Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Thursday, August 2, 2012


by Claudia Rey

Old stones take a pink hue in the sunset and a cool breeze  ruffles our  hair and clothes. Only institutional buildings in this square: the cathedral, the town hall, a cardinal's mansion, another stately palace belonging to an aristocratic family. Power at its best - so deadly serious, so dignified. And yet...

A couple of years ago a director chose Montepulciano, its steep narrow streets and medieval cobblestones, to shoot part of his film. Many other movies had already been made there, but this one was special. This was the story of two young beautiful ill-fated lovers, a vampire and a common girl. New Moon, part two of a really popular saga called Twilight.

The news quickly spread and millions of avid teenagers invaded the town  hoping to catch a glimpse, a smile, possibly an autograph from the actors.

A fake fountain was built in the square; hundreds of extras were hired, half of them more than willing to work for free just for the thrill of being there. The filming went on for a week, with the local Film Commission patiently solving major or small problems.  Locals were intrigued or annoyed, but shop owners were delighted by such a boost in the town economy. In the end, as always, Montepulciano survived.

Now some restaurants and bars offer a Twilight menu: pizza with the reddest tomatoes, spaghetti in a dark sepia-ink sauce, "caprese" with pale mozzarella, purple beetroot-and-orange juice. Young tourists seem to appreciate.

Stage blood was never shed for a better cause.

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