Then the pernicious charm of Italy worked on her, and, instead of acquiring information, she began to be happy.E.M Forster, A Room with a View
I blame E.M. Forster.
His 1908 novel, A Room with a View, marked the beginning of my enduring love affair with the Italian city of Florence. This was cemented by the sumptuous 1985 film adaptation, which remains one of my favourite movies about Italy.
Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham-Carter) discovers passion while on a trip to Florence and must choose between two suitors. Should it be free-thinking George Emerson (Julian Sands) or her fiancée, the aesthete Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day-Lewis)?
Although Miss Honeychurch may be the heroine of this miracle of a movie, the city of Florence is its star. But where was A Room with a View filmed in Florence?
Follow me on a literary and movie pilgrimage to A Room with a View filming locations in Italy.
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>>> WATCH A ROOM WITH A VIEW ON AMAZON PRIME BEFORE YOUR VISIT TO FLORENCE. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
A Room with a View Film Locations in Florence & Beyond
1. Via dei Girolami, Florence: Not a room with a view
I thought that we were going to see the ArnoLucy Honeychurch, A Room with a View
Charlotte Bartlett (a majestic Maggie Smith) has been promised rooms with Arno River views for herself and her young cousin, Lucy Hornchurch, at the Pensione Bertolini. The opening shot of the movie is the brass nameplate of the pensione, followed by Lucy throwing open the wooden shutters of her room.
But this is not the titular room with a view.
Instead of the south-facing Arno view, she looks down on a narrow street.
In fact, Via dei Girolam is a characterful Florentine street, partly enclosed by arches. But it’s not the River Arno.
2. Hotel Degli Orafi: The Room with a View hotel
So in which hotel was A Room with a View filmed?
At the time of filming, Pensione Quisiana was the primary shooting location for Pensione Bertolini. However, it sustained heavy damage from a car bomb in 1993.
Today, the more upmarket Hotel degli Orafi occupies the same building. Its owners are not ignorant of its cinematic legacy.
Room 414 is its “Room with a View” with a “magnificent terrace offering a unique view over the Arno and the Ponte Vecchio.”
Although room 414 doesn’t come cheap, other room types also offer those coveted River Arno views.
>>> DO YOU FANCY STAYING IN THE ROOM WITH A VIEW HOTEL? CLICK HERE FOR ROOM RATES AND AVAILABILITY
3. Villa di Maiano: Another Pensione Bertolini shooting location
The Red Lounge of Villa di Maiano was used as a second filming location for some of Pension Bertolini’s interiors. This is an 18th Century residence between Fiesole and Settignano, 5km from Florence.
Small groups can make reservations to visit the villa and its gardens.
4. Ponte Vecchio and Florence’s Historic Cityscape: Now that’s what I call a view
It was pleasant to wake up in Florence … to fling wide the windows … to lean out into the sunshine with beautiful hills and trees and marble churches opposite, and, close below, Arno, gurgling against the embankment of the roadE. M. Forster, A Room with a View
Over supper in the pensione, Mr Emerson, a fellow guest, generously offers Lucy and Charlotte the rooms belonging to himself and his son George. This is the first of Lucy’s interactions with the Emersons in Italy.
As Lucy throws open the windows on her first morning in Florence, her view could not be more different than that of Via dei Girolami.
At this early stage of the movie, we are treated to a wonderful establishing shot of the iconic Ponte Vecchio, the most famous of Florence’s bridges. Beyond this is the timeless cityscape of Florence’s historic core, including Brunelleschi’s dome, Giotto’s tower and the medieval skyscraper, the Tower of Arnolfo.
5. Evading the Emersons in Piazza della Santissima Annunziata
I would set an examination paper at Dover and turn back any tourist that couldn’t pass itEleanor Lavish, A Room with a View
In the company of another guest at Pensione Bertolini, the eccentric and opinionated author Eleanor Lavish (Judi Dench), Charlotte starts to explore Florence. They start at Piazza della Santissima Annunziata, the most perfect Renaissance square in the city.
After saluting the Equestrian Monument of Ferdinando I, they spot the Emersons as they are about to enter Loggia dei Servi di Maria. Keen to avoid contact, they hang back, Eleanor believing them to be an inferior breed of tourist and not worthy of the city itself.
6. In Santa Croce without a Baedeker
– The Reverend Mr. Eager: Remember the facts about this church of Santa Croce; how it was built by faith in the full fervour of medievalism.E. M. Forster, A Room with a View
– Mr. Emerson: Built by faith indeed! That simply means the workers weren’t paid properly.
Our next A Room with a View filming location is the Basilica of Santa Croce, one of Florence’s historic landmarks.
In a daring move, Lucy escapes the pensione and makes her way alone to Santa Croce. Whilst admiring the tomb of Dante – Santa Croce is also the final resting place of Michelangelo, Machiavelli and Rossini – she fends off the advances of a would-be guide.
At Giotto’s famous St. Francis fresco cycle, the pomposity of the Reverend Mr Eager is burst by Mr Emerson, who is also visiting the basilica.
7. Saved by George Emerson in Piazza Della Signoria
Isn’t it extraordinary that Italians are so kind, so lovable yet at the same time so violent?Lucy Honeychurch, A Room with a View
We next see our heroine buying photographs in Piazza dell Signoria, at the heart of Florence’s historic centre. The camera zooms out to reveal the expanse of this magnificent square with the façade of Palazzo Vecchio, the Fountain of Neptune and the Loggia dei Lanzi.
We are then treated to close-ups of two of Florence’s best sculptures: Perseus by Benevenuto Cellini and Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabine Women. Behind the loggia, you will find the Uffizi Galleries, home to many of the must-see paintings in Florence.
A fight breaks out and one of the men is fatally stabbed at Lucy’s feet. She faints – as Edwardian women were inclined to do – and in true romantic hero mode, George Emerson swoops in to save her.
There’s a lovely shot at the end of this scene. Lucy and George are overlooking the Arno, framed by the porticos of the Uffizi Galleries and the Arnolfo’s Tower piercing the sky in the background.
8. A romantic clinch in Fiesole
I have a theory that there is something in the Italian landscape which inclines even the most stolid nature to romanceEleanor Lavish, A Room with a View
The setting for one of the final scenes of the first act of A Room with a View is Fiesole. Located high in the Tuscan countryside, this historic village offers one of the best viewpoints of Florence.
A group of guests from the Pensione Bertolini ride in carriages through avenues of cypress trees to Fiesole. Lucy is more interested in the driver making out with his “sister” than the landmarks pointed out by the Reverend Mr Eager.
To the strains of Chi Il Bel Sogno di Doretta from Puccini’s La Rodine, Lucy walks across a wheat field strewn with wild poppies to George, who takes her in his arms for a passionate kiss.
Now that’s what a call a satisfactory end to a holiday in Florence.
Where Was A Room with a View Filmed in Florence? Map of Locations
Do you want to follow in the footsteps of Lucy, George et al? Here’s a handy map of A Room with a View’s filming locations in Florence.
For an interactive map, simply click here or on the image itself.