Sant’Angelo.
Nicolas Cage is Benjamin Gates, a historian cryptologist searching for the Templar Treasure. This action-packed movie mainly takes place in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. Specifically, Gates goes to the National Archives in Washington D.C., where the Declaration of Independence is stored inside a bulletproof glass case in the Rotunda, the main chamber of the building, together with the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In Washington D.C. one may also visit other important monuments symbolising American history, such as the White House, the Washington Monument – a marble obelisk commemorating the first USA President – the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial, with Abraham Lincoln’s giant statue.
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the framings of the Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell are evocative. Particularly, the Independence Hall is the building where 56 men named Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776; the Liberty Bell, instead, is the well-known cracked bell that rang to call the Americans to hear the Declarations’ reading. Benjamin Gates’s itinerary is the best one to discover the origins of the USA.
VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA
Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a 2008 brilliant comedy directed by Woody Allen. Scarlett Johanson and Rebecca Hall play two friends who are in Barcelona to spend summer holidays. Here they meet Javier Bardem, a fascinating man who seduces both girls
The framings of the Catalan city and the colourful designs by Gaudí and Miró are spectacular. Their itinerary includes the Sagrada Família, a basilica still under construction (it was started in 1882!) and Park Güell, an 18 hectares public area characterised by colourful architectonical elements created by Gaudí. Then, Casa Milà, a modernist building designed by Gaudí as well, very popular for its curves (and known as La Pedrera because of its stone façade) and La Rambla, a one-mile length street in the center of Barcelona.
Furthermore, the protagonists reach Oviedo and Avilés, beautiful cities in Asturias, in the North of Spain. These places are so fascinating that tourists immediately fall in love with them. All film characters and Woody Allen himself loved those places as well, and Allen was honoured with a bronze statue in the historic center of Oviedo. These are the words reported beneath the plate: ‘Oviedo is like a fairy tale’.
In The Tourist (2010) stars Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. Depp plays an American tourist who is in Italy on holiday. He meets the beautiful and mysterious Jolie on a train going to St. Lucia Station in Venice. However, they do not meet by chance, and Depp will be involved in a series of dangerous situations while surrounded by the breathtaking lagoon.
In addition to Venice’s classical views – such as the Grand Canal and St. Mark’s Square – the film shows less common but fascinating places. Among them, Hotel Danieli, a palace built in the 14th century by the Dandolo family; since the palace has become a five-star hotel, a large number of artists have stayed there, such as Proust, Wagner, Goethe, Debussy and Montale. The film also shows Palazzo Pisani Moretta, a Venetian gothic palace built in the 15th century by the Bembo family; Madonna dell’Orto Church, Loredan Palace, headquarters of the Veneto Institute of Science, Literature and Art, and the Fondaco dei Turchi, a palace that hosts the Museum of Natural History. Venice is one of the most astonishing cities in the world and this film does justice to it.
OUT OF AFRICA
Robert Redford and Meryl Streep make one of the most beautiful couples in the history of movies. They live their love story in Out of Africa, a 1985 film directed by Sydney Pollack. The film is the autobiography of Danish writer Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep), who in 1914 moves to Africa to marry without love Baron Blixen. Specifically, Blixen moves to Southern Kenya, in a farm facing Ngong Hills, along the Great Rift Valley. Baron Blixen is often far away; this leads Mrs. Blixen to start a strong and intimate relationship with hunter Danys Finch Hatton (Robert Redford). And with Africa itself.
Aerial views are very impressive, showing endless valleys, lush hills, rivers and falls and, of course, wild animals. A notable mention goes to the Masai Mara National Reserve, located in the Seregeti Valley. Worth a visit are also the Karen Blixen Museum in Nairobi and, 12 miles away from there, Denys Finch Hatton’s tomb, on the Ngong hills. After visiting this wonderful land, you’ll repeat the protagonist’s words with nostalgia: ‘I know a song of Africa’.
In The Beach, a 2000 drama, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Richard, a young American tourist in Bangkok looking for new emotions and experiences. He stays in a hostel and meets Daffy, a mysterious man who tells him about a secret island and a paradisiac beach and leaves him a map to reach it.
