Venice in the movies: Summertime (1955)

Many people commented on the last Venice in the movies post, that their favourite movie about Venice was Summertime (1955). Starring Katharine Hepburn and Rossano Brazzi, it tells the story of a holiday romance between an American tourist and a Venetian shop owner.

David Lean, the director, bought an apartment in Venice after making the movie since he was so taken by it.

The film is very interesting from a Venetian perspective because it addresses several issues about (soon to be mass) tourism and the effect it has on both the tourist and the local people. For example, the opening scene when Hepburn arrives in Venice and her path out of Santa Lucia train station is blocked by people touting hotels, water taxis, and porter services, could be today.

Most of Summertime was filmed in and around the Piazza di San Marco and Campo San Barnaba, where Brazzi’s shop was located. The building is still a shop, but today sells toys rather than red Murano glass goblets, but curiously, never seems to be open. You can see how it looks today in the photo above.

The Pensione Fiorini, where Hepburn stays, is now the stunningly named Splendid Hotel on Rio dei Bareteri.

An interesting point of trivia, allows us to see exactly when the movie was filmed. A note on the IMDB website entry for Summertime claims that part of the film has to have been shot in winter, since at one point Katharine Hepburn looks up to see the wooden statues of the three kings appear on the Torre dell’Orologio in the Piazza di San Marco. The website, erroneously claims that this only happens once a year, in the first week of January. To my mind, it’s preposterous that Lean would have included it in a film called Summertime if this was the case. In fact, the appearance of the kings takes place twice a year. Once in January, and the second time on the Feast of the Ascension. This moves every year, but in 1954, was on May 27. So we can conclude that the movie was shot in the last weeks of May and first weeks of June.



8 thoughts on “Venice in the movies: Summertime (1955)”

  1. Thanks so much for this article. Yes, I recognize the little shop that was the scene of the antique shop in the movie. When I found it in 2014 it had become a children’s toy shop. I had wondered about the Three Kings; glad you clarified. So glad to see in many ways how cleaner the city looks since 1955, except for the ugly graffiti!

    1. Thanks for your comment and I’m really glad that you liked the post. I happened to be passing again this evening and the toy shop was open! Interesting to see that the upstairs with the iron railing featured in the film is still there!

      1. I noticed that also when I had stepped in! Interesting that we both thought to look for that feature.

  2. Pingback: Venice in the movies: Summertime UPDATE | Luca's Venice

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