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Posts from the ‘Travel’ Category

All Eyes on Italy – Filming locations of Succession, The Morning Show, House of Gucci and now White Lotus

[UPDATE The White Lotus season two was filmed at the Four Seasons at San Domenico Palace (above), Taormina on the Italian island of Sicily. The hotel is set in a 14 century former convent overlooking the Ionian sea, Mount Etna and a Greek amphitheatre. The setting for the HBO series follows on from a glut of Italian locations featuring in American productions last year. For more read on. ]

La Foce, Tuscany HBO Go Succession

Italy must have been crawling with famous actors and film crews this year. From television series Succession and The Morning Show to the House of Gucci movie, Italy was the setting for several scenes on the small and big screens. While you may have vicariously been under the Tuscan sun and on a Roman holiday by watching this winter, here are the locations you can visit when restrictions are finally lifted.

Tuscany

The penultimate episode of HBO’s Succession season three sees the super rich Roy family on who the show centres, travel from New York to Italy. The aptly named Emily FitzRoy founder of exclusive travel company Bellini was enlisted to find locations. 

Firstly in Tuscany, or Chiantishire as the episode is called – the region’s portmanteau nickname in the 1990s referencing the red wine and the English home county “shires”. Logan Roy’s (Brian Cox) ex-wife and Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Roman’s (Kieran Culkin) mother, Caroline Collingwood (Harriet Walter), gets re married and the setting is two private estates that are available to rent in real life. 

La Foce between Florence and Rome and overlooking the bucolic Val d’Orcia is where Caroline’s al fresco drinks party takes place. These terraced, formal gardens are open to visitors on certain days from May to November. 

And the yellow hued Villa La Foce is where most of the Roy family stay (and is available to rent from 35,000 euros a week FitzRoy tells me). The estranged Kendall and his children stay at one of the estate’s other properties, Belvedere Piccolo, which includes *that* swimming pool which can be rented at around 1,650 euros a week.

HBO GO -SUCCESSION S3 – Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Mcfayden) at Villa Cetinale, Tuscany

The wedding takes place at 17th century, Villa Cetinale near Siena. The 13 bedroom Baroque style villa is available to rent also from 35,000 euros a week FitzRoy says. The spectacular gardens, where the reception takes place, are also open to visitors by appointment only when the villa is not let.

Caroline’s “bachelorette party” takes place in the pretty hilltop, walled town of Cortona. About an hour’s drive away in Pienza, the Roy siblings are filmed meeting at La Terrazza del Chiostro restaurant where the panoramic views from the terrace are main draw.

HBO GO – Succession S3 – Caroline (Harriet Walter) and Shiv (Sarah Snook) in Cortona, Tuscany

Lake Como

Tech tycoon Lukas Matsson’s (Alexander Skarsgard) luxurious lair is Villa La Cassinella on the western shore of Lake Como. Logan and Roman arrive by helicopter at the villa’s private landing pad and then take a boat across the lake to Cassinella. “They arrived as any guest would, you cannot arrive by car – the only other alternative is by sea plane,” FitzRoy tells me. Although it costs upwards of 130,000 euros a week to rent, Fitzroy says the property gets booked up years in advance.

Villa La Cassinella, Lake Como HBO GO Succession S3 Lukas Mattson (Alexander Skarsgard) and Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin)

Filming also took place along this stretch of Lake Como for Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci movie. Villa Balbiano built in the 16th century stands in for Aldo Gucci’s (Al Pacino) house. Fast forward to the 21st century and the waterside villa is available for private rental at 175,000 Euros per week. Inside are original frescoes, museum worthy antiques and six suites designed by fashionable hotel designer Jacques Garcia.

Don’t look for the villa from Apple TV+’s The Morning Show here though. In the second season shamed anchorman Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) is seen hiding out in a grand villa that appears to be on the shores of Lake Como where Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) tracks him down. Filming actually took place at a private school in California however with drone shots of Lake Como added in.

Milan

In the House of Gucci, Rodolfo’s (Jeremy Irons) imagined home is the striking 1930s Villa Necchi Campiglio. Set in private gardens in the centre of Milan it is now a museum. 

On an early date in the film, Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) and Patrizia Reggiana (Lady Gaga) visit the gloriously ornate Galleria Vittorio Emanuele 11 shopping arcade between the Duomo and Teatro alla Scala. The restaurant they pass there, Savini, which Reggiana says is “too expensive” has been a Milanese stalwart for composers and opera singers since 1867. When I visited a few years ago there was a quaintly named “Lunch for Ladies in Shopping” set menu and Savini’s website currently states, “an elegant dress code is appreciated”.

