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Thursday November 15th 2018

Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones | 2002

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones film location: Villa del Balbianello, Lake Como, northern Italy
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones film location: The Lake Country retreat: Villa del Balbianello, Lake Como, northern Italy

Episode II of the Star Wars saga boasts a couple of the series' most seductive locations, in Italy and Spain.

Yes, of course we were all disappointed that there's so little of the delightful Jar Jar Binks but, apart from that, Clones is a vast improvement over The Phantom Menace.

George Lucas began a retreat into the Fox Studios in Sydney, New South Wales, where much of the film was shot against green screen.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones film location: Sidi Driss Hotel, Matmata, Tunisia
Star Wars Episode II: the ‘Tatooine’ homestead: Sidi Driss Hotel, Matmata, Tunisia

But first the team returned to some familiar locations: once again 'Tatooine' is represented by the desert landscapes and native architecture of Tunisia, where the original Star Wars (now Episode IV: A New Hope) and Episode I: The Phantom Menace. It's a return to the Sidi Driss Hotel, Matmata for the interior of the 'Tatooine' homestead. The exterior was a set built on the Chott el Jerid near Nefta.

And the Palazzo Reale, the Royal Palace, Piazza Carlo III, in Caserta, near Naples, Italy, again becomes the interior of ‘‘Theed Palace’ on ‘Naboo’, as it for The Phantom Menace. The Palazzo was more recently seen as ‘The Vatican’ in both Ron Howard’s film of Angels And Demons and in Mission Impossible III.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones film location: Plaza de Espana, Seville, Spain
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones film location: Anakin and Padme on Naboo: Plaza de Espana, Seville, Spain

This time around, though, the exterior (which was entirely computer-generated in The Phantom Menace) is the Palaçio Español, a semi-circular arcaded building in the Plaza de España, Seville, built for the 1929 Spanish-American exhibition. The Palaçio Español is largely empty and, when I visited, a bit dilapidated, though there was evidence of restoration work.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones film location: Plaza de Espana, Seville, Spain
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones film location: Anakin and Padme walk in the palace grounds: Plaza de Espana, Seville, Spain

In the Plaza itself you'll find the canal, crossed by elegant 'Venetian' bridges over which Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and Padme (Natalie Portman) walk.

You may remember the pillared colonnade as the ‘Cairo’ hotel, where TE Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) ruffles the feathers of the British officers by demanding lemonade for his Arab companion, in David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia.

As the 70s generation of ‘movie brats’, including George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, are such fans of David Lean, it's difficult to dismiss this as mere coincidence (Spielberg, similarly, revisits a David Lean location in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).

More recently, the Plaza de España became the presidential palace of ‘Wadiya’ in Sacha Baron Cohen comedy, The Dictator.

The stunning lake retreat is on Lake Como in northern Italy near the Swiss border. The summer palace is Villa del Balbianello, near the village of Lenno, about 15 miles north of the town of Como on the lake’s western shore. The villa, with its unique loggia commanding views north and south, stands on the tip of a steep, wooded promontory.

It is open to the public. You reach the villa by boat from Lenno or nearby Sala Comacina. On Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays it’s possible to walk from Lenno. It’s about 15 minutes, and quite steep, from the southern end of the bay or from the wooded path leading up from Via Degli Artigiani, at the southern end of Lenno.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones film location: Villa del Balbianello, Lake Como, northern Italy
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones film location: The Lake Country retreat: Villa del Balbianello, Lake Como, northern Italy

The Villa crops up again in the 2006 version of Casino Royale, as the sanatorium at which James Bond (Daniel Craig) recuperates after his torture by Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen).