Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

Follow in the footsteps of The English Patient

Sweeping the board at the 69th Academy Awards, The English Patient was one of the biggest movies of 1996. But Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche weren’t the only stars of the film. Playing just as large a role was the sweeping Italian scenery, with key parts of the story taking place against a stunning Tuscan backdrop.

Director Anthony Minghella spent weeks in Tuscany searching for the perfect monastery to film in. Finally, he discovered Monastero di Sant'Anna near Pienza. The movie begins within its sandstone walls (which you can explore for yourself), before heading west to Viareggio, a bustling fishing town, where the scenes in the emergency field hospital were filmed.

Tuscany didn’t just star in the slow scenes. In a nerve-wrecking scene we see a major character racing to defuse a bomb planted under the bridge at Ripafratta, a sleepy hamlet near Pisa.

Thankfully, if you ever visit Ripafratta, it will be under much more relaxing circumstances. The River Serchio races through the valley under the watchful eye of the fortress that has held a strategic stronghold on Mount Pisano for centuries. It may still be standing, but the fortress holds as many battle scars as The English Patient himself. Both serve as a reminder of how lucky we are to live in times of peace in Tuscany.