Venice is an incredible backdrop for romance and intrigue, especially for James Bond, Ian Fleming’s iconic spy 007 and the world’s number one Casanova. Nobody does it better.
For love and spyjinx, Bond returned La Serenissima in three films – From Russia With Love (1963), Moonraker (1979), and Casino Royale (2006). Its beautiful tangle canals campi are perfect the perfect setting for a silver screen spy flick, where action and scheming is just as beautiful as the backdrop. Here are the top James Bond locations in Venice.
The Grand Canal
The Grand Canal,Venice’s water thoroughfare, weaves its way through all three Bond films as B-roll. However, it also sets the vibe for the beginning moments of the final act of Casino Royale.
To recap Daniel Craig’s Bond has apprehended Mathis and resigns from MI6 to be with Vesper Lynd (played by Eva Green). Together, they head to Venice and that’s the moment we are waiting for. The Spirit 54, a vintage sail boat, makes it way down the Grand Canal with Bond and Vesper, passing all the requisite landmarks like the Accademia and Rialto bridges, the Salute and of course San Marco. It’s Bond at his happiest, and we’ll probably never see that again.
Piazza San Marco
Anytime you walk through Piazza San Marco, Venice’s largest square and named for the city’s patron saint, think about love and Casino Royale. Bond wakes up only to discover that Vesper has left him, and desperate runs through the arcades to the fictitious Basel Bank in search of her.
My favorite view of Piazza San Marco: from the balcony of the Basilica or at night
Blink and you’ll miss Piazza San Marco in “Moonraker,” instead you have several minute of square’s clocktower Torre dell’Orologio, an early Renaissance clock tower nearing 300 feet in height, as well as the historic Venini boutique.
Moonraker has one of the very best fights in Bond history. Roger Moore’s Bond fights off Drax henchman Chang in cleverly choreographed kendo sequence which leads Bond and Drax to the clock tower. Bond ultimately tosses Chang through the clock’s stained-glass face. Don’t worry, it was a replica.
Like the square, the best view of the tower is from the Basilica balcony.
Rialto Fish Market
The Mercato di Pesce at Rialto is probably Italy’s most famous fish market. Located on the sestiere San Polo side of the Rialto bridge, the centuries-old pescheria is set into neo-Gothic loggia, the perfect location for a Bond scene but you might not notice unless looking for it. Remember that sailboat scene mentioned above, the pescheria is one of the landmarks and if you look closely you’ll catch Quantum agent Adolf Gettler is nefariously lurking in the loggia.
Head to Rialto bridge and sign up for a market tour.
Location scouts for Casino Royale did a great job discovering Venice, and found one of the film’s most epic locations for Vesper’s heartbreaking death scene. The courtyard of Palazzo Pisani. is the setting for the fateful meeting between Vesper and Gettler leading up the tragic death scene. Who could forget those final moments when Vesper runs through the abandoned palazzo only to lock herself herself in an elevator as the palace’s flotation devices give way and sink into the Grand Canal?
The gorgeous Palazzo Pisani is home to the historic Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello, a music conservatory which regularly hosts concerts and visits.
Ponte dei Sospiri
The Bridge of Sighs has always been a pit stop for photos and tourists thanks to its picture-perfect setting and its reputation as the last steps (and breaths of freedom) a prisoner in the Doge’s Palace might have taken. “From Russia with Love starring Sean Connery, puts a more charming spin on Venice’s infamous bridge. In the final scene, a randy Bond cozies up with Russian agent Tatiana Romanova in a gondola as they pass under the bridge.
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A version of this article first appeared in Marriott Bonvoy Traveler, June 2019.