There are many reasons to love a James Bond movie. Perhaps you have been a longtime fan, devotedly following Bond over the years through his many personas, love affairs, travels, and car chases. Perhaps you revel at the classic way he drinks his martinis, or covet the dapper suits that he never seems to get dirty. I know that many of my friends admire the Aston Martins and Alfa Romeos that he so brilliantly drives, and they cringe in horror as the cars inevitably end up plunging off a cliff over the Adriatic Sea as Bond leaps to his safety. For me, the most exciting part of a Bond movie, the part that revs up my own anticipation to the highest decibels, is the array of fabulous travel destinations that magnetically attract Bond as he passionately tracks down the bad guys. Throw in a tanned Bond girl, some fancy weapons, and a lot of impressive fight moves, and you have the quintessential Bond movie.
The newest addition in the characteristic Bond enterprise, Quantum of Solace, certainly fulfilled the quota of Bond movie essentials, in my opinion. The locations that were used in filming this sequel to Casino Royale were more impressive than ever before, and I felt my adrenaline pumping from the very first scene of the movie. I am an Italy lover, and I add another notch to the Bond movie series’ belt because of the lucrative way that the two most recent films have both prominently featured this beautiful country’s charm and its cultural buildings. Casino Royale, as you may know, ended with the unforgettable scene of Bond finally confronting Mr. White, and there is no better locale for this dramatic finale than at a luxury villa along the shore of Lake Como. There is no better alternative than to begin Quantum of Solace right where Bond left off — at the point of James’ heartbreak over the loss of his girlfriend, in the medieval streets of Siena, Italy. This is James Bond at his best, combining the rush of horses as they circle the Piazza del Campo in the traditional Palio festivities; the screech of tires on a fleet of brand new Aston Martins (a couple of which, driven by the “bad guys” do, indeed, plunge into the sea); the perfectly detailed driving skills belonging to our protagonist as he swerves through Italian tunnels, drives the wrong way on streets, and narrowly misses the drivers next to him (actually this is not completely atypical of Italian driving styles); and of course, the way that Bond gracefully extracts himself from his vehicle, with hardly a wrinkle in his suit, and lifts his sunglasses to reveal his steele blue eyes at the end of the first hair-raising pursuit of the movie.
Just as stunning as Bond’s muscles and the deeply entrancing charcoal eyes of his new and exotic Bond girl, Camille, is the scenery they have chosen to play out the drama of Bond’s latest act of revenge on Dominic Green. At the beginning of the movie, you get an action-packed view of Siena’s love of the historic horse race and the cheer of the crowd enthusiastically wraps you in the Italians’ fierce loyalty to their country as well as their unabashed love for life. You even get to go underground and listen to the horse hooves pummel above you as Bond continues his chase of those who stole the life of his lover. A bit later in the movie, Bond continues his chasing spree through the marble quarries of Carrara in northern Tuscany. This scene is particularly stunning, with the contrast of the white marble with the green foliage and the brown rock high on a hill as Bond takes turns being the pursuer and the pursued.
The action continues on the gorgeous beaches of Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake. Here, Bond fits right into the classic scenery with his crisp white tailored shirts and his black tinted sunglasses. The grimace he wears throughout the movie does not fit in with the light and relaxed atmosphere that blankets this lake like a fog, but when you are out to get vengeance for your broken heart, there is no other facial expression that seems to do justice to the emotions felt inside. I heard that two stuntmen accidentally lost control of the cars during a fast-paced chase scene while filming near Lake Garda, and they plunged yet two more Aston Martins into the water. Alas, no one was hurt except for the cars.
Italy makes one more graceful presence against the backdrop of the intently serious plot of Quantum of Solace. This is the most unforgettable backdrop in the movie, which was filmed at Talamone, near Grosseto in the Maremma section of Tuscany, at the end of April 2008. Here, set majestically above the crystal blue waters of the Mediterreanean Sea, rests the ancient tower Torre Etrusca, which was originally built by the Spanish to protect against the invading Saracen warriors. Camille and Bond arrive in a yacht at this villa to meet Rene Mathis, and then leave again on the same yacht, though this time they are chased intently by a helicopter. You can have your own Bond-esque experience (though maybe without all of the weapons and danger) by staying in Torre Etrusca, which has been renovated into a high-class villa that sleeps eight people. With its own private access to the sea, it stands on Parco Nazionale della Maremma, one of the many nature reserves of the Maremma region. The neighboring areas of Tuscany and the Maremma are plentiful in breathtaking overlooks, lush fields of sunflowers, olive groves, and vineyards, and enough fresh pasta and savory meats to satiate your cultural and gastronomic appetite!
So, if you are like me and love to travel to Italy but can’t hop on a private jet as effortlessly as Bond does, let yourself be mesmerized by the Tuscan beauty in Quantum of Solace. The story travels to Austria and South America, rounding out this treat to travel enthusiasts everywhere. It should be enough to quench your thirst (literally — you will get the pun once you watch the movie!) until you can get swept away by Bond himself to the deck of the next romantic Italian villa to be featured in his ruthlessly suave adventures!