Il Postino | 1994
Michael Radford’s irresistible tragi-comedy owes much of its charm to the gorgeous Mediterranean locations. The death of star Massimo Troisi less than 24 hours after filming was completed, though, adds an inevitably poignancy to the film.
Procida is a small island – you can cross it easily on foot, though there’s a good bus service, too. On Procida you’ll find the little bar in which Mario Ruoppolo (Troisi) shyly romances barmaid Beatrice (Maria Grazia Cucinotta). It’s Bar La Taverna del Postino on the seafront of the tiny fishing village of Marina di Corricella, on the northeast of the island. Marina di Corricella, a near-vertical warren of pastel-coloured houses linked by a zig-zag of scalatinelli (staircase streets), is simply one of the most striking places you’re likely to visit.
The interior, by the way, was recreated to suit the period and feel of the film in the Cinecittà Studios in Rome. As you can see, the real bar boasts a sinuously Marine design.
Leading up from the port to the pale yellow Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie and the fortified citadel of the Terra Murata, Via San Rocco provides the village, in which the corrupt politician exhorts the locals to “Vote for Di Cosimo”. You might recognise the same street as ‘Mongibello’, where Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law) rides his scooter in The Talented Mr Ripley.
At the top of Via San Rocco is the small square of Piazza die Martiri (Square of the Martyrs – named for the twelve inhabitants of Procida executed during the Neapolitan revolution of 1799), where you can see the exterior of the building which doubled as the post office from which Mario collects post for exiled Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (Philippe Noiret). Judging by the brightly restored exterior, it looks like the location fee was put to good use.
The same Piazza appeared as the town square of ‘Mongibello’ in The Talented Mr Ripley.
Also on Procida is one of the two beaches used in the film. Spiaggia del Pozzo Vecchio can be found on the northwest coast, in the Cottimo district. Just ask directions to the ‘Postino beach’.
The other beach used, and the house in which Neruda stays, are on the island of Salina, north of Sicily. The house is a private home at the village of Pollara, on the northwest coast. Below is the beach of Pollara, overshadowed by the huge cliff known as Il Costone. Sadly, the beach has been damaged by careless tourism, with overenthusiastic fans taking away sand and pebbles. Visit with care, and – as always – please don’t disturb the location.
• Many thanks to the Ischia Film Festival and to Michelangelo Messina for help with this section.