My trip to Florence, Italy was another great reminder of what a brilliant concept film tourism is. We got to see all the great sights, but also had some lovely, fun encounters with the locals while running around looking for the locations used while filming the third season of NBC’s Hannibal.
I’ll tell you all about the city and its beautiful art, delicious food, magnificent views in a separate post, but let me start with the main reason me and my travel mate Karl flew over in the first place: NBC’s Hannibal. If you’re a fan of the show and plan to visit Italy some day, this filming location post and map (at the end of this post) is a great way of seeing a lot of the city!
This was my first ever Hannibal filming location, hurray! I found the address on a blog somewhere, but it proved to be false (the garden we visited first looked very much alike, but wasn’t the same one). So, we ended up bothering the locals with screenshots from the show on our first morning in Florence.
“It’s right across the road”, he said. “The gate is probably closed but you can see the garden if you look through the cracks”, he said. Easily enough, we found the (huge!) gate and saw that it was locked. So disappointing! I snapped a few photos and we bothered another local, a polite salesman in a small shop next to the gate to see if he knew anything about the place and how to access it.
“Of course you can go in! It’s a museum. Walk around the building and you’ll find the entrance.”
Duh! A massive entrance on the other side, and we dummies were standing at the back gate being all miserable about it. Well, at least we made it in the end.
The rest is sceneframing history.
The next two shots we completely forgot on the first day, so we went back the next morning. I politely asked the ticket salesman if I could pop in for just a few minutes “as I’d already paid the previous day and even saved the ticket if you’d like to see it.”
“Just go in, I trust you”, he replied, so I went and snapped these two shots. When I came back in, I showed him what my quick visit was all about. His face lit up completely.
“That’s Morpheus! Yes! I called my friend that day and told him that Laurence Fishburne is here, Laurence Fishburne is here! …but he didn’t understand.”
Fun fact: there is no phone booth in the square of Sagrestia Vecchia. You’re all a bunch of liars, filmmakers!
Yay! Framing Gillian! The carousel seems to be permanent, so these photos turned out lovelier than I expected. A very happy day, this one.
Fun fact: “Primavera” by Botticelli is actually here. The room where Hannibal and Will meet in front of it… is not. So, if you’re interested in what it’s like to be a semi-professional filming location traveller like us, here’s a good example.
After queueing to get in we climbed many huge sets of stairs in search of the Botticelli room, but a sign told us that the original room was being restored and that the paintings were temporarily in another. Fine, we thought, let’s go see the paintings and ask someone. With about a million other tourists we stared at Primavera and this chick called Venus’ birth, but the room was nothing like in the show. So we asked a guide. She told us to go back around to the beginning of the huge, huge half-circle of hallways full of incredible paintings and sculptures. We found a familiar looking hallway, but it wasn’t the one we were looking for. We looked at our screenshots. We compared pictures to reality. Nothing matched.
We asked another guide. He told us to follow him, and we half-ran back to the other end of the first hallway, to look at the last room on that side. That wasn’t it either. The guy got confused, and asked two other guides. With broken English and our non-existent Italian skills the five of us tried to make sense of what we wanted exactly. I showed them our previous sceneframes, and they got it. We begged them to let us have two minutes in the room.
“Ha, we would get arrested”, they laughed. “We aren’t kidding”, they added with serious faces.
To convince us, they showed us photos of the original Botticelli hall. Yup. Not the same. At all. But hey, at least the Uffizi gallery courtyard is real and they were really there for this one!
This cathedral is amazing. We kept walking back to it every day – which is actually pretty easy as it’s right in the middle of the city. And of course, I bothered some locals and tourist by crouching in the middle of the street to get these shots.
AKA the Bridge of Feels. It’s the next bridge over from the famous Ponte Vecchio, so good views are a fact.
But sceneframing Jack Crawford’s sad face as he says goodbye to Bella… right in the feels.
A small square in front of Basilica di Santa Maria Novella. I took these photos, Karl spent a few minutes playing a guitar and singing with a homeless man. A good moment, that.
I was on my knees on the ground taking this photo for a couple of minutes. When I got up, a guy approached and asked “excuse me, what are you doing exactly?” so I had to show him a few sceneframes. He started laughing. “I was wondering why the hell are you taking photos of your tablet.”
These two photos are a WIN! We had no idea (neither did the internet) where they filmed the scenes of Hannibal escaping from Jack, all bloody and hurt. The episodes shows only a few seconds of both, so we had to go on with just these two images. We could barely make out the river behind him (there’s the familiar fence and houses in the distance) and figured this has to be somewhere near the bridge (for the film crew’s convenience). So, we took a little walk around the blocks near the river and Ponte Santa Trinita, and tadah! After just half an hour of peeking into dark alleyways, we spotted this one.
And right next to it, this one.
We even posed this photo with Karl. Look. He’s right there with Hannibal!
I was nervous about finding the right platform, but in the end, it was easy. Head for platform three, if you want to stand where Gillian sat.
Look at her sitting. Perfect.
Again, a scene that lasts about 3 seconds in the show… but it’s there. It’s Jack, just before he heads off to the bridge to toss Bella’s ashes into the wind. We decided to try and capture this one between the narrow gap of the sun setting and the city lights coming on. I’m glad we did – I really like the dusk, the lights and the colors.
I also shot this little video as I wanted to capture the incredible, relaxed atmosphere at sunset.
That’s it for Hannibal sceneframes! I still have a few great stories to go with the photos from the Hannibal film starring Anthony Hopkins, but I’ll get to those later.
Here’s the map of Florence with pins pointing to all the filming locations we visited. It includes everything mentioned in this post and the two lovely hotels (Hotel Panama and Hotel Brunelleschi) that we stayed in during our trip. More about those too later!