Rome

Both Pacino and Gaga’s characters visit the real life Gucci store on Via Condotti, near the Spanish Steps, which is packed with designer boutiques. The Guccis opened their first shop outside their native Florence in Rome although the current day boutique is a few doors down from the original.

Also in Rome, the picturesque Church of Santa Maria in Portico in Campitelli is where the Maurizio and Patrizia wedding was filmed although in reality the couple were married in Milan.

Gressoney

Adam Driver and Lady Gaga as Maurizio and Patrizia Gucci in House of Gucci. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.

In the film Maurizio evades the police on his motorbike and crosses over the snowy Swiss border to St Moritz. Filming actually took place in the Italian Alps, at the Gressoney-Saint-Jean and Gressoney-La-Trinite in the Aosta Valley. Although scenic, the resorts are far less glitzy than St Moritz and the runs are for advanced skiers only being mainly red and black as well as off-piste.

Incidentally, founder of the fashion house, Guccio Gucci, was once a bell boy at The Savoy in London. Author of the book House of Gucci Sara Gay Forden says Guccio’s experience of handling The Savoy guests’ expensive luggage inspired him to create the Gucci fashion brand. The Savoy has temporarily restyled its Royal Suite in homage to the Gucci house.

[This post was originally posted in January 2022.]

[Event Cancelled] Take a Tennis Masterclass with Emma Raducanu at this Luxury Resort in the Maldives

Tennis star Emma Raducanu

[UPDATE: Emma Raducanu will no longer be visiting the Amilla Maldives Resort for this event. Emma’s tennis clinic had been due to take place on October 27th.]

Former US Open champion Emma Raducanu will be visiting Amilla Maldives Resort and Residences this autumn to share her skills with guests. The British tennis player whose mother is Chinese and father Romanian will be visiting Amilla Maldives Resort in Baa Atoll, Maldives, as part of Amilla’s Festival of Life running from October 25th until November 1st. 

Emma will offer guests a 60-minute tennis clinic at the resort’s court, set in the jungle at the heart of the island and recently refurbished to US Open standards. She will also attend a meet and greet event at the resort, and hopes to encourage even more people of all ages to play tennis. 

“I’m delighted to discover the Maldives for the first time and I would like to thank Amilla Maldives Resort and Residences for this opportunity. I will share my experience with the guests and have an amazing time there,” says Emma.

Emma’s masterclass for guests is being organised in conjunction with LUX Tennis, the operator of Amilla’s tennis activities. Amilla Maldives regularly hosts tennis pros throughout the year and has a regular resident pro on hand to coach resort guests. 

To secure a spot or find out more email stay@amilla.com.

 

What it’s like inside Buckingham Palace – you can visit the 19 State Rooms over the Summer, including a special Platinum Jubilee exhibition

Buckingham Palace. Credit: Andrew Holt. Copyright The Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

[FURTHER UPDATE The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace will reopen to visitors on Thursday, 22 September. The Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace and the Royal Mews will not reopen to the public in 2022. The special displays at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse marking the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II will not reopen.]

[UPDATE The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are closed until further notice following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8th. The Queen’s coffin is being brought to Buckingham Palace from Scotland on the evening of September 13th and will rest in the Bow Room and then the Throne Room for family and staff respectively to pay their respects. The Queen’s coffin will leave Buckingham Palace at 2.22pm on September 14th to lie in in state at Westminster Hall. Rest in Peace your Majesty]

Walking up the red carpeted, gold leafed, double pronged Grand Staircase, it’s hard not to channel “You shall go to the ball!” I’m at Buckingham Palace to visit the State Rooms which are open to the public this summer, until October 2nd, for the first time since 2019. Chopstix had a preview of the self guided tour – a week later Jeff Bezos apparently booked on the Exclusive Evening Tour.

The State Rooms, where the British royal family meet and entertain official visitors, lie deep beyond the famous façade, in the West Wing of the Palace. Entry for the paying public (tickets for adults are £30 with concessions available) is not through the front gates but at the side on Buckingham Palace Road. Though once through “airport-style security” (where they are much more polite than at any airport I’ve been to) we access the same grand rooms as the dignitaries.

But first we’re given a few rules – no chewing of gum (“you can’t imagine where we find it”), no photographs of the State Rooms and no loos until the end of the tour. 

