Perhaps the best aspect of being a world class secret agent is that you’re constantly travelling to glamorous locales. Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) are no exception, and throughout The Man from U.N.C.L.E. you’ll see them fighting, car chasing and spying their way through some of the most glamorous places in the world.
In The Man from U.N.C.L.E., the bulk of action takes place over two major locations, Berlin, and Rome. As writer, Lionel Wigram explains, “Rome typifies the style of the ‘60s and Berlin is, of course, the focal point of all those Cold War movies.”
And yet, if you want to visit the Rome and Berlin you see in this movie, visiting Rome and Berlin today may not be the best way to do it. So here’s a spies travel guide to the locations of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
If you want stylish, and you want sixties, Rome is the place to be. Solo and Kuryakin find their travels take them across the fames Spanish Steps, Teatro Marcello and the Pizza Venezia, staying at the Grand Plaza Hotel between adventures to cosy up to the Vinciguerras.
However, while many of Rome’s iconic locations were used for the film, they had to look further afield to really capture the feel of 60s Rome. Supervising location manager Sue Quinn explains, “We started in Rome, with all its fantastic 1930s architecture from the Mussolini era, which looks so great on film. But Rome is bursting with tourists and a logistical challenge, so we went to Naples and the surrounding area to expