007 in Southern Europe
Text: Arne Adriaenssens | Main Photo © Pixabay
If you are ever in need of a tour guide in Southern Europe, James Bond might be up for the job. Throughout his 26 films, Great Britain’s deadliest weapon visited all corners of the region and passed by some of its most beautiful monuments. So, hop in your Aston Martin and cruise the country in 007’s tire tracks.
In his early days, Bond loved heading to France to visit its chateaus. In the broad region around Paris, the spy passed Château d’Anet in Thunderball, Château de Vaux-le-Vicompte in Moonraker and Château de Chantilly in A View to Kill. The latter is the perfect location for a day trip out of the city while on a holiday in Paris. Its many former inhabitants with blue blood and deep pockets turned the estate into a delightful garden of Eden with a huge castle full of art, richly decorated suites and precious, ancient manuscripts.
We leave Spain behind us and set sail to Portugal to end up in its capital, Lisbon. Portugal has failed to attract many film crews throughout the years, yet, for the film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, a big Hollywood delegation took over the sunny city and its surroundings. The Portuguese Riviera is well-represented in this film, especially the posh coastal town of Estoril. In Lisbon itself, Bond cruises his Aston Martin over the bright-red Ponte 26 Abril, Lisbon’s most important bridge.
After travelling to Spain Bond-style (by helicopter, submarine, zeppelin, … you name it), head to Bilbao, the biggest city of Basque Country. In The World is Not Enough, Bond passed here to visit the city’s biggest hotspot: the Guggenheim Museum. The building is designed by Frank Gehry, who is world-famous for constructing with metal building blocks in a myriad of shapes. Inside, you will find the work of contemporary Basque artists alongside big names like Mark Rothko and Clifford Still. Bond didn’t have time for art when he passed there, yet, that shouldn’t stop you from immersing yourself in its great collection.
We end our journey in Italy, by far Bond’s favourite destination in Southern Europe. As early as in Moonraker, he had already paid a visit to Venice’s Piazza San Marco. In his next picture, For Your Eyes Only, he explored the Veneto region even more by visiting the skiing destination of Cortina d’Ampezzo. Yet, it was only when Daniel Craig took over the role of James Bond that the boot of Europe got the attention it deserved. In Craig’s first picture, Casino Royal, he makes Venice unsafe again when he chases his former associate Vesper Lynd through the narrow, water-infused city. In Spectre, the last film of the franchise so far, Bond travels to Rome and the Vatican. During a high-speed chase, the spy passes hotspots like Saint Peter’s Square and the Colosseum, as well as the banks of the Tiber. Follow in his car tracks and you’re up for a city tour which will leave you shaken (not stirred).
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