Buckingham Palace Grand Staircase. Photographer: Derry Moore. The Royal Collection Trust Her Majesty Elizabeth II

First taste of the splendour is the aptly named Grand Staircase. The theatrical look is not accidental – the staircase was designed, like all The State Rooms, by John Nash who had a background in theatre set design. George 1V commissioned Nash to transform the then Buckingham House into a palace. Even the most jaded person couldn’t fail to be awed by the sheer magnificence and exquisite craftsmanship.

The self-guided tour (the free audio guide gives interesting insight into the history, art and design details) loops through the 19 State Rooms. Each room flows on to the next and the dramatic Throne Room comes so early on it can take you by surprise. Through the glorious in its own right Green Drawing Room my eye is drawn to two prominently placed thrones in the next room. 

Buckingham Palace Green Drawing Room. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

The theatrics are dialled up to maximum in the Throne Room: wall to wall crimson red with several crystal chandeliers and of course, thrones. One is embroidered “ER II” and the other, poignantly, “P” for the late Prince Philip. Fans of Prince William and Kate Middleton will recognise the room as the setting for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding portraits.

Buckingham Palace Throne Room. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2022

We are gently guided one way through the Palace by a subtly roped off areas. Uniformed staffers are positioned along the route, probably to check we don’t touch or photograph anything but all unfailingly friendly. 

The Picture Gallery has recently been renovated as part of a massive repair plan for the Palace. The long, glass roofed room is lined with works by the world’s most famous painters including Rembrandt, Rubens and Vermeer. 

Buckingham Palace Picture Gallery. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2022

The presence of Queen Victoria looms large in the next room, the East Gallery, which is packed with portraits of the monarch and her family. Each year the Summer Opening includes a special display in the Ball Supper Room, commissioned by Victoria and based between the East Gallery and the Ballroom. 

For 2022 in celebration of the Queen’s seventy year reign the exhibition is Platinum Jubilee: The Queen’s Accession featuring portraits taken by official Royal photographer, the late Dorothy Wilding. 

Wildings’ photographs were the basis for Queen’s image on British stamps, bank notes and coins. The portraits were also distributed to British embassies around the world.

Dorothy Wilding portrait of the Queen. Royal Collection Trust/All Rights Reserved

Past the exhibition the tour resumes in the enormous Ballroom, commissioned by Queen Victoria as she was running out of space for guests in the Blue Drawing Room. Today the lavish space is used for state banquets and investitures.

Following on from here the rest of the State Rooms overlook the Palace’s vast grounds. While there’s an initial urge to gawp at the Queen’s back garden, the sheer magnificence of the interiors ultimately keeps your interest inside. This run of rooms is the grandest including the Music Room, originally known as the Bow Drawing Room, with its striking blue columns and where Prince Charles was christened, and culminating in the ravishing White Drawing Room which includes a secret door used by the royals.

Downstairs, we walk through the Marble Hall which was created specifically to house marble sculptures. At the bottom of the stairs themselves is a full length sculpture of Mars and Venus carved from a single block.

Buckingham Palace and gardens. The Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

The tour then leads out through the Bow Room to the garden where, conveniently, there’s a cafe set up on the West Terrace. Overlooking the lawn and lake, it’s a pleasant spot to sit for a coffee in a Buckingham Palace branded paper cup.

For more amusing Buckingham Palace branded merchandise there’s a large shop strategically placed on the way out of the grounds. You may also be tempted to stock up on an (admittedly cute) stuffed toy corgi or a bottle of Her Majesty’s gin. 

As a bonus the way out is a seven minute walk around the edge of the gardens. Exiting on a busy London road which leads to “the Queen’s favourite hotel” The Goring in one direction and Hyde Park Corner in the other, no carriage awaits me. Before I set off on foot though I do feel as if I should check for a pumpkin with six mice.

https://www.rct.uk/visit/buckingham-palace

The new Raffles London hotel is Licensed to Thrill

Raffles London at the OWO

The instructions were to arrive at “the Spies Entrance” in Whitehall at 6 o’clock sharp. This intriguing missive was not an assignation with M or Moneypenny but an invite to take a “first look” at Raffles London at the OWO (the Old War Office) – the Singapore hotel brand’s inaugural UK outpost, owned in part by the Hinduja Group.

Completed in 1906, the building was the centre of operations through two world wars and home to the British secret service. Lawrence of Arabia had a desk here and James Bond creator Ian Fleming was a regular visitor. It’s no coincidence that several Bond films had scenes shot at the OWO including Skyfall where Daniel Craig’s 007 stands on top of the building looking moodily over the rooftops. Alas the hotel will not be open in time for the 60th anniversary of James Bond in film, October 2022.

