Lonely Planet Writer

The Name of the Rose filming locations will transport you to medieval Italy

The mini-series The Name of the Rose, based on Professor Umberto Eco’s book of the same name and starring John Turturro and Rupert Everett, has just finished its run on Italian national television and is currently being aired around the world much like Italy’s last mini-series, The Brilliant Friend.

The Name of the Rose stars John Turturro as the main character William of Baskerville and Rupert Everett as the main antagonist Bernand Gui. Photo by Elisabetta A. Villa/Getty Images

The mini-series is not only a perfect opportunity to get invested in the mystery taking hold of the abbey of Pietranera that friar William of Baskerville and his novice Adso are trying to unravel, but also to discover some unique and fascinating locations around Italy where The Name of the Rose was shot that will immediately bring you back in time into the Middle Ages.

The Castle of Roccascalegna dominates over the entire valley from the Apennines to the Adriatic Sea. Photo by Romaoslo/Getty Images

The two most striking filming locations for The Name of the Rose are the Castle of Roccascalegna in the region of Abruzzo and the tiny village of Civita di Bagnoregio in Lazio, which both served as exteriors for the abbey. The Castle of Roccascalegna is also known as the Castle in the Sky because of its unique position, right at the top of a rocky ledge that overlooks the valley below; Civita di Bagnoregio is part of the group of the “most beautiful towns in Italy” and only counts eleven citizens, who are very used to seeing film crews come and go.

Civita di Bagnoregio counts a population of only eleven people. Photo by Laura Zulian Photography/Getty Images

The city of Perugia in Umbria was used as the set for some of the series’ flashbacks, set in cities instead of within the abbey— the crew took some shots of the Piazza IV Novembre and the Rocca Paolina, a fortress built around the 16th century. A few kilometres north of Perugia, the Abbey of Montelabate provided some general interiors for the fictional Abbey of Pietranera, while the most detailed interiors like the library were reconstructed in Rome’s Cinecittà Studios.

Rocca Paolina, in the historical part of Perugia, was used for some city shots. Photo by Olaf Protze/LightRocket via Getty Images

As the abbey of Pietranera is set on top of a mountain (it’s said that Umberto Eco was inspired by the famous Sacra di San Michele, perched on top the Alps in the Piedmont region), many external scenes were shot in forests and natural parks.

The Sacra di San Michele, perched on the Piedmont Alps, is what is said to have inspired Umberto Eco for the creation of his fictional abbey. Photo by Piero M. Bianchi/Getty Images

If you want to take a stroll retracing the steps of William of Baskerville and Adso then you can visit the Park of Vulci at the border between Tuscany and Lazio, a WWF natural oasis that also serves as an open-air museum for the Etruscan civilisation, which used to thrive before the Ancient Romans. You can also bike through the beech forest of the Monti Cimini and the Bosco della Macchia Grande, both in Lazio and both used as filming locations for some external shots.

The beech tree forests of Lazio were used as the location for several external shots. Photo by DEA/P. Puccinelli/De Agostini/Getty Images

While it’s not guaranteed you will find a lost book or an abbey full of mysteries on your Name of the Rose trip through central Italy, you will certainly discover fascinating locations and stunning natural scenery.