The Venice of “Don’t Look Now”
If like us you’re a bit of a movie fan, then this section is for you. The Venice of Don’t Look Now is encapsulated in a 1973 British-Italian thriller directed by Nicolas Roeg, adapted from a short story by Daphne du Maurier.
It was filmed at a variety of locations throughout Venice, showing a seedier, grittier side of the city.
In the evening, inside the dank alleyways is a silent, eerie feeling.
Keen to get away from the glitz of the “must see” sites of Venice, we organized our routes around the city to include locations from the movie. This had the added bonus of taking us off-track to areas that we probably would not otherwise have visited.
Ponte di Scalzi
Our first location from the Venice of “Don’t Look Now” was the Ristorante Roma, right next to the Ponte degli Scalzi (vaporetto stop Ferrovia).
This restaurant is where Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland first meet the two psychic sisters early on in the film.
Unfortunately, this restaurant doesn’t get very favourable reviews, so we declined the waiter’s invitation to find us a table. Instead, I took a couple of pictures of the outside terrace from the bridge overlooking the restaurant.
This is the bridge shown in the movie (above). Here, local onlookers were filmed watching Julie Christie being taken away in the water ambulance just outside the restaurant.
Chiesa di San Nicholo dei Mendicoli
Our next location was the church of San Nicholo dei Mendicoli. This is in the Dorsoduro district of the city on the south-west edge of Venice.
In Don’t Look Now this is the church where Donald Sutherland is found precariously trying to position a statue outside the church from the top of a ladder. He later has a near-fatal fall inside the church.
Julie Christie and the two sisters also appear in this scene.
We took a vaporetto to San Basilio in the south, and walked westwards as best as we could tell (our map didn’t extend this far out). What we found was a university area, with plenty of relatively cheap snack bars and cafes.
This area is really picturesque, with lots of narrow canals and small bridges.
When we found the church, it had unfortunately just closed for the afternoon. It looked a little run-down, pretty much as it had looked when they made the movie in 1973.
As portrayed in the film, it was actually restored in the early seventies. Since then, nearly another 50 years has passed and another restoration is definitely due.
Palazzo Grimani – The Venice of Don’t Look Now
Our third location was the area immediately surrounding the Palazzo Grimani and the Calle de Mezzo: A tricky area to find in the central Castello district.
In the movie, this is where Donald Sutherland pursues the figure in the red pixie hood, leading up to the climax of the film.
“Don’t Look Now” Film Stills
We were visiting Venice at a similar time of year as when the film was made, and in the evening (or at any time of the day inside the dank alleyways) there is a silent, eerie feeling.
During visiting hours, you can also take a look around the courtyards inside Palazzo Grimani.
Chiesa di San Stae
Our final location was the church at San Stae on the Grand Canal. The vaporetto stops right outside the church, so this spot was a no-brainer to find.
This is where Julie Christie and the sisters arrive by boat in the final scenes of “Don’t Look Now”. Very little has changed here in the intervening 40-odd years.
At the time we arrived, the church was open for visitors. When entering, however, we were asked to pay €3 each for the privilege of walking inside. I’m not an advocate of paying entrance fees to an active place of worship, so we declined.
Incidentally, the area around this church is well worth a wander, with some unique photo opportunities.
There are a few more locations from the movie to discover, but there’s only so much you can pack into a 2-day visit.
If you find any of these places interesting, post a comment in the form below. I can save you some time by sending you a map marked with their precise locations.
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