07 May, 2009
Sorry for the delay, but now back to Montepulciano...
It was lovely. My trip back to the States last month was brilliant, but it was jam-packed, busy as anything, and I was exhausted at the end. Italy, on the other hand, was like one, big, spa visit :) I felt so rested and focused when I came back, and Montepulciano was certainly the highlight of the trip.
We drove from Siena to Montepulciano and on the way we stopped in Montecino and Pienza, both cities famous for their red wine and peccorino (I'm sure I'm spelling that wrong) cheese...so good). The countryside of Tuscany was beautiful; rolling green hills, tall cyprus trees lining the drives of vineyard after vineyard, and ancient walled cities every 20km or so, one of which was Montepulciano.
I made my father pull over at one point so I could get a picture from the road as we approached the city, as I'm sure it'll be an establishing shot in New Moon. The city sits on top of a hill and while it's gorgeous in hues of orange, red and brown amongst the greenery, it is rather ominous and forbidding. That's the point of these hill-fort towns though, to protect them against invaders and be forbidding; that's precisely what Montepulciano does. It certainly 'sets the scene.'
After navigating the incredibly confusing, centuries-old roads (seriously, I'm amazed my father didn't kick me out of the car for leading him astray as his navigator). I then spent the next three days wandering these alleys, photographing as many of them as possible (there are 60ish photos on my webshots album, but I took 402. Yeah, 402.), and enjoying the quiet peacefulness of the city while sampling its fabulous food and wine :)
On my second day there I was sitting in the Piazza Grande working my way through a film theory book with a glass of red and enjoying the general splendor of the beautiful day and the striking architecture that would soon be turned into a film set. Behind me I noticed a sign in front of the Information Center for the town, and as I approached it I could see it was the call for extras auditions for New Moon. The men one day, and the women and children the following day.
I went into the Info Center and asked one of the employees there a bunch of questions about Montepulciano's participation in the filming. She hadn't heard of the books, but she said she did notice that they were going to be particularly busy during that week, despite that usually being a fairly quiet tourism time for them. She said that she had been handling some of their hotel bookings, and that she was also helping out booking accomodation and other odds and ends for the film crew.
It was clear pretty quickly that she didn't know what the town was in for. I told her I had heard about a gathering of the Italian fans that was going to take place at the end of filming and she just said 'that's nice. We're excited about the tourism.' It will be neat to talk to her after the filming, and again perhaps a year from now to see how tourism has increased due to the Twilight connection.
Anyway, I got some good quotes from her and a couple of leads about where filming might happen around town, so I donned my camera again and returned to wandering the streets of Montepulciano.
Obviously the Piazza Grande will be used. That will be the busy square that Bella runs through just as the clock (conveniently on the tower) strikes noon. There are two alleys on either side of the main building, and both are fairly atmospheric, but I'm not convinced that they'll be the ones used in the film. Looking at the front of the building, the alley on the left is the town's public toilets, and the alley on the right is a cash machine... practical, yes, but not very visually dynamic. You can see on the pictures though just how they might be dressed, or how the camera angle could change to include only those elements that the filmmakers want.
The other building that they are supposedly using (none of this is confirmed, I'm just going on Montepulciano's tourism board), is the Palazzo Selimbini. It's about a ten minute walk straight downhill from the Piazza Grande. Sadly it wasn't open, and honestly, I'm not even sure what it is yet (hotel? Restaurant? Bank? They've all come up on my searches, but the sites are in Italian... yeah... let me know if anyone finds out). But I took pictures anyway. It is a forboding front, so it could be part of the Volturi headquarters, and there's a really good-looking alley (yes, I became a connoseuir of alleys on this trip) right next to it... so who knows?
And the final day I climbed up the clock tower building to the terrace and took some photos from there of the gorgeous scenery. It was also a national holiday (literally, such is my life... of course it was a national holiday), Italian Liberation day, so there was a band in the square, and it was the most blue-sky day we'd had since we got there.
It was definitely a brilliant town, and it is how I pictured Volterra in my mind. I'm not certain why it was Montepulciano instead, but if it projects the right feeling, is believeable, and nothing makes you say 'oh that's just not an ancient fortress-city in Italy'... then it's good. For all intents and purposes it's perfect... but then again, I haven't been to the actual Volterra, now have I?
Anywho... my webshots are here, please don't reproduce them without credit and permission. Cheers!