Our Montalbano Tour

18 Dec

Although many people visit Taormina to get close to Mount Etna, Len and I had a different plan. Our goal was to visit many of the shooting locations of one of our favorite Italian detective stories, Il Commissario Montalbano. The episodes are based on novels by author Andrea Camilleri. They are set in the imaginary town of Vigàta but many shooting locations are in the province of Ragusa. Montalbano is played by the Italian actor Luca Zingaretti.

We got hooked on watching Italian shows many years ago as part of our never-ending quest to speak and understand Italian better, and also to learn about parts of Italy we had yet to visit.

Taormina is certainly not the best base to begin this excursion as the sites are hours away, but that didn’t deter us. I found an excellent driver, Alessio Patanè, (info@sicilygrandtour.com), who met us at 8 AM in Taormina.

Our first stop, and the opening shots of the episodes, are overlooking Modica. We were stumped on the significance of this view – the open center being the shooting location for Livia’s bus stop.

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We did, however, recognize the Cathedral of San Giorgio, aka the Church of Vigàta.

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Next stop, (not Montalbano related), the oldest chocolate factory in Sicily. Need you ask if I bought some?

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From there on to Scicli, aka Vigàta.

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The show’s police headquarters and commissioner’s office are both housed in the local town hall.

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Filming for the episodes happens on location during many months of the year, but the office set ups are often broken down and moved to Cinecittà, a large film studio in Rome. We were fortunate as they had recently been shooting scenes, so the offices were completely in tact when we visited.

Stepping inside, one immediately recognizes the staircase Montalbano climbs to visit his boss, the commissioner,

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as well as the commissioner’s office.

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After hearing about the some of the artifacts in the office, we headed downstairs to Montalbano’s office.

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Immediately on the right is Catarella’s office.

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then Fazio’s office leading to Montalbano’s.

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Enrico, our wonderful tour guide, was so knowledgeable and entertaining.

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He was also eager to show us a filming stunt. Below is the familiar door to Mimi’s office, which is actually not an office at all but a wall. Mimi’s only office exists in the studios in Rome.

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One highlight not visible in the series is the incredible ceilings in the eighteenth century building.

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After thanking Enrico, we walked the familiar streets of Vigàta before heading to lunch.

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Then time for Len’s one request – to eat along the sea at the place Montalbano frequents, and so we did. Picture perfect.

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After lunch, we walked along the beach in Punta Secca (aka Marinella)

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until we came upon this sign…

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and then the very familiar home of Montalbano.

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It was easy to see why this house was selected as Montalbano’s home and equally funny to see a pizzeria a few doors away – oh what fame can due to a town!

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In reality, it doesn’t appear that fame has spoiled this quiet beach town at all. No one was even home when I knocked.

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From here, on to our final stop, the incredible vistas of Ragusa and Ragusa Ibla, which we learned about from episodes. As Camilleri once said:

….there is a literary Vigàta, which is based on my hometown, and then a Vigàta used as the set for the TV series, which is based on beautiful places such as Scicli, Modica and so on. Now that happens to me when I’m writing a new Montalbano story: I’m influenced not so much by the Montalbano TV character but the scenery seen on television..   Andrea Camilleri

©blogginginitaly.com

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Whether or not you are a fan of the Montalbano books/tv series, these sights in many remote parts of Sicily are enticing and beautiful. At first we had wondered why so many widely dispersed and remote filming locations were used, but seeing them made it all so clear. Camilleri truly wanted to share lesser known parts of Sicily with his audience, and indeed he did. Clearly, his intention is what brought us to areas we might never have known, and given us another great adventure on a road less travelled.

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Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

22 Responses to “Our Montalbano Tour”

  1. Royce Larsen December 18, 2018 at 12:11 PM #

    What a great excursion!
    You have peaked my interest in the setting
    And the created characters
    Thank you so much
    Merry Christmas

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lyn Douglas December 18, 2018 at 12:42 PM #

    Such a fabulous idea. Just how to make a trip even better. I might just become a fan of Montalbano. Buon Natale

    Liked by 1 person

  3. karenincalabria December 18, 2018 at 1:57 PM #

    Love it! Love Montalbano, love the chocolate and love your photos – what a great excursion. I was in Modica many years ago but it was before I had seen the series. Have you seen the Young Montalbano? Of course, it couldn’t ever be up to the mature Montalbano, but after the first couple of episodes and I got used to the other actor, I enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly December 18, 2018 at 2:40 PM #

      We felt the same at first, and then actually liked it as the prequel watching the characters develop. Buon Natale!

      Like

      • karenincalabria December 18, 2018 at 5:10 PM #

        Yes, Montalbano with curly hair! Auguri per le feste!

        Like

  4. Debra Kolkka December 18, 2018 at 3:23 PM #

    Scicli was one of our favourite places in Sicily.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sandy Holswade December 18, 2018 at 3:27 PM #

    Enjoyed this so much, as well as your last one. Very entertaining and interesting. I feel like I’m traveling with you! Larry and I have not seen the show. I bet we would enjoy it. Thanks Judy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly December 19, 2018 at 11:21 AM #

      Always happy to have you along, and yes, you just might enjoy the shows – they do have English subtitles. Merry Christmas!

      Like

  6. Chiarandini December 18, 2018 at 6:19 PM #

    Judy

    We are off to Sicilia soon. You are giving us some clues as to what to see

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mario Tortoriello December 18, 2018 at 6:37 PM #

    What a marvelous adventure off the beaten path! You guys are amazing! God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. jeanfromcalifornia December 18, 2018 at 8:43 PM #

    Read every single English translated Montalbano and put Larry (Leonardo) onto them. But am avoiding the TV series for now because the images in the writing are so strong in my mind that I am afraid the show would glamorize too much. (That’s my TV background speaking.)
    For instance the commissioner’s office in the book is in the next town to Montalbano’s police office (which doesn’t have any air conditioning and the roof leaks).
    Montalbano’s house is on a dirt road with only the one single overhanging porch with french doors, not the grand double patio style of the TV series.
    Camilleri spent his life, as we have, working in television throughout his life which is why his books ready like shooting scripts broken into scenes and shots.
    One day I will watch the shows when the books fade in my mind and I shall then follow in your footsteps.
    Many thanks for scattering the crumbs for me to follow.
    (But really, isn’t Livia’s long term patience waiting for Montalbano too much for us American gals to believe? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly December 19, 2018 at 11:22 AM #

      Yes, I totally understand, too soon for you to check these out, but perhaps someday. As for Livia, too much indeed!

      Like

  9. Fernanda December 18, 2018 at 11:17 PM #

    Ciao Judi! Bellissime foto, bellissima Sicilia. Grazie di farci vivere attraverso le tue foto il tuo favoloso viaggio! A presto…e
    BUON NATALE!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. John Volpe December 19, 2018 at 12:59 PM #

    Pretty awesome Judy. I want to come back as you in my next life!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly December 19, 2018 at 1:06 PM #

      Giovanni, you don’t need to come back as me, just come with us next time!! We’d so love to spend time with you in Italia.

      Like

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