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In the Footsteps of Indiana Jones in Venice

Some years ago, a few sequences from the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, were filmed in Venice. Specifically, in August 1988. Yet the fascination produced by good old Indy’s scenes in the city is still imprinted on our retinas.

Many of us would like to be able to take DeLorean in Back to the Future and travel, not only in space, but also in time, in order to attend the shoot and see the young Harrison Ford performing great feats. Fantasies aside, we can indeed now plan our trip to Venice in the form of a game in which, after the typical tours of St Mark’s Square and theRialto Bridge,we follow the tracks left by Indiana Jones in the beautiful city of canals.

First Stop – the Salute

The Venice scenes begin when Indiana and his colleague, Marcus, meet the archaeologist, Elsa Schneider, on alighting from the vaporetto. The vaporetto is the water taxi that acts as public transport in Venice and plies the regular routes along the Grand Canal and between the various islands in the lagoon. Specifically, they get off at the stop known as Salute, on Line 1 of the vaporetto– the most popular route – immediately alongside the church of Santa Maria della Salute. Clearly, the stop is named after the church. But, those scenes don’t really match the current Salute stop, as they were shot at the jetty of the fondamenta della Dogana alla Salute. From here you can catch a glimpse of the Campanile di San Marco in the distance – located in one corner of St Mark’s Square – as it appears in the movie.

Ponte dei Pugni

Once they have disembarked, they stroll along some of the quiet streets of the Dorsoduro quarter. The gallant Indiana gives Dr Schneider a flower while crossing the Ponte dei Pugni (bridge of fists), curiously named after the years of fist fights between the rival bands of the Nicolotti and the Castellani. The losers usually ended up in the water as, until quite recently, the bridge lacked a railing.

The Chiesa di San Barnaba

Finally, they get to the San Barnaba library – where Indy’s father was last seen – the facade of which is actually part of the Church of San Barnaba (Chiesa di San Barnaba). Bear in mind that, of the natural backdrops to the quests of Indiana Jones, the one the diehards of the saga were most impressed by was the Treasury of Petra, in Jordan, which was used as a secret temple housing the Grail, and the one in the Venice Library, located precisely in this church.

The church of San Barnaba was founded in the 9th century but its current appearance is the result of the 1749 restoration. It is located in the Campo San Barnaba square, where Katharine Hepburn was also the protagonist of a scene in Summertime in which she falls into the canal. Indiana Jones emerges from a sewer in that square once he has escaped from the catacombs under the library, uttering the celebrated words, “Ah, Venice!”

Some Familiar Backdrops

Fleeing from members of the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword, they run along the fictitious street of Santa Lucia. This is where a number of speedboat chase scenes begin which were actually filmed at the jetties of the English town of Tilbury. The Venetian scenes then continue in the vicinity of the Grand Canal and the Palazzo Ducale. Indiana then releases Kazim – a member of the Brotherhood he has captured – opposite the Palazzo Barbaro, level with the Ponte dell’Accademia. This palace, also known as Ca ‘Barbaro, once accommodated such distinguished guests as Sargent, Henry James, Robert Browning, Whistler and Monet. Two other facades can also be distinguished in the scene – those of Palazzo Venier dei Leoni and Palazzo Barbarigo.

Indiana Jones’ adventure in Venice ends with a shot of the most typical Venetian scene – a gondola punting a couple along the Rio del Malpaga, with the Ponte de l’Avogaria in the background.

Venice – a Movie Set

If you like discovering film locations during your trips, try to do it with some of the other numerous movies that have been shot in Venice, notably The Talented Mr. Ripley, Casino Royale,The Tourist or The Italian Job,to mention some of the best known ones. It is a unique, fun way of unearthing interesting spots in the city. What are you waiting for? Check out our flights here.


Text by Scanner FM

Images by Carlos de Paz, Didier Descouens, Frans Persoon, John_k, Bernard-G

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