In the film, the island and the beach are unknown and unreachable. In real life, they’re the amazing Maya Bay on the uninhabited Phi Phi Leh Island, located in the Andaman Sea, Thailand. Although the island has become a destination appreciated by tourists, it doesn’t offer any accommodations. It is however well-known for its white sand, crystal-clear water, caves, cliffs, breathtaking views and a flourishing sea bottom that is very appreciated by diving lovers.
Phi Phi Don Island, larger and equipped, deserves a visit as well. Nevertheless, the taste of snake’s blood should be left to fearless people
THELMA & LOUISE
In Thelma & Louise, a 1991 film directed by Ridley Scott, Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon play two friends who decide to spend the weekend on the mountains. But an unexpected accident changes their lives forever. As a result, they embark on a crazy, desperate and astonishing trip on the iconic 1966 green Ford Thunderbird.
Starting from Arkansas, with its mountainous regions and lowlands, they reach Oklahoma and its endless valleys, up to Oklahoma City, the capital and largest city. They go on to New Mexico, a land ranging from desert areas in the South to snowy mountains in the North. The itinerary ends in Arizona with the wonderful Grand Canyon, a 270 miles long and 6,000 ft high valley created by Colorado River. That is a very original trip: typical American car, wind in your hair and your best friend sit next to you, smiling and looking for freedom and new adventures.
THE LAST SAMURAI
The Last Samurai (2003) tells the story of Captain Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise). Captain Algren is sent to Japan in 1870s to train the Emperor’s ranks, in order to repress a rebellion of traditionalist Samurais hiding in the territory. However, after the rebels capture him, Captain Algren comes to know and appreciate the Samurai’s art and code of honour.
Besides beautiful panoramic views of Japan and of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, the film also shows Kyoto and Himeji, amazing cities not far from Osaka. 4-mile far from Himeji, the Buddhist Engyo-ji Temple is located 1200 ft high on the Shosha Mount. This wonderful temple has a millenary history and it was chosen to represent Samurai Katsumoto’s house.
Following Samurais and their code of behaviour – which includes discipline, honour, determination, courage and balance between action and reflection – a trip to Japan allows visitors to discover amazing places and very ancient traditions.
INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), third chapter of Steven Spielberg‘s saga, tells a new mission of the most famous and charming archeologist of the world. In 1938, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is searching for his father Henry Jones (Sean Connery), archeologist as well. Jones Senior has been kidnapped as he was about to find the exact location where the Holy Grail lies, the goblet in which Christ would have drunk during the Last Supper. During the path leading to the truth, the archeologists talk about the city of Alessandretta, where the relic should be hidden. In real life, Alessandretta is the wonderful archeological site of Petra in Jordan.
The framings of the Siq – a narrow passage and the only access to the ancient city – are really impressive. The Siq is a 650 ft deep rocky canyon that extends for half a mile and ends with the incredible façade dig in the rock of El Khasneh, the Treasure, the main monument of Petra. Starting from Indiana Jones’ path, Petra’s visit continues with the Street of Facades, the Theatre, the Royal Tombs, the ancient columns and the Monastery Al-Deir, reachable after a 800-step climb.
LARA CROFT – TOMB RAIDER
Lara Croft – Tomb Raider (2001) stars Angelina Jolie as the iconic archeologist. In this adventure, Lara travels the world seeking for a precious object capable of dominating time.
The search leads her to Cambodia, a land full of history and culture. Specifically, two locations mainly draw her attention: Angkor Wat site and Ta Prohm Temple. The latter as often be referred to as ‘the Tomb Raider Temple’ or ‘the Angelina Jolie Temple’ since the movie came out.
Angkor Wat, a spectacular Khmer temple located inside the Angkor archaeological site near Siem Reap, was built approximately a millennium ago. It is surrounded on four sides by a large water moat and by the jungle. Its size is impressive: the internal perimeter, indeed, is almost 2.5 miles. Ta Prohm Temple, instead, is one of the most picturesque temples in the world, as it is completely invaded by jungle. After the downfall of Khmer dynasty, the temple was abandoned and nature prevailed. The impressive large strangler figs literally dominate the temple ruins. That is an unmissable destination for nature and culture lovers
The Rock is a 1996 action movie directed by Michael Bay. It tells the story of a group of tourists taken hostage in former Alcatraz penitentiary by some rebels with bacteriological weapons. A chemist (Nicolas Cage) and an ex-prisoner (Sean Connery) will try to save the day.
