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About The Production

"This movie had almost a hundred locations and it was a constant pain of moving and preparing and dressing sets,” recalls producer Martha De Laurentiis. "But the locations were beautiful. Who could complain about being allowed to shoot in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence? Or President James Madison's farm in Montpelier or the amazing Biltmore Estate in Asheville?”

The film began production in Florence, Italy on May 8th, followed by various locations around Washington D.C., Richmond, Virginia and North Carolina.

"The whole second act takes place in Florence,” says Scott. "I'd never actually filmed there before. It was really quite an experience. It was kind of organized chaos – traffic control was difficult and we were there at the height of tourist season. But the city was very atmospheric. And it was the perfect home-in-exile for Hannibal.”

The first location in Florence was the Palazzo Capponi. One of the scenes there featured Hannibal, who is living under the identity of Dr. Fell, playing the grand piano in his apartment.

"It was a wonderful example of how flexible and open to suggestion Ridley was throughout the production,” says Hopkins. "The first day, I had to play the piano and while the cameras were setting up, I was just fooling around, playing some of my own music, some music I'd composed. Ridley came over, made a comment that he liked it. And when it came time for the cameras to roll, he just got up, said ‘Okay, good luck,' and that was it. That was the music Hannibal played.” Music would come into play in another scene filmed in Florence. In a courtyard adjacent to the famed Santa Croce, the production company staged an original opera.

Composer Hans Zimmer had hired a man whose talent he'd long admired, Patrick Cassidy, to come up with some original music for the less-than-five-minute opera. What Cassidy came up with was a piece called "Dante's Vita Nova.”

"It was one of the most beautifully staged scenes I've ever been involved with,” says Martha De Laurentiis. "It was pure pageantry. We had a choreographer named Joseph Rochlitz who created an original dance sequence for the dramatic death scene of Dante. The opera had to look like something special because a point is made in our story about how expensive and difficult to obtain the tickets were.

"Initially, we thought we would only have a few dozen extras in tuxedos and evening dress because the main shots in the scene were a pair of close-ups and a shot across a small section of the audience. But at the last minute, Ridley – quite correctly – realized he needed to open it up. So, we had to scramble to hire as many local extras as we could find – people who had their own formal eveningwear. When it was all lit up, with a big formally-dressed audience, the stage draped with silk, the dancers, the vocalists, it was nothing short of amazing.”

Another amazing thing was the coincidence they discovered when they selected this courtyard as the site on which they would film. "Ironically, the courtyard next to Santa Croce had been the chapel of the Pazzi Family in the 15th or 16th Century,” recalls Scott. "The Pazzi Family had organized the assassination of one of the Medicis on the steps of this chapel.

"I had no idea this was the history of the place when we saw it. I walked in and said, ‘Wow, this is a good place to have the opera' and the guy who was guiding us said, ‘Well, this is called the Pazzi Chapel.'”

The production moved to various other Florence landmarks, including:

    * The Ponte Vecchio - Florence's oldest bridge and home to some of the world's finest jewelry shops.

    * The Palazzo Vecchio - The seat of Florentine government for nearly a thousand years and a monument to the rule of<

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