Based on Leonie Frieda’s 2004 non-fiction book ‘Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France,’ Starz’s ‘The Serpent Queen’ is a period drama series created by Justin Haythe. It follows the life of Catherine de’ Medici, an Italian noblewoman born into the Medici family who is married as an orphaned teenager, expected to give birth to heirs and bring a hefty dowry. However, she finds out that her husband is already in love with an older woman. What makes matters even more complicated for her is when she discovers that she cannot conceive children.
Even after all these challenges, Catherine somehow manages to maintain her marriage and rule for three decades. By breaking the fourth wall, she lets the viewers in on her story and provides an immersive viewing experience, keeping us hooked on the series. Moreover, the setting of the 16th century and the backdrop of grand halls and palaces make one curious to learn about the filming sites of ‘The Serpent Queen.’ Well, if you are one such curious soul, you might be interested in what we have to share!
The Serpent Queen Filming Locations
‘The Serpent Queen’ is filmed in France and Italy, specifically in Marseille, Amboise, Chambord, Chenonceaux, Villandry, and Castel Gandolfo. The principal photography for the inaugural iteration of the historical series reportedly commenced in April 2021 and wrapped up in September of the same year. Even though the shooting for season 1 took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, it worked in favor of the filming unit, as the showrunner, Erwin Stoff, shared in a September 2022 interview with Cinemablend.
Stoff said, “The funny thing is, for as difficult as it was to shoot during COVID, it was actually very good to us. Because all those locations were places that no one had ever shot… because they’re usually overrun with tourists. So because of COVID, there were no tourists, and they were in desperate need of money. So we actually got to shoot in the rooms, hallways, and gardens where Catherine lived. So that was actually for us and for the show, an incredibly lucky break.” Now, without further ado, let us tell you all about the specific locations that appear in the series!
The ‘The Serpent Queen’ team seemingly sets up camp in Marseille, France’s second most populous city, to shoot a few sequences for the series. Located on the coast of the Gulf of Lion near the mouth of the Rhône river, Marseille has its own unique culture that separates the city from the rest of the nation. It is also considered a regional cultural and entertainment center and home to many historical and maritime museums.
Some important scenes for ‘The Serpent Queen’ are lensed in Amboise, a commune in central France. Located in the Indre-et-Loire department, it is famous for the Clos Lucé manor house, where the legendary Leonardo da Vinci lived. Furthermore, there is a historical 20th-century fountain made by Max Ernst right in front of the marketplace, attracting numerous tourists.
Other Locations in France
To portray the gigantic châteaus common in the 16th century, the cast and crew members of ‘The Serpent Queen’ utilize actual historical châteaus in different locations across France. Several pivotal sequences are taped on location in and around Château de Chambord in the commune of Chambord and Château de Chenonceau in the commune of Chenonceaux. In addition, Château de Villandry at 3 Rue Principale in Villandry serves as another prominent production location for the series.
Castel Gandolfo, Italy
For lensing purposes, the production team of ‘The Serpent Queen’ even stops in Castel Gandolfo, a town in the Lazio region of Italy. In particular, they utilize the premises of the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo on Piazza della Libertà to record the scenes set in Italy. In the interview mentioned above, Liv Hill (Catherine) also shared her experience shooting in the actual locations where her character once lived.
The actress said, “…Then when we went to Italy to film for five days, we were the first people to ever have filmed in the Papal Palace. So it was gorgeous. That was probably the highlight for me. I’ve never been on such luxurious set locations before, and I would never have probably done that had I not been an actress.”
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