by Joris De Smet
May 1, 2011
Welcome back to the adventures of Mark Dermul, our own Indiana Jones who has boldly gone where no one had gone before!
We hope you enjoyed the previous instalments of this mini-series of Star Wars Experiences; we like how you come back for more!
As you know, Mark took us to fairly inhospitable –but nevertheless very interesting– places: the icy plains of Hoth (Norway) and the hot deserts of Tatooine (Tunisia).
But let’s be very honest; not everybody is as adventurous and willing to look for Star Wars in such remote locations. No, some of us go through life in the stern conviction that you should never venture too far from a good, decent armchair and that a well-filled fridge should remain only a few paces away. Desserts and “crème-glace”, not deserts and glaciers!
Well, even for the likes of me (I confess!), Mark has a travelling destination. This time we’re going to meet with civilisation (hah!) and roam the surface of planet Naboo!
We only came to know about planet Naboo in the first of the Prequel movies and it is a peculiar world indeed:
Naboo is a geologically unique world. It lacks a molten core, indicative of an ancient world. The planet is a conglomerate of large rocky bodies permeated by countless caves and tunnel networks. This causes numerous swampy lakes on the surface, which lead deeper into the planet's structure. The native Gungans have developed transports that exploit these cave networks, but even these hardy explorers pause at venturing too deep into the planet core, for it is infested with gargantuan sea beasts with ravenous appetites.
–StarWars.com on planet Naboo
Rest assured, even if there is mention of some danger in that description; that is hardly the case for the “Naboo of real life”. The worst you can encounter is a native Gungan... excuse me... native Italian.
Yes, indeed! If you were thinking that the beautiful sights and places at Naboo were all computer-generated then you’re wrong! Some of the decors are real and public domain in Italy. Hence our destination is: Lake Como and the Villa del Balbianello in tantalising beautiful Italy. Ma sí!
As a matter of fact, the area of the Lago Como is so breathtaking that Mark even forgot Star Wars for long enough to jot down a chapter full of notes about places you will just have to go visit when you’re there. The splendour and beauty of the Lago area is really unparalleled.
But this is a Star Wars site and not a travelling agency, so back to lightsaber swinging; what is there to see about Star Wars around Lake Como?
You can always warm up to the subject by visiting some ‘BTS’ (‘Behind The Scenes’) locations: there is the old Lenno public school as the place where Lucasfilm set up the production offices and the Grand Hotel Tremezzo where the crew stayed during the shooting of the Lake Como scenes. But of course there’s more. What do you think of the meadow in which Anakin and Padmé had their romantic picnic in “Attack of the Clones”? There’s also the field in which Anakin tried to ride a Shaak rodeo-style and –another BTS location– the place that was used as a dressing room by Natalie and Hayden for that scene. Not far away is then the boat dock from the “departure for Tatooine” (deleted) scene and some more BTS locations in the form of... er... the toilets and a patio, which were again used as dressing rooms for Hayden and Natalie respectively.
The most exciting part of the visit, however, will remain the Villa del Balbianello itself, of which both the interior and the exterior was used for filming the scenes of Anakin and Padmé at the Naboo Resort. Of course, all of the locations got somewhat touched up on computer later again, but you will be amazed at how much of the décor is actually not CGI. You’ll certainly recognize the boat dock of the Naboo Lake Retreat, the terrace and the balcony, the Loggia, the gardens and even Padmé’s room at the top of the residence.
There’s actually more than Star Wars to be had at the Villa, just in case you can’t get enough of movie location hunting. Rumour has it that some “007” movie was also shot there. Like to do even better than that and go movie actor hunting? Well, also that is possible, because none other than George Clooney has a summerhouse around the corner. Granted, he was never a Jedi, but admit it... he should have been!
If this article has wet your appetite for a visit to Naboo, it is actually a very good idea to pick up the travel guide Mark wrote about this adventure, “Lake Como & Villa del Balbianello”. Besides a very extensive travel report (with lots of colour pictures) and GPS locations, you will find everything that you need to prepare for the trip in this book, including a budget calculation, addresses, packing tips and general information about travelling to and in Italy. I dare say this manuscript is a quintessential accessory to your trip.
All information on the book and Mark’s adventures can be found at http://www.markdermul.be/naboo/.
Feel compelled now to kiss your own princess on the Balcony of the Naboo Lake Retreat or ponder last night’s dreams in a funny wide-legged stance on the Loggia? Off to Naboo with you then! Just stay clear of pesky... Gungans...
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