Movies in Sorrento Coast and Sorrento Coast Museum of Cinema

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More than a hundred films have been shot in the splendid landscapes of the Sorrento Coast: from short movies and music videos to real film sets. The world of cinema has certainly not been able to resist its "Grande Bellezza", perhaps involving its viewers not only in a compelling plot but also in dreamlike landscapes. So why not rediscover some of the films shot here and maybe plan an "Itinerary to discover the Cinema of the Sorrento Coast".

Carmine Gallone: the first movie director to film in Sorrento Coast

Carmine Gallone was the first one to believe in the cinematographic power of the Sorrento Coast. He is best known for his film Scipio Africanus: The Defeat of Hannibal (1937), which was strongly supported by Mussolini at the time.

He decided to shoot some of his films on the Peninsula, specifically in Sorrento, his father's town of origin. His movie Le Campane di Sorrento - Sorrento's Bells (1914) is the oldest shot in Sorrento Coast. 

In the same year, again in Sorrento, he shot some scenes for the documentary film Povera Leda! (Poor Leda!), starring the silent film actress Leda Gys playing herself. 

And again, Gallone's filming returned to Sorrento for Marionette in 1939 and Primo Amore (First Love) in 1941. 

The Blind Woman of Sorrento: before a romance and then three movies

Describing, recounting and then staging the beautiful landscapes of the Peninsula is La Cieca di Sorrento (The Blind Woman of Sorrento), an intricate novel written by Francesco Mastriani and published in 1852. The book was followed by three film editions, and its protagonist has become a saying still used today.

The first film was shot in Sorrento Coast in 1935, directed by Nunzio Malasomma. The cast also included a young and debutant Anna Magnani in the role of notary Basileo's lover. The film also features a beautiful soundtrack with the song Dorme Surriento, sung against the backdrop of romantic sails in front of the coast.

This was followed by the second film in 1952, directed by Giacomo Gentilomo, and a third in 1963, directed by Nik Nostro. This last one seems to be less faithful to the book, but the first of the three is filmed in Technicolor.

Totò: Il Principe della Risata in Sorrento Coast

In 1952, Totò a Colori (Totò in colour) was one of the first full-length Italian films released in colour. It is an anthology of the most famous films of Antonio De Curtis's great comedian, better known as Totò.

As the most ardent fans of the Prince of Laughter may already know, the film's opening scene was shot in Vico Equense. Precisely, the director Steno found a suitable location in the village of Santa Maria del Toro, near the splendid sixteenth-century sanctuary dedicated to the Madonna.

But Totò's cinematographic references to Sorrento Coast do not end here. We cannot avoid thinking of his 1953 film Un Turco Napoletano (A Neapolitan Turk). Although the film was shot almost exclusively without any exterior shots, the story had the 'Principe Della Risata' relaxing in Sorrento in the Bagni della Regina Giovanna (Queen Giovanna Baths).

Bread, Love and Sorrento Coast

Scandal in Sorrento (original title Pane, Amore e...) is a delightful 1955 film directed by Dino Risi. An unforgettable movie, especially for the famous symbolic scene in which the protagonists, Vittorio De Sica and Sophia Loren, dance the Mambo Italiano: a representation in the world of Italian comedy in the 1950s.

The film is the third, in chronological order, of the tetralogy: preceded by Bread, Love and Fantasy in 1953 and Bread, Love and Jealousy in 1954 - both directed by Luigi Comencini - and followed by Bread, Love and Andalusia in 1958, directed by Javier Setò and supervised by Vittorio De Sica

All four films narrate the adventures of Antonio Carotenuto, played by De Sica, first a marshal and then a knight, who is always involved in love affairs as a hopeless and inveterate womanizer. In the first two films, he struggles with the Bersagliera, played by Gina Lollobrigida. In this movie, he encounters the fiery Smargiassa, played by Sophia Loren, at the height of her busty beauty. 

The first two films are black and white and were set in a fictional village in central Italy (the authentic Castel San Pietro Romano). While this film enjoys technicolour and is set in our lively Sorrento Coast. The film was actually shot in a warm, florid and flamboyant Sorrento

The area and even the palace where the protagonists' house is set still exists today and is located in Via Sopra le Mura in Sorrento's Marina Piccola. Here in Marina Piccola, the scenes in which the Smargiassa sells fresh fish at the counter were also filmed. Furthermore, the villa where Marshal Carotenuto is housed and the film ends is Villa Giuseppina in Meta di Sorrento, also known as Villa Cosenza, built-in 1839 and of the Vanvitellian school. 

Pasolini’s Decameron on Sorrento’s hills

In 1971, the film adaptation of Boccaccio's Decameron was released in cinemas (with many problems). Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, a thinker and philosopher who chose Sorrento Coast for some film scenes. The scenes in question concerned Lorenzo and Lisabetta's episode and were filmed in a citrus grove in Via Trarivi near the Colli di San Pietro.

 When it was released, the film had problems with censorship and was banned to minors under 18, while in Germany, it has considerable success, winning the Berlin Festival. In Sorrento, it was not shown until 1996, during an exhibition at the Chiesa dell'Addolorata in Via San Cesareo. Although no one in the church had anything to say, it seems to have been the only Pasolini screening in a sacred place.

New German Cinema in Sorrento Coast

In 1971, German director Werner Fassbinder shot his tenth film Warnung vor einer heiligen Nutte (Beware of the Holy Whore) in Sorrento, primarily set in the interiors and on the terraces of the Hotel Bellevue Syrene. In one scene of the film, the unmistakable silhouette of Punta Scutolo appears through a window.

A couple of scenes also show Marina del Cantone (the jetty) and Marina Piccola (the steps). The boat scene is also shot in Marina Piccola, where the buildings of the Hotel Excelsior Vittoria overlooking the cliff.

The helicopter scene is shot at the Tore heliport and a "car ride" between Caprile and Santa Maria Della Neve (with Monte San Costanzo in the background). There are also shots inside the Correale Museum (mainly on the stairs).

The curious thing about this film is that the screenplay places the whole story in Spain, while the locations are all shot in the splendid Sorrento scenery.

Sorrento Coast Museum of Cinema in Vico Equense

These films and other curiosities about Cinema and Sorrento Coast can be found in the Museum of the Cinema of the territory and the Sorrento Peninsula. Opened in Vico Equense in 2014, it is a permanent exhibition of film culture with a collection of images, posters, period documents and multimedia evidence (including period projectors and cameras). A tribute to the long tradition of filmmaking in Vico Equense and Sorrento Coast.

The aim is to revive the ancient bond between the seventh art and Sorrento Coast. The structure was built thanks to funds allocated by the European project "Promorecuperavalorizza Penisola".

The museum displays dozens of posters and original photo cuts of films shot on the Sorrento Coast. Among the memorabilia on display are a Pathé projector from the late 19th century and the magazine "Cinema Nuovo" with two divas on the cover: Anna Magnani and Silvana Pampanini.

The history of the link between cinema and the Sorrento Coast has deep roots. From cinema birth to present days, the beauty of the Coast's landscapes has been chosen as a natural film set by directors from all over the world.

The importance of this relationship is underlined by the documentary Cinema in Costiera by Giuseppe Alessio Nuzzo, which is filmed continuously in the exhibition rooms. It retraces the history of cinema on the Coast through images and memories of the protagonists of the time.


In short, these places of incomparable natural beauty and great past acquire more value also behind the camera.




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