September 12, 2006Italy was the next stop on the road for the CASINO ROYALE travelling circus. We completed the casino scenes in Karlovy Vary before moving through the mountains to Lake Como in northern Italy.
This part of the world has been a haven for tourists and invalids for centuries, people drawn there by its beauty and tranquillity. Indeed, that's why Bond is here - to recuperate from what he has undergone at Le Chiffre's hands.
The location is the Villa del Balbianello, a beautiful retreat in its own grounds overlooking the long lake that runs north from the town of Como itself. Daniel and Eva are on the lawn with Martin and the crew crouched around them. Yours truly is on the other side of the villa looking north. Partly, I must confess, because the tea trolley is here but mostly because the set around the corner is surrounded by the crunchiest gravel south of the Alps making movement impossible during takes. And also, there's something compelling about the view.
We're looking down into another garden whose balustrades prevent anyone from falling into the lake below us. There is an eerie sense we have been here before, perhaps in some previous life - an unexpected shiver of the unknown which lasts for about a minute until the cheerful figure of executive producer, Callum McDougall, hoves into view. Not only does Callum usually know the answer to your question, he remains unfailingly affable, two attributes which make him welcome wherever he appears.
In this case, the answer he gives is less than supernatural. The view we are looking at featured in STAR WARS: Episode II, ATTACK OF THE CLONES. This is where Anakin kissed Padme.
So that explains how familiar it looks - we're in Planet Naboo!
I can only hope Natalie Portman enjoyed the pizza on her visit to Lake Como as much as I did.
Until next time,