The city of San Francisco, California, is the amazing setting of the film, and the framings of its well-known hills and bay are wonderful. Alcatraz, renamed ‘The Rock’ as it is mainly made by rocks, is an island 2.5 miles off the coast and originally it held the namesake maximum security prison. Because of its location, it was almost impossible to break out from there. Even gangster Al Capone spent some time in Alcatraz.
The penitentiary operated from 1934 to 1963, then it was closed due to its high managing costs. Today, it represents an appreciated destination, and tourists can reach it by ferryboat. People visiting San Francisco have to include Alcatraz Island in their itinerary, together with Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, Chinatown, Victorian houses in Alamo Square and Lombard Street, the most crooked street in the world.
007 – DR. NO
007 – Dr. No is the first movie of the James Bond saga. The 1962 film stars Sean Connery as the most popular secret agent in the world. Bond heads to Jamaica to solve a mystery regarding the suspicious death of a British secret agent. Together with the beautiful Ursula Andress, Bond finds out Dr. No’s plans, a criminal that works for SPECTRE.
The movie is mainly set in Jamaica, island of the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. Most framings took place in Kingston, the capital city located on the southeastern coast. The film also shows for the first time the Dunn’s River Falls, located not far from Ocho Rios. These 600 ft high falls are particularly well-known, as they are one of the few in the world that flow directly into the sea. After a climb to reach them, these falls offer a unique landscape: lagoons and natural pools surrounded by luxuriant tropical jungle.
Jamaica is so fascinating that even Ian Fleming bought a property there in 1946. His house, renamed Goldeneye, is located in Oracabella, a little town 12 miles far from Ochos Rios. Here Fleming gave birth to the famous spy. Furthermore, the beach in front of the house is called James Bond Beach.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS – THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING
In The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring we see the first instalment of the epic trilogy directed by New Zealander director Peter Jackson in 2001. The entire film was shot in New Zealand. The imaginary world of Middle-Earth was recreated in several areas this land, both in the North Island and in the South Island.
Both The Shire, and particularly Hobbiville, were accurately reproduced in a picturesque territory near Matamata, in the North Island.
Here a sign says ‘Welcome to Hobbiville’ to visitors, who will find 17 smial, classic Hobbit-style little houses, and the Green Dragon Inn. Mount Doom – where the ring has to be destroyed – exists as well: it is Mount Ngauruhoe, an active volcano located in Tongariro National Park, covering an 800 square kilometres area in the North Island, between Auckland and Wellington.
Ocean’s Eleven (2001) tells the story of a group of crooks – among which George Clooney and Brad Pitt – who decide to rob three Las Vegas’ casinos: Bellagio, Mirage and MGM Grand. Together with funny and emotional scenes, the film offers beautiful views of the most animated and sparkling city of the US.
Las Vegas is the last stop for gambling lovers and the starting point for tourists to visit the great state of Nevada. Coming to Las Vegas by plane or car, the arid and uncontaminated desert suddenly leaves space to lights, colours and unexpected reproductions. Some examples? Along the Strip, the central large boulevard, tourists can see the Bellagio with the reproduction of Como Lake and its dancing fountains; the Caesars Palace, with its Roman Empire setting; and the Luxor, with its glass and steel pyramid. Moreover, the MGM Grand hosts the Grand Garden Arena, with its mega-concerts and boxing matches; the New York New York has the Statue of Liberty, the Paris has the Eiffel Tower and the Mirage has an artificial volcano.
Many movies have been set in New York City, but only one represents this city in the most poetic way. It is Manhattan, a 1979 black and white film written and directed by Woody Allen. Allen plays a 40 years old man who hates its job, dates a 17 years old girl (Mariel Hemingway) and whose former wife (Meryl Streep) lives with another woman. Everything changes when he meets his best friend’s fiancé (Diane Keaton).
Beside the ‘classics’ of New York City – Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, 5th Avenue, Wall Street and Broadway – a very special itinerary may include locations where Allen filmed some cult scenes. Some examples? Guggenheim Museum and MOMA; boating in the lake in Central Park and, finally, sitting on the bench in Sutton Square looking at Queensborough Bridge and at the city’s skyline. Here is where Allen said: ‘This is really a great city’. I don’t care what anyone says’. Manhattan is the film in which Woody Allen declared its love to NYC, and made everybody able to share this emotion.