The movie Under the Tuscan Sun, (loosely) based on the memoir by Frances Mayes and starring Diane Lane, is a perfect “house movie.” After divorcing her cheating husband, Frances takes a trip to Italy, falls in love with an abandoned villa, and decides to buy it. As she restores the house, her life undergoes a kind of renovation of its own.
We get a glimpse of the home she shared with her husband as she’s packing up to leave:
Her best friend Patti is played by Sandra Oh, who gives Frances her ticket to Italy.
While she’s there, Frances looks at the real estate listings that are posted She sees one she likes, for a villa called “Bramasole:”
Later, the tour bus pulls up next to the villa. She shouts, “Stop the bus!”
She steps inside and looks around:
It needs work, but Frances sees the potential in the old house:
She buys it on the spot, despite the pigeons that are living there (and one that was particularly rude to her when flying overhead):
After signing the papers, Frances tries to come to grips with the fact that she just bought the rundown villa:
She starts cleaning things up and taking inventory of all the things left behind, like bottles of wine:
And stacks of old newspapers:
She hires a team of Polish workers who don’t speak much English:
Frances says she wishes she had somebody to cook for. Then she realizes that she does have someone she can feed: her workers!
The workers set up a makeshift table for lunch:
The meals that she cooks for them are so good, they applaud. (I wish someone would applaud one of my meals around here. I usually get comments like, “Why couldn’t we order pizza?” and “Pot roast again?!” But I digress.)
Patti joins her in Italy and moves into the villa’s blue bedroom:
Patti points out that there is steam coming up from the toilet, which probably indicates that there is something amiss:
A view of the living room, looking into the dining room:
Patti dances with her new baby under the wisteria arbor:
The writer and director of the film, Audrey Wells, insists they didn’t actually change much of the house during filming to show the before and after. They just cleaned it up a little and “filmed it in warmer, prettier light,” she says, to make it look like the rooms had been renovated.
Frances steps out onto her balcony and we get a glimpse of the side of the house:
A close-up of Frances’s desk with her finished manuscript for Under the Tuscan Sun on it:
Who wouldn’t want to buy a villa here? Gorgeous!
A reader sent me a wonderful photo of the actual villa (thanks, Joanie!). She says, “We visited Cortona a few years ago and stayed at a hotel very near to Bramasole. The picture is from the car window, as I was trying to be nonchalant!”
*UPDATE: Check out the real-life renovated villa they used for this film!*