Raffles London at the OWO

As it turns out the Spies Entrance, formerly frequented by agents, is discreetly positioned at the back of the building and is now the access for the Raffles’ luxury apartments. The main hotel entry is on Whitehall itself, the road running between the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square that also gives its name to the wider area. 

While the Edwardian Baroque façade of this vast building is currently hidden behind hoardings, once inside the sheer scale of the place is immediately noticeable. And although the transformation into a 120 roomed luxury hotel is still in progress, what’s already apparent is the restored original features such as oak panelled walls, grand fireplaces and cornicing on the soaringly high ceilings.  

From the entrance hall leads an impressive marble staircase on which successive statesman have stepped. Overhead is a balcony where Winston Churchill would address the staff, Raffles London managing director Philippe Leboeuf (who has moved from the Mandarin Oriental Group) tells us. And on the upper floors the mosaic laid corridors – some two miles of them – were once abuzz with running messenger boys. 

Raffles London at the OWO

The former secretary of state’s office that at varying times belonged to Lord Kitchener, David Lloyd George, Churchill and John Profumo is being turned into a sprawling suite. The space directly overlooks Horse Guards, the historic military headquarters and home to the Household Cavalry Museum. 

We’re also shown inside one of the turrets facing Whitehall complete with huge, curved glass windows which is a spectacular space for a guest room. In the middle portion of the hotel overlooking a large courtyard another suite, The Poppy, will occupy three storeys.

On completion the hotel will have a total of eleven restaurants and bars to be rolled out gradually. Three of them – a brasserie, a fine dining room and a chef’s table – will be overseen by chef Mauro Colagreco who has a three Michelin starred restaurant in France.

Raffles London at the OWO

A new addition is four subterranean floors underneath the existing building that will house a spa and health club including a swimming pool, gym, yoga studio, sauna and steam, partnering with Guerlain and Pillar.

Raffles at The OWO is due to open between this December and March 2023. The hotel will also be open several days a year for tours, making the building and its fascinating history accessible to the public (as well as guests) for the first time.

Where was Persuasion filmed? The Netflix Locations in the Henry Golding Film You Can Visit

Persuasion. (L to R) Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot, Henry Golding as Mr. Elliot in Persuasion. Cr. Nick Wall/Netflix © 2022

Netflix’s new production of Persuasion which includes Crazy Rich Asians’ Henry Golding in its ensemble cast, has had Jane Austen purists reaching for the smelling salts. Austen’s final completed novel follows the travails of heartbroken heroine Anne Elliot (Dakota Johnson) who had previously been “persuaded” to reject the marriage proposal of Captain Frederick Wentworth as he had no status or fortune. 

When Wentworth re appears several years later Anne is also been wooed by the charming and handsome William Elliot (Henry Golding) who as her distant cousin is heir to her family home, Kellynch Hall in Somerset, south west England. Netflix’s version has been criticised for gauchely including modern day language and breaking the fourth wall with knowing quips direct to the camera à la Fleabag. 

But although the adaptation has sparked controversy over its inauthenticity, what Netflix has stayed true to is the locations. Austen’s novel was partly set in the south west England settings of Lyme Regis in Dorset and Bath in Somerset – one of the rare instances the author referenced real life places in her fiction. And both were used as filming locations for the Netflix production.

Persuasion. (L to R) Henry Golding as Mr. Elliot, Cosmo Jarvis as Captain Frederick Wentworth in Persuasion. Cr. Nick Wall/Netflix © 2022

The streaming company has found that the settings of its dramas are a key part of their appeal to viewers. In a press release last month a spokesperson announced that the location of a Netflix series or film frequently becomes the destination that viewers most want to visit. The release goes on to say that viewers also have an increased interest in the well known landmarks, history and food and drink of said locations as a result and “Now we want to find new ways to connect members to the stories, and the places, that they love.”

So Netflix recently partnered with SANDEMANs New Europe Tours for a series of free guided walking tours of Paris, Madrid and London that not only shared the history of the cities but highlighted locations from Netflix shows such as Emily in Paris and Bridgerton and revealed behind the scenes insights. 

Time will tell if the tours will be extended and if Persuasion will be added to the roster. In the meantime, a number of locations in the production are open to the public. Kellynch Hall, which Anne’s vain and feckless father Sir Walter (Richard E Grant) has to rent to Admiral Croft in order to make money, is alas a private house (Trafalgar Park in Wiltshire). But here are the locations you can visit.

