For a few days this week, a tiny mountain village in the Aosta valley sprang back to life as it became abuzz with Hollywood stars.
Gressoney-Saint-Jean, which lies at the bottom of Monte Rosa, was the first location in Italy for the filming of Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci, based on the true story of the killing of the former chief of the fashion house, Maurizio Gucci, by his ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani.
As with all ski resorts in Italy, Gressoney-Saint-Jean, home to about 800 people, was forced to cut off its seasonal lifeline because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The loss of the ski season has caused huge economic damage,” Mattia Alliod, the mayor of Gressoney-Saint-Jean, said. “For months we have been closed and have had no visitors, apart from those who have been able to come to their second homes over the last few weeks. So as you can imagine, the arrival of the film crew was like a breath of fresh air.”
A behind-the-scenes photo of Lady Gaga, who plays Reggiani in the film, and Adam Driver, who portrays Maurizio Gucci, taken on the balcony of what appears to be a ski lodge overlooking the Alps, garnered much excitement when it was shared on Lady Gaga’s Instagram account. She is wearing chunky jewellery and a white fur hat, and commenters noted her striking resemblance to Reggiani.
Other stars of the film include Al Pacino as Aldo Gucci, Jared Leto as Paolo Gucci and Jeremy Irons as Rodolfo Gucci.
All of the hotels in Gressoney-Saint-Jean, which is based on the resort of San Moritz, to where the Gucci couple would retreat in the 1980s, were put to use to host the stars and production crew of about 250, while residents were called upon to help prepare the sets.
“Even if it was just for four or five days, people were able to work,” said Alliod. “And on a psychological level, after a year of the pandemic, the filming gave us all a bit of a lift.”
The crew has now moved on to Milan before eventually shooting in other locations in Italy including Rome, Florence and Lake Como.
The film, due for release in October, is based on the book by Sara Gay Forden, The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour and Greed. It recounts the story of Reggiani, who hired a hitman to kill Gucci outside his office in Milan in 1995 after he went off with another woman. Reggiani, who was dubbed the “Black Widow” by the Italian media during her high-profile trial, was released from prison in 2016 after serving 17 years of her 29-year sentence. Gucci, who was the grandson of Guccio Gucci, the founder of the fashion house, was 46 when he was shot dead.
Reggiani said in a recent interview that she was so desperate to murder her estranged husband that she went around asking everyone if they could do it on her behalf, “even the local shopkeeper”. She added that she needed a hitman as she “didn’t have a good aim”. Reggiani said on Thursday she was annoyed that Lady Gaga hadn’t arranged to meet her before filming.
Italy has served as a backdrop for other films during the pandemic, including Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible 7, which was shot in Rome and Venice last year.
“This kind of publicity only does good for Italy,” said Alliod. “Even for a small town like ours, it becomes known around the world. So we’re all now hoping it will help to turn things around next season.”