Like so many holiday areas the Liguria Riviera is synonymous with sun, sea, entertainment and fun. But in the camera's eye the Liguria on the big screen often assumes a more complex, multi-faceted guise. A good start to an ideal cinematographic trip would be the gulf of La Spezia, which was the main set for “Uomini sul fondo” (Men on the Bottom - 1941), a fairly typical film produced under the fascist regime that tells the dramatic story of the rescue of a submarine crew trapped in their boat on the sea bed due to a mechanical fault.


The director Francesco De Robertis, using members of the Italian Navy as actors, managed to limit the propaganda and craft a film that is a forerunner of the neorealism of the post-war period.

Portovenere was the setting for “Cuori nella tormenta” (Troubled Hearts - 1984), a light-hearted comedy starring Marina Suma, Carlo Verdone and Lello Arena. Vernazza hosted the crews shooting “Carmela” (1942), a melodramma with Doris Duranti based on a novella by De Amicis. “Racconti d’estate” (Summer Tales - 1958), shot on the gulf of Tigullio is based on idea by the well-known writer Moravia.

The beaches at Rapallo provided the backdrop for a typical summer sand and sea film which was the forerunner of an extremely successful series of commedies that dominated the genre during the 1980s. Portofino brings us to some of the scenes that have frequently inspired both Italian and foreign film directors over the years.

This is the setting for the Hollywood film “The Barefoot Contessa” (1954), with Ava Gardner and Humphrey Bogart, and “Souvenir d’Italie” (1957) by Antonio Pietrangeli. Michelangelo Antonioni chose Portofino for an episode in his “Beyond the Clouds” (1995), with Sophie Marceau and John Malkovich. “Shamed” (Prelude to Love - 1947), with a very young Vittorio Gassman was shot entirely along the Riviera from Portofino to Nervi. The director, better known for his documentaries, was Giovanni Paolucci, who enchanted the world with the sea along this coast, defining it “as smooth as silk”.

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