LA SPIA CHE MI AMAVA

Credit: MGM Studios

So you’re probably wondering how this article has anything to do with travel as is suggested by the thumbnail, and rightfully so. But we thought we’d try something different, and since winter’s setting in, it’s around about now that many of us start to spend more and more time inside, spread on the sofa watching our favourite films…

Few classics are better than the James Bond films featuring Sean Connery and Roger Moore. Packed full of action, gorgeous cars, and equally stunning women, the glamorous life of 007 is an enviable one indeed. The quirky technology from Q-branch coupled with the laughably obvious innuendos allow the early Bond films to retain a light-hearted character, which has faded to become more sombre in recent years. 

As well as all those things mentioned above, another reason why Bond’s life appears so perfect is thanks to the stunning locations in which the scenes are shot. So, we thought we should dig a little deeper into these places which successfully attracted Albert R. Broccoli time and time again.

What better way to start than with one of the most iconic Bond films of all, and my personal favourite; ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’, or the more poetic ‘La Spia Che Mi Amava’.

 Credit: MGM Studios

St. Moritz

The first location of significance is in the mountains above the fabulous alpine town of St. Moritz. This playground for the jet-set provides the ultimate in luxury, adventure, and relaxation; details we’ll save for closer to winter, to include in a separate guide to the Swiss ski paradise! After Bond (Roger Moore) leaves the warm embrace of a KGB agent (Sue Vanner) he is pursued by several others, and a ski sequence unfolds on the slopes of the Engadin. The impressive ski jump which follows supposedly takes place in “Berngarten”, a fictional location in the Austrian Alps. However, in reality the stunt was filmed on the 3,000ft tall Asgard Peak in Canada. Recognisable due to the twin table-topped mountains, Mount Asgard is the most famous of the Baffin Mountains, and is where stuntman Rick Sylvesters successfully pulled off the daring act.

Credit: MGM Studios

Cairo

Bond and Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach) then head to the Egyptian capital, Cairo, renowned for its ancient history and of course the awe-inspiring pyramids. The largest city in all of Africa, Cairo is home to several museums of note, one of which is the Gayer-Anderson Museum of art. Originally a private dwelling, the property has since been converted into a public gallery showcasing ancient art collected by British army officer and orientalist Gayer Anderson. It is noted for being one of the best-preserved examples of 17th century architecture in Cairo, and happens to be the location of Bond’s rooftop fight scene; the terrace remains unchanged all these years on.

Credit: MGM Studios

Heading south down the Nile, the pair arrive in Luxor following Jaws all the way to the temple at Karnak. Regarded as one of the most remarkable religious sites in the world, this impressive 250-acre expanse of temples, obelisks and columns was constructed over a period of 2000 years. So it's hard not to wince when a section of this collapses on Jaws (even if it is only for the camera), following a period of hide and seek amongst the columns in the great Hypostyle Hall.

Credit: MGM Studios

Costa Smeralda

Perhaps the most glamourous location where filming occurred, Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, has become synonymous with ‘La Spia Che Mia Amava’. I was lucky enough to revisit this Mediterranean gem this August after a 10-year hiatus – and in between lockdown periods I might add. The feeling of being back in such a paradisiacal location was indescribable. I can’t lie, taking out the jet skis for some island hopping did make me feel like Roger Moore – my father always reminds me of how shocking Bond’s jet ski was all those years ago when watching it in cinema, as nothing of the sort had ever been seen before. I can only imagine…

Costa Smeralda and Cala di Volpe are really unlike any other destination on earth – as is all of Sardinia for that matter. An almost desert-like island, it is so far removed geographically from the rest of Italy. Porto Cervo and the surrounding region are famously the result of a handful of investors – most notably Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, Aga Khan IV – who aimed (and succeeded might I add) to create private dwellings amongst the beautiful natural landscape of Costa Smeralda, without disrupting the natural coastline. They created the solution to “the overcrowded resorts of southern France”.

Credit: MGM Studios

And of course, I couldn’t mention Sardinia without touching upon the iconic Lotus Esprit. The scene which shook the world was filmed at Liscia di Vacca, as Bond drives the Esprit off the end of a pier and straight into the Mediterranean. Regardless of how many times I watch it, the scene never gets old, as the Lotus comes to life under the waves. Equally as shocking is seeing the two-door sports car drive ashore in such a casual manner at Capriccioli beach, the modern day setting for Vesper Beach Club. This only became apparent once at the airport heading home the next evening, recognising the unchanged beach from the movie clip, which just so happened to appear on my Instagram feed. It’s well worth a visit, even if beach clubs aren’t your thing (thankfully for me I could enjoy the best of both worlds!).

Credit: MGM Studios

The Bahamas

Several shots were filmed off of New Providence Island at Coral Harbour; the final showdown in the movie, and the aerial shots of the Liparus super-tanker were filmed here using large-scale models. Famed for its white sand beaches and gorgeous scenery, it’s clear to see why the film directors were attracted to the coast off Nassau (which you can read more about here). Clear, calm water offered the perfect environment for underwater shots too, using specialised diving equipment and miniature Lotus Esprit models to create the iconic scene which began in the Mediterranean.

Credit: MGM Studios

It’s hard not to obsess over ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’. A Bond film which has it all: action, cars, girls, mega-criminals, gadgets, and of course stunning locations. It’s quite simply a masterpiece, and so it’s no surprise the film has amassed such a cult following. To say I look forward to watching this movie for years to come is an understatement. As technology and society progress further and at a faster rate, ‘La Spia Che Mi Amava’ (as with most things of quality and character) will only get better with age.

 


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