The Talented Mr Ripley | 1999
The Italian locations of this, the second film version of Patricia Highsmith’s novel (the first was Plein Soleil, which cast Alain Delon as sexually ambiguous anti-hero Tom Ripley) are as lusciously seductive as they appear on screen.
The opening, though, is New York, where Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) works at the Lyceum Theatre, 149 West 45th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues (used in the 1947 George Cukor backstage melodrama A Double Life, starring Ronald Colman).
The interior of Ripley’s dismal basement apartment was actually the ground floor of a tenement on Second Avenue at 26th Street in the Gramercy district of New York, but you’ll find the exterior, with the steep flight of iron steps, in the tiny passageway of Franklin Place, between White Street and Franklin Street in Tribeca.
To represent the fictitious resort of ‘Mongibello’, where Dickie idles away his time with girlfriend Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow), the movie uses two separate locations: the beautiful island of Ischia, largest of the three volcanic islands in the Bay of Naples; and its tiny neighbour, Procida. Both islands can be reached by ferry from Naples itself.
The ferry will take you to Ischia’s main port, Ischia Porto, but the bustling square where Ripley gets off the bus is Ischia Ponte, below the towering 12th century Castello Aragonese which dominates the island’s northeast coast. It’s about a mile east of the ferry landing at Ischia Porto, and is connected by a regular bus service.
Between Ischia Ponte and Ischia Porte you’ll find Bagno Antonio, the private beach where Ripley contrives his first meeting with Dickie and Marge by passing himself off as an old college pal.
Most of the town of ‘Mongibello’, though, can be found on the neighbouring tiny island of Procida. In the beautiful fishing village of Corricella, Dickie rides his scooter and furtively meets up with secret girlfriend Silvana on the steep Via San Rocco, dominated by the domed Church of Our Lady of Grace. You can see the same street in Il Postino.
Meanwhile, the calculating Tom Ripley is watching from further down Via San Rocco. At the foot of this street, by the way, is the seafront where you’ll find the wonderful little bar featured in Il Postino – another film to showcase the astonishing beauty of Procida.
The town square of ‘Mongibello’, where Dickie adamantly refuses to return to New York is Piazza dei Martiri, at the top of Via San Rocco, Corricella. This is also where you’ll find the post office from which Massimo Troisi collected mail in Il Postino.
Dickie Greenleaf’s villa is Palazzo Malcovati, on Ischia Ponte’s main street, Via Luigi Mazzella. You can see the terrace, where Tom Ripley reveals his musical tastes by ‘accidentally’ dropping a stack of jazz albums, at the end of Largo Stradone, running north to the seafront from Via Luigi Mazzella.
Ripley’s idyll begins to turn sour with the arrival of the suspicious and malicious Freddie Miles (the brilliantly scene-stealing Philip Seymour Hoffman). As the statue of the Virgin rises from the waves, the sea also gives up the body of Silvana. The ‘Festival of the Madonna’ is held on the waterfront of Piazza Malcovati, on the villa’s western side.
Photograph: Glen Platts
Now it gets even more confusing. The ‘Vesuvio’ nightclub, supposedly in ‘Naples’, where Dickie and Ripley perform Tu Vuo’ Fa L’Americano is the Caffè Latino, Via Monte Testaccio 96 in Rome, whereas the ‘Rome’ opera house, where Ripley poses as Dickie, is the Teatro San Carlo, Via San Carlo in Naples. And also in Naples is the imposing vaulted Galleria Principe di Napoli where Dickie draws his allowance.
Photograph: Nils Reucker
The ‘San Remo’ jazz festival, where it becomes clear that the good life is coming to an end, is the seafront at Anzio, about 30 miles south of Rome (the real San Remo is up at the French border). The coastal resort is also home to the palatial 'hotel' seen in Federico Fellini's Amarcord.
Ripley’s Roman hotel, the sumptuous St Regis Grand Hotel, Via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando 3, off Piazza della Repubblica, really is in Rome, as is the cafe where Freddie turns up, on Piazza Navona opposite Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers.
When he returns to Rome after Dickie’s murder, surveying the ruins of the Forum from Capitoline Hill and viewing the monumental sculptures of the Capitoline Museum, Piazza del Campidoglio, Ripley stays in an apartment on the fictitious ‘Piazza Gioia’, which is actually near the old Jewish Ghetto, on Piazza Mattei. The interior of the apartment – which also functioned as the Grand Hotel suite – is the 14th century Palazzo Taverna, Via di Monte Giordano 36.
'Dinelli', the terrace cafe, where Ripley arranges for Meredith, Marge and Peter Smith-Kingsley to meet up on Piazza di Spagna, at the foot of the Spanish Steps, doesn't exist. It was mocked up in front of a dress shop.
Moving on to Venice, Ripley stays in an apartment which is an amalgam of two different palazzos. The Ca’ Sagredo, Campo Santa Sofia 4198, on the Canal Grande, was empty and abandoned at the time of filming but has been restored as a five-star hotel. The other is the Ca’ da Mosto, Cannaregio 5631, also on the Canal.
Marge, having arrived at the streamlined, fifties-style Santa Lucia Railway Station, at the northern end of Canal Grande, finally voices her suspicions about Dickie’s disappearance at Venetian landmark Cafe Florian, Piazza San Marco 56-59.
The hotel where Ripley meets Dickie’s father is the Westin Europa e Regina, Calle Larga 22 Marzo, San Marco 2159 on the Canal Grande, facing the Chiesa della Salute.
The ‘Venetian’ church, though, where Smith-Kingsley (Jack Davenport) rehearses the Stabat Mater, is in fact the 12th century Chiesa della Martorana, Piazza Bellini in Palermo, Sicily, famed for its glittering mosaics.