Spy Who Loved Me Holiday
Sardinia, Italy by Glyn Harper
The Film:The Spy Who Loved Me (1977; Roger Moore)
Worldwide Gross: $185,400,000
Having seen ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ when I was a child, I always longed to own a Lotus Esprit, as I’m sure many of you did yourselves. Eventually I purchased a White (Of course!) 1988 Esprit Turbo back in 1998 and have cherished it ever since.
A couple of years ago I decided it would be fantastic one day if I were to visit the locations where they actually did the filming, to ‘complete the circle’ as it were. This year I was fortunate enough to do that, and this is my brief story of events.
As many of you probably already know, ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ was filmed all over the place, but the Esprit driving scenes were filmed in the Italian Island of Sardinia. With this in mind, I contacted a very nice chap, Roger Becker, to find out more specifically where the locations were.
You see, Roger was involved in the original filming. He works for Lotus, and was originally sent out to deliver the Esprit and look after it during filming, but the story is that the stunt drivers could not make the Esprit perform on Camera as they were hoping, yet Roger was able to effortlessly get the car to spin, slide and pirouette like the very best of them. Roger therefore was given the enviable task of driving the car for all the main scenes.
A few emails backwards and forward, and I was ready for my trip to Sardinia. I took with me my Sat Nav enabled personal organiser, complete with pre programmed location. After a day or so in Sardinia, it was time for the trek over to the main locations, the Costa Smerelda.
I wasn’t actually staying in the Costa Smerelda, as it’s a rather expensive part of Sardinia.
The first location to visit was the famous ‘Cala de Volpe’ hotel. This is located next to the town of Porto Cervo, and is where all of the scenes in the hotel where Bond checks in are filmed, as well as where Bond gets on board Naomis boat to go out to Strombergs sea platform thing.
Here are a couple of captures from the original film to remind you of these locations.
Since the film was made, the Cala de Volpe has not really changed that much, apart from being given a lick of paint or two. It was quite amazing to actually be in the exact spot that I remembered from all those years ago. These are the pictures I took while I was there. You may notice my extremely expensive orange juice on the table (15 Euros!) but more importantly, the area behind me is where the speedboat pulls up.
The next stop was to the part of the film that I remember the most, and for me, was the most exciting place to visit. Vista Point.
Whilst only a short scene in the film, this was actually the part where Bond first meets Naomi in the helicopter, having escaped from the missile firing Motorbike, and Jaws’ Ford Taurus (filmed at other parts of the Island). Vista Point is only about a mile away from the Cala de Volpe hotel, and only takes a minute to get there.
Here is a shot of the road just before Vista point then…
.. and now..
When you’re at Vista Point, you instantly recognise the small wall at the side of the road that Bond spins around a couple of times, before heading back down the hill.
These are original captures from the film.
The main differences at Vista Point today, are the addition of a tree, and also a small ‘kerb’ to stop cars going over the edge. That kerb wasn’t there in the 70’s, so at this point it’s worth pointing out what a good driver Roger Becker is, and how brave he is. If he’d put the Esprit over the edge of Vista Point, it would have been heading down a 60 degree slop for about a mile, and would certainly have killed him. A true star, and I now understand why the stuntmen didn’t perhaps want to drive to close to the ‘edge’ in every sense of the word!
This is Vista Point today. (well, last week).
The final part of my trip was to the Rozanzina hotel. This is only a couple of miles away from the Cala de Volpe, and is the beach where they filmed the Esprit coming out of the water. At first I couldn’t recognise the exact spot, but I found it later on when I got home. This is the location today.
On the way back to the hotel, I actually spotted another set location with a particularly bizarre rock at the side of the road that actually appears in the film, proving that pretty much all of the scenes were filmed within about a mile of each other. Obviously on the film things are pieced together to look like a huge long car chase, but in actual fact they re used the same bit of road many times but from different angles. I can only assume the sub-machine gun toting Sardinian Police would only give permission for a short stretch of road to be closed!
After a trip to the harbour at Porto Cervo looking at the expensive boats (the biggest actually being registered in the Isle of Man where I live, complete with a Manx Flag!) it was back to the hotel.
All in all, it was a fantastic and memorable experience to visit all the exact locations. I guess you have to have really be a great fan of the Film and the Esprit to make the effort, although if you are going to Sardinia anyway on Holiday (I was.. I didn’t make the trip specially.. honest!!) then it’s certainly worth a visit.
On the whole Sardinia is not exactly teaming with activities as you may find somewhere like Cyprus or Dubai, and the driving there is, well, ‘assertive’ shall we say, so I wouldn’t recommend taking your Esprit. It’s a lovely place though and very relaxing. If you like spending all week by the pool or the beach, or driving around some excellent scenery, then I thoroughly recommend it.
Sardinia is also only 11km and 20 Euros on a ferry away from Corsica, and that is well worth a trip. You arrive there to a little village teetering precariously on the edge of a really high cliff. But they speak French there, and as I speak more French than I do Italian (ie, none) it meant that for the first time in a week when I ordered something at lunchtime I actually got what I had ordered, and not a live Octopus with a telephone in it’s mouth or something. They also filmed ‘Never say Never Again’ in Corsica too, but I didn’t find Kim Basinger there.