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.