Subject: Film locations
Hello and Happy Christmas to all:

A bit to the west and a bit more to the north of Pienza is the monastery of Sant'Anna Comprena where the Italian segments of The English Patient were filmed. When I first saw this nearly deserted medieval complex, I had to pay homage to the filmaker's art.

Inside the walls of Pienza is the renaissance cathedral where Juliet Binoche was set a-swinging up to see the frescoes painted on its upper walls. The central courtyard garden where they gaily carried the Ralph Finnes out into the rain is still green and dotted with clay pots.

Sant'Anna Comprena still functions as a retreat and place to study, but maintains its air of an old ruin. In all my visits there I have not seen more than ten people in all. I have returned again and again, always pleased to be on the cypress-lined road to the top where the monastery sits so silently.

Now Miramax/Disney/ Titiale Films are filming Frances Mayes' Under the Tuscan Sun, in Cortona. Sadly the movie will have faint resemblance to her book or to her actual life. The filmmakers have constructed a plastic fountain in the Piazza Signorelli, fabricated a snowstorm, purchased and renovated a villa outside of Cortona to stand in for Bramasole. When I saw it, it was covered with scaffolding.

Thanks to Frances in Toronto, I found the best coverage by going to Google and clicking on Images, which gave me www.under-the-tuscan-sun-gossip, even a Snow Gallery for the fake snowstorm scenes.

Jane Estus