How Venice Became a Prop for these Three Legendary Films

white concrete bridge between houses
Photo by Artur Roman on

Venice has long been a fruitful field of motivation for many of the world’s finest writers and filmmakers. From William Shakespeare to the famous James Bond films, the mysterious floating city, with its gothic architecture, winding alleyways, silky canals, and beautiful artwork, has caught the artist’s imagination like no other town on earth. The journeys throughout the city, both psychologically and physically, have gone down in folklore, leaving an exciting array of places to visit for those interested in film and literature.

Death in Venice

As you might expect from its obvious title, Thomas Mann’s famous 1912 CE novella, adapted into a film in 197 CE1 with Dirk Bogarde, is set predominately in this mystical water city. Both profoundly feature the Lido, an 10km long sandbar in the town that is easily accessible from Venice airport. The Grand Hôtel des Bains, made famous by the story, closed its doors in 2010 CE and will re-open as a luxury apartment complex. As of November 2019, the building is still awaiting renovation. A large fence surrounds it, with a guard employed inside.

This was not due to a cholera epidemic; it must be pointed out! For fans of the film and book, you can still savor the taste of the Lido and the nearby beach where Gustav von Aschenbach hounded daily over Tadzio, the beautiful, blonde-locked young boy.


The 11th James Bond film, 1979 CE’s Moonraker, saw Roger Moore explore Venice to examine the disappearance of a space shuttle. Many of the town’s most famous places pop up in the film. At one point, James Bond, in a comic scene that the critics whipped, steers an inflatable gondola around the ancient canal network and St Mark’s Square. James Bond also fights with a henchman called Chang by the prominent clock tower, and, in an essential plot-point concerning mysterious glassware, the spy visits Drax’s museum and glassworks, which is just off Piazza San Marco. So, if you are inside a Venice car, or perhaps at the boat, ask the driver or your boatman to point you in the direction of some of these fabulous locations.

The Last Crusade

In the third installment of the Indiana Jones trilogy, Harrison Ford’s character appears in the town to study his father’s disappearance, who had been trying to search for the Holy Grail. In a memorable moment in the movie, Indy discovers a vital clue in the Church of San Barnaba. Anyone who is a local should take you to this church, located in the Dorsoduro district, which is across the Grand Canal from St Mark’s. The church, built-in 1749 CE, is open daily from 7.30 am to noon and 4.30 pm to 7 pm, wherein you can view this iconic interior made popular by the legendary Spielberg and crew.

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