See the European sites that inspire films and TV shows
Stars and Stripes September 8, 2023
Stunning Instagram photos, flashy posters in a travel agent’s shop window, friends’ social media: the places to find inspiration for one’s next travel destination are as varied as the cities and landscapes that capture our imaginations. Another way to stumble across places just begging to be seen is through the lens of the movies and TV series we tirelessly consume.
The European Film Commissions Network, or EUFCN for short, is an organization that tasks itself with facilitating film production activities. To this end, since 2017, the EUFCN has organized a competition in which various filming locations across Europe are nominated for special recognition. EUFCN members have the opportunity to submit one location from a film or a TV series shot in their country and released within that same year. A five-member jury of distinguished professionals whittles the nominees down to five locations which in turn compete for the award. From this shortlist, the general public then has the chance to vote for their favorite. The destination which captures the most of the popular vote then wins the annual Location Award. The winner of the EUFCN Location Award for Best European Filming Location in the year 2022 was revealed back in February at the European Film Market in Berlin. The five nominees, including the ultimate winner, were as follows.
Brissago Islands, Switzerland
The Ticino Film Commission nominated the Brissago Islands, two islands in the Gulf of Ascona, along the northern shore of Lake Maggiore. Home to Switzerland’s only botanical garden located on an island, more than 2,000 species of plants from the Mediterranean and subtropical regions of five continents thrive here, their presence a stark contrast to snow-capped Alpine peaks.
The islands serve as the setting for a film titled “Dawn Chorus,” the first feature film of screenwriter and director Alessio Pizzicannella. In this coming-of-age story, four travel companions reluctantly coming to the end of a yearlong tour backpacking the world make an unexpected stop here. The film’s title is inspired by a song by Thom Yorke, frontman of the band Radiohead, which also appears on the soundtrack.
The Brissago Islands can be reached by boat from Locarno, Ascona, San Nazzaro, Porto Ronco and Brissago. Once there, a tour leads through the botanical park, where a misty forest, bamboo stand, greenhouse and Roman bath make up the main attractions. The Villa Emden, a refuge for artists, musicians and writers up to the 1920s, now houses a hotel and restaurant.
Screen Scotland’s entry to the competition was this picturesque harbor town in the northeast of the country. Filmed in the dead of winter, the frosty and eerie town stood in for the French-speaking part of Canada.
Portsoy’s frozen-in-time architecture proved an ideal fit for the filming of the season finale of the period drama “Peaky Blinders,” a British TV series set mainly in Birmingham. The series, which follows the exploits of a criminal gang in the aftermath of World War I, can be watched on Netflix.
A castle, pottery shop, distillery and the Salmon Bothy, a fishery restored into a museum and base for researching family history, count amongst the town’s main tourist attractions. Portsoy is a one-hour, fifteen-minute drive north of Aberdeen.
Kronberg im Taunus, Germany
Film Commission Hessen threw in its hat with the Schlosshotel Kronberg, a sumptuous hotel in the hills north of Frankfurt that once served as the retirement home for Queen Victoria, daughter and wife of the German Emperor Friedrich. The property, built in the British tudor style, bears a striking resemblance to Britain’s Sandringham Castle.
The circa-1893 property served as the main filming location to Pablo Larrain’s “Spencer,” which tells the story of Princess Diana’s last Christmas prior to separating from Prince Charles. Kristen Stewart’s compelling portrayal of the princess earned her a nomination for Best Actress at the 2022 Academy Awards.
The five-star Schlosshotel Kronberg spoils guests with its luxuriously appointed and newly renovated rooms, an 18-hole golf course, beauty salon and two restaurants.
Stari Grad, Croatia
Hvar Island, part of the Dalmatian archipelago, is perhaps best known for its fields of lavender, turning large swathes of the island a pale purple in early summer. Hvar is also home to Stary Grad, a city who traces its year of birth to 384 BC. The cobblestone streets, lush gardens and historical monuments of this UNESCO-listed town have melted many a heart.
Stari Grad itself is a driving force in a film titled “How I Learned to fly,” a family-friendly film centered around 12-year-old Sophia, who’d much rather be living a modern life than spending time with her mother and grandmother in rustic surroundings.
In real life, Stari Grad draws in tourists in search of a tranquility they won’t find in Hvar Town, which has earned a reputation as party central. A stroll down the Srinjo Kola, or middle street, with its cafés and craft shops, is a not-to-be-missed experience.
Chiliadou Beach, Greece
This beach on the island of Evia has high mountains and stony beaches, which give the island a much different vibe than some of its more famous neighbors. Greece’s second-largest island, accessible by bridge, is also known for its thermal springs.
Chiliadou Beach features prominently in the film “Triangle of Sadness,” winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2022. In this black comedy, the explosion of a yacht sends ultra-rich passengers and crewmembers to a seemingly castaway island, throwing the social status of the characters into chaos.
As the winner of the EUFCN Location Award for Best European Filming Location in the year 2022, Chiliadou can only expect its profile and popularity to rise in years to come.
For more about the EUFCN Location Award of 2022, see online: eufcn.com/eufcn-location-award