Lyme Regis, Dorset

Persuasion. Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot in Persuasion. Cr. Nick Wall/Netflix © 2022

Jane Austen was apparently a fan of “Lyme”, a picturesque and historic seaside town on the south coast of England, and its surrounding countryside. The author stayed there at least twice with her family – as her letters record – and included the location in Persuasion. 

In the novel she wrote “ the remarkable situation of the town, the principal street almost hurrying into the water, the walk to the Cobb, skirting round the pleasant little bay, which, in the season, is animated with bathing machines and company; the Cobb itself, its old wonders and new improvements, with the very beautiful line of cliffs stretching out to the east of the town, are what the stranger’s eye will seek; and a very strange stranger it must be, who does not see charms in the immediate environs of Lyme, to make him wish to know it better.”

The town features in several key scenes including where Anne first encounters William. Lyme Cobb – a distinctive harbour wall built to protect the town – is also central. Notably when the party are out for a stroll and Anne’s friend Louisa Musgrove falls. The exact location is thought to be the precarious “granny’s teeth” stone steps that link the upper and low levels of the Cobb.

Lyme Regis has several sand and pebble beaches and cliff top walks which also feature in the film. The scenic South West Coast Path National Trail passes through the town and takes in the Golden Cap, the highest point on the south coast with stunning views over Lyme Bay.

The area is also known for its dramatic Jurassic Coastline – one of the most important sites in the world for fossil hunters. 

Lyme Regis Museum, built on the site of 19th century fossil collector and paleontologist Mary Anning’s home, also includes several Austen artifacts loaned by the author’s descendants.

Austen is said to have stayed on Broad Street and a plaque on Pyne House there reads “This is the most likely lodging of Jane Austen”. No doubt it will now become an Instagram hotspot for Netflix Persuasion fans despite the brutal reviews.

Chenies Manor, Buckinghamshire

For the Musgrove family’s Uppercross estate two locations were used. The scenes for “the great house” were filmed at Brympton House, Somerset which is only accessible via private hire. The interiors of Uppercross Cottage – home to Anne’s sister Mary and her husband, Charles Musgrove – were filmed at the sprawling tudor manor house, Chenies, in Rickmansworth.

Guided tours detailing the house’s colourful history – described by architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner as “a fascinating puzzle” – are available, bookable in advance. And the pretty gardens play host to plant and flower festivals in the summer months. 

West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

Persuasion. (L to R) Lydia Rose Bewley as Penelope Clay, Richard E. Grant as Sir Walter Elliot, Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot, Yolanda Kettle as Elizabeth Elliot in Persuasion. Cr. Nick Wall/Netflix © 2022

This beautiful Palladian style house stands in for the grand residence of Lady Dalrymple and her daughter – relations of the Elliots. The bucolic parkland was also the filming location for Uppercross’s woods and meadows – setting for Anne and her friends’ frequent walks.

The house was commissioned in the 18th century by Sir Francis Dashwood, founder of the Hell Fire Club. Not the high school Dungeons and Dragons group from Stranger Things Season Four but the louche club for upper class rakes otherwise known as the Order of the Friars of St. Francis of Wycombe.

The house is open to the public from June to August and the grounds from April to August.

Osterley Park and House, Greater London

Persuasion. Cosmo Jarvis as Captain Frederick Wentworth in Persuasion. Cr. Nick Wall/Netflix © 2022

Standing in for Bath’s assembly rooms is this Georgian country estate on the far reaches of  West London (you can reach it on the Picadilly tube line en route to Heathrow). The house was originally built in the 1570s but transformed in the 1760s and is preserved as it would have been in the 1780s. Its Entrance Hall and Long Gallery (above) is the setting for Bath society gatherings in the Netflix production. Check before visiting as the property is closed for filming (rumoured to be Bridgerton season three) on some dates this summer.

Bath

Persuasion. (L to R) Nikki Amuka-Bird as Lady Russell, Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot in Persuasion. Cr. Nick Wall/Netflix © 2022

The city renowned for its honey stone Georgian architecture and highly fashionable during Austen’s time makes several appearances in the film. The striking façade of Royal Crescent features in a scene of Anne and Lady Russell (Nikki Amuka-Bird) walking together in intense discussion. The two were also filmed on the colonnaded Bath Street (above) – the high street store windows propped with Regency finery and renamed Madame LeFroy Haberdasher and Milliner. Bath Street is also where you’ll find the entrance to the Thermae Spa – a modern incarnation of the ancient hot springs that drew visitor’s to the town in Austen’s day.

Gravel Walk, a footpath which links Royal Crescent with Queen’s Square, appears both in the book and the film location as the backdrop for – without giving anything away – the most important scene of all.

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