Cinema Paradiso Filming Locations in Sicily: FULL List + Map!

Scene from Cinema Paradiso in Sicily, Italy

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If there is a non-English language film that I assume most casual filmgoers have seen, it’s… Well, to be honest, I’d assume it’s AmélieBut if an Italian film were to take that title, I’d take a stab in the dark at Cinema Paradiso (1988). Not a film by Fellini or Pasolini, but directed by a Sicilian, Giuseppe Tornatore. It’s an absolutely beautiful masterpiece, in my opinion. So I think there might be a fair few people out there who would want to visit the Cinema Paradiso filming locations in Sicily, and maybe you’re one of them.

Cinema Paradiso is about a young boy called Toto living in a fictional town called Giancaldo in Sicily just after WWII. He escapes his often tough home life in the village’s local movie theatre, Cinema Paradiso. He befriends the projectionist, Alfredo, and grows up loving film and everything about cinema. It’s just an exceptionally wonderful and sweet film with some quite beautiful filming locations.

The fictional town of Giancaldo is thought to be based on the director’s home town of Bagheria in the Palermo province, but not much filming took place there. Aside from the Cinema Paradiso filming locations that I’m listing below, apparently some filming also took place in these Sicilian towns: Termini Imerese, Bagheria, Chiusa Sclafani, Santa Flavia, Lascari. But I can’t find any specific locations.

So let’s take a look at the confirmed Cinema Paradiso filming locations on the Italian island of Sicily so you can visit them on your next trip!

Cinema Paradiso Filming Locations in Sicily

1. Vittorio Emanuele II Statue, Piazza Venezia, 00186, Rome

Yup, I’m starting my list of Cinema Paradiso filming locations in Sicily with a location that isn’t even in Sicily. What a fraud. But it’s the only one that isn’t filmed on the Italian island, so I thought I’d throw it in. We begin the film in ‘present-day’ where an adult Toto is living in Rome and drives down Via del Corso with the Alter of the Fatherland building in Piazza Venezia with a statue to Vittorio Emanuele II in the background.

Piazza Venezia, one of the Cinema Paradiso filming locations in Sicily, Italy

Scene from Cinema Paradiso in Italy
© 1988 Miramax

2. Piazza Umberto I, 90030, Palazzo Adriano, Palermo

Just ten minutes into Cinema Paradiso, and we’re introduced to the main film location, the beating heart of the movie. Piazza Umberto I is the square where a lot of the action takes place throughout the film. The ‘Cinema Paradiso’ is on this square and although the set isn’t there anymore, you can visit the Cinema Paradiso Museum which is in Piazza Umberto I. The set literally just occupied some empty space on the Piazza smack bang in the middle of Via Nino Bixio. I guess that road had no choice but to shut down during filming!

And the house that Alfredo projects The Firemen of Viggiù (1949) onto for an angry mob of cinema fans? Number 36 in the piazza!

Piazza Umberto I as seen in Cinema Paradiso set in Sicily, Italy
© 1988 Miramax
Cinema Paradiso in Sicily, Italy
© 1988 Miramax

3. Chiesa di Maria Santissima Assunta, Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 90030, Palazzo Adriano, Palermo

After the priest rings his bell at Alfredo in the projection room, the film cuts to a bell ringing on top of a church and we get the beautiful birds-eye view of Piazza Umberto I. The church with the bell is the Chiesa di Maria Santissima Assunta. Later in the film, two women sit on the steps while spreading tomato paste on wooden boards.

4. Castello di Castelbuono, Piazza Castello, 10, 90013, Castelbuono, Palermo

After fulfilling his altar boy duties, Toto heads off to school which in reality is far, far away from the other Cinema Paradiso filming locations in Palazzo Adriano. We’re much nearer the coast in Castelbuono, where Castello di Castelbuono is standing in as the exterior of Toto’s school. Quite a grand looking school!

Castelbuono as seen in Cinema Paradiso in Sicily, Italy
© 1988 Miramax

5. Ruderi Di Poggioreale, SP27, 91020, Poggioreale, Trapani

After Toto learns about the death of his father through a newsreel at the cinema, he and his mum walk through a town left in ruins to confirm the tragedy. I’m not sure where this location is in the world of the film, maybe another part of Giancaldo? Or a Sicilian city that experienced bombing? Regardless, the filming location is of the ghost town in the Trapani region of Sicily: Poggioreale.

Though I think we’re supposed to believe the war was responsible for the town’s destruction in Cinema Paradiso, the Belice Valley earthquake in 1968 is the real-life culprit for the ruined town.

Ruins of Poggioreale in Sicily, Italy
Courtesy of Piefke La Belle

6. Porta Pescara, Via Vittorio Emanuele, 105, 90015, Cefalù, Palermo

Much later in the film when Toto is now a strapping young teenager, an outdoor movie screening of Ulysses (1954) takes place on a harbour before it gets rained off. All of the other towns used for filming locations have been inland, but this one is Porta Pescara in Cefalù. Which is a place I have actually visited!!

Cefalù is a gorgeous seaside town just a short train ride away from Sicily’s capital, Palermo. Definitely worth a day trip if you’re visiting Palermo for a city break like I did.

Cefalu Port, a Cinema Paradiso filming locations in Sicily, Italy

Cefalu Port, a Cinema Paradiso filming locations in Sicily, Italy

7. Chiesa di Maria Santissima del Lume, Via Giordano Bruno, 90030, Palazzo Adriano, Palermo

When Toto hears of Alfredo’s death (sorry, spoilers!), he visits his hometown for the first time in decades. Alfredo’s funeral takes place in another church on Piazza Umberto I, Chiesa di Maria Santissima del Lume. Church and cinema are featured quite heavily in the film, as I’m sure they were both strong influences in young Toto’s life as a Sicilian growing up in the 1950s.

Utterly beautiful film and the ending is one of my all-time favourites. You’d need to have a heart of stone to not be moved by Alfredo and Toto’s father-son type of relationship. It’s absolutely no wonder why so many people want to make a pilgrimage to the Cinema Paradiso movie locations in Sicily.

Those are all the Cinema Paradiso filming locations in Sicily! Have you visited Sicily or watched the film? Let me know in the comments below!


Read next:

8 of the Best Independent Cinemas in Sicily, Italy


Cinema Paradiso Filming Locations in Sicily, Italy | almostginger.com

13 thoughts on “Cinema Paradiso Filming Locations in Sicily: FULL List + Map!

  1. Pernille Lykke says:

    Such a coincidence I saw you website, and such a coincidence I was just around the corner from Palazzo Adriana!
    When I arrived it was siesta, the museum was closed, but seeing me a young guy rushes to open the door, had a beautiful guided tour in the museum – only opened for two months…… I pray fort their success 🙏

    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, Pernille! That’s amazing – so pleased you had the opportunity to visit the museum during your trip!

  2. Marie says:

    Vi y seguiré viendo la película increíble, su música extraordinaria, sus actores. Inolvidable. La amo desde la primera vez 😍

    • Rebecca says:

      It’s an amazing film isn’t it, I don’t think I could ever get bored of it 🙂 And thank you so much!

      • Nicky Adams says:

        I watched this film for the first time almost 30 years ago and after the music popped up on Spotify I decided to watch it again. What an amazing film! Watched it tonight with fresh eyes and on a streaming service 😂 Thankyou for your research much appreciated

    • Alton says:

      Tonight we will be with our daughter at Porto Pescara and I’ll explain where we are. We have also traced the numerous film locations in Venezia. Especially from the movie Summertime with Katherine Hepburn. Special moments!

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