Tuscanys countrysides - plural, for there are many very different ones - quickly cast their spells. The variety is lush: densely wooded mountain ranges, undulating, sun-drenches hills and dales of vineyards and olive groves, clusters of ancient brick and fieldstone farm buildings, sheer rugged cliffs good as alpine mountaineering training grounds, scores of miles of beaches both rocky and sandy, treeless hills of corn rolling on over the horizon, noble villas, Romanesque churches, mediaeval walled towns . . .Cinematography could hardly ignore all that, and in fact, the films set in rural and urban Tuscany are many. Tuscan-born directors naturally gravitate to their homelands: Benigni, Zeffirelli, Benvenuti among others. Non Tuscan ones, both Italian and foreign, have done well with their Tuscan venues: Ridley Scott with Tom Harris Hannibal, Bertolucci with Io ballo da sola, Audrey Wells with Under the Tuscan Sun. In these and many others the mere presence of Tuscany takes on the function of a dramatic element in the unfolding the plot and the identities of the personages. Many other epics are filmed here even though the stories are not set in Tuscany as such: Ridley Scotts Gladiator, in which scenes meant to be in Spain were filmed in and near Siena, and Denys Arcands Invasion of the Barbarians, in which people drink an Excelsus of Villa Banfi produced in Montalcino. Shakespeare is a frequent guest: Zefirelli made three Romeo and Juliets here, Kenneth Branagh chose a villa near Greve in Chianti for Much Ado About Nothing, as did Robert Hofmann for A Midsummer Nights Dream. The Taviani brothers created Goethes Elective Affinities in and near Pisa, while Australias Jane Campion set Henry Jamess Portrait of a Lady in Lucca. All the world knows the James Ivory renditions of Room with a View set on Florences river fronts or lungarni and in the surrounding countryside, nor can one forget Minighellas Tuscan stagings of The English Patient, Benignis Life is Beautiful and Fellinis Eight and a Half. Top-quality art-film makers like Tarkovskij set Nostalghia in Tuscany, as Michalkov did Oci ciornie.But it would be much more satisfying to come here and see Tuscany for ones self rather than just glimpse it in filmed backgrounds!