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, My Brilliant Friend.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.