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As we begin to plan for warmer months ahead, Call Me By Your Name has induced some severe summer craving. Set “somewhere in northern Italy”, the film tells of a love story between Elio (played by Timothée Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Hammer). A beautiful villa, leafy streets and terracotta walls create the perfect backdrop as the relationship steadily simmers. The Oscar-winning film has firmly positioned Lombardy as the ultimate sultry destination for 2018. If you want to take to the road to see the sites for yourself, here’s how to do it.
Under two hours from Milan, here bikes clatter along the cobbles as locals sip espressos in the town square. Home to 164 violin workshops, Cremona has a history of craftsmanship with professional musicians travelling there from around the world to commission local artisans to make bespoke violins. On average, a violin maker will only make 10 violins a year because the process is so time consuming – and the instrument will last a lifetime. As for sightseeing, head up the brick bell tower (the tallest in Europe) for views of the town and crowds flocking below. Here you’ll find a handful of good restaurants, such as the appropriately named Il Violino which serves up four different types of risotto in spacious, deep-blue surrounds.
Where to stay: A 30-minute drive from Cremona, Villa Bottini is a 19th-century delight fit with huge iron beds and high ceilings. In the best rooms, guests are treated to views of mulberry or magnolia trees lining the park, which also features a lemon house and swimming pool.
The scene when: the family are relaxing in the villa, which is located just north of Cremona. Unfortunately the property is privately owned but it is currently for sale for €1.7 million for any super fans with cash to burn.
Italy road trippers would have probably bypassed Crema in the past, but since Call Me By Your Name was released the number of visitors has increased by 30%. The tiny town is worth an amble and is an excellent spot for people watching, but there’s not a lot to see beyond baroque churches and palaces. For lunch, head to Trattoria Quin; start with local pickles and burrata, be open to trying the bittersweet stuffed tortelli (it’s not for everyone) and don’t miss the tiramisu with amaretto and Crema-style caramelised hazelnut to finish.
Where to stay: B&B San Clemente offers huge rooms overlooking the town. It’s filled with paintings, the breakfast is fantastic and the owner will tell you all the important things like where to find the best pasta in town.
The scene when: Elio and Oliver cycle through Via Buso then settle in Piazza Duomo on ivory table and chairs. The tourist board have even resurrected the same bikes used in the film in the exact. Crema’s hidden alleyways are also featured when French girlfriend Marzia sidles up to Elio.
Bergamo is completely walled as if enveloped in ancient Italy. The “mountain village” in the top part of town is reached by funicular. Buildings are made from a local green stone called arinaria, which gives the town a lovely uniform hue. Bakeries windows are filled with acid-yellow “polenta e osei” cakes, but Il Caffe della Funicolare is the place for dishes typical of the region; asparagus risotto, tortellini and “torta sbrisolona” (a crumbly biscuit cake). If you want to explore further, San Pellegrino have opened a spa 40 minutes away from the town with gorgeous thermal baths surrounded by limes trees.
Where to stay: Hotel Relais is the only five-star hotel in Bergamo, boasting 30 modern rooms featuring touches of Italian design in the wood finishes. The excellent spa offers a Finnish sauna, steam bath and “cold fog” skin treatments.
The scene when: Elio and Oliver elope on a weekend away and dance to the car radio near private villa Palazzo Terzi (where tours can be booked on appointment). The fountain used in the scene does not exist and was constructed purely for that moment – but you can spot the two lion sculptures in the archway nearby.
On the edge of Lake Garda, Sirmione is known for its archeological sites and Mediterranean feel. Twisted olive groves line the coast which lead up to the Grotte di Catullo ruins where visitors can meander between the ancient pillars. Pale patina-coloured rocks, creeping vines and rosemary bushes add to the sheen of pastel green, mirrored in the emerald lake. Once you’ve had enough of history, jump back into the present day for an Aperol spritz on Jamaica Beach. Spas are also great here thanks to the natural sulphur bubbling below which does wonders for skin – Aquaria is one of the best. When filtering through tourist traps for dinner, Il Girasole will be brimming for a reason; their wine list is extraordinary and the pizzas will not disappoint.
Where to stay: Presenting the best views of Lake Garda you can find in Sirmione, Hotel Eden’s bedrooms are a crisp white, highlighting the turquoise of the surrounding waters. With an on-site spa, “solarium terrace” and snack bar, this is a place to while away summer days.
The scene when: Elio’s father discovers a ruined torso sculpture in the ocean. You’ll also recognise the pillars that Elio boyishly weaves through.
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