Europe’s lakes and mountains are home to some stunning scenery. So it’s no surprise that the beauty of the Swiss Alps, the dramatic cliffsides of Lake Garda and the stunning palazzos of Venice have also made their name on the big screen as some of the most memorable locations in in some of our favourite films.
Everyone’s favourite spy, James Bond, is no stranger to some of our favourite spots in Europe, with his adventures through the decades taking him to mountain hideouts and glamourous lakeside villas. In his latest outing for ‘Quantum of Solace’ (2008), northern Italy was very much in the spotlight so there are plenty of locations you can spot on a holiday to the Italian lakes.
Claimed to be one of the most exciting opening scenes in Bond film history, the scene opening ‘Quantum of Solace’ was filmed in the tunnels between Malcesine and Limone in the north of Lake Garda, much on a section of the lakeside road known as the Gardesana Occidentale. If you’re staying in the northern part of the lake you’ll travel through these tunnels. And whatever they say about Italian driving, I’m sure it will be at a more sedate pace than Bond drives this road at! During the filming on Lake Garda there were plenty of scares however, including an accident resulting in an Aston Martin DBS costing £134,000 ending up 55m down at the bottom of the lake after a driver lost control in heavy rain just south of Torbole.
See Lake Garda’s starring role in the clip below:
Of course, Venice was the star in ‘Casino Royale’ (2006) - with the finale taking place on (and under) the waters of the Grand Canal. The Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal is in the middle of the action on the Grand Canal and just a minute’s walk from St. Mark’s Square, which also features at the end of the film when Bond dashes to his beau as he realises he’s been double crossed yet again. How Bond manages to sail a full size yacht down the Grand Canal will remain a mystery, I suppose that’s something ‘Q’ teaches you about in spy school…
Backstage in Venice - the film’s cast and crew with their views on shooting in St. Mark’s Square:
Featuring in both films are the tranquil and stunning surroundings of Lake Como. Villa del Balbianello in Lenno was the hospital where Bond recovers in Casino Royale, and later in the film, Bond returns to Lake Como to shoot the villainous Mr White.
But there are plenty of other destinations outside Italy from Bond films of the past that we know about too..
At the head of Lake Maggiore is the Swiss town of Locarno, and beyond, the Verzasca Dam - home of the 2nd highest commercial bungee jump in the world sitting at 220m. This was catapulted to fame through the opening sequence of ‘Goldeneye’ (1995), where Pierce Bronsnan launches himself into his next adventure. If you want to try it out yourself, you can bounce down the dam wall for €170 per person. I can throughly recommend it from personal experience - you’ll be buzzing for about a week afterwards!
Heading back through the decades and to Austria, Vienna was another famous location in ‘The Living Daylights’ (1987), when Timothy Dalton played the secret agent. Bond and Kara Miovy arrive by horse and carriage with the Schönbrunn Palace in the background. James also attends the opera at the Musikverein Concert Hall, before gaining some valuable information in the Prater Park.
Back to Switzerland and back to the 60s to the Piz Gloria. This is located at the top of the Schilthorn and was used for several scenes in ‘On her Majesty’s Secret Service’ (1969), starring George Lazenby.
This is located above Mürren in the Bernese Oberland, a great location for walking holidays. But in the film, this is the research base of Blofeld which is eventually blown sky high by Bond. In reality though, James Bond was more constructive than destructive, with the filming of Bond here helping to finance the completion of the famous revolving restaurant. This is still open today, giving stunning mountain views whilst you enjoy a 007 style lunch.
You can even order yourself a Martini here from the James Bond Bar - ‘shaken, not stirred’, of course.
By Amy Fletcher, Thomson Lakes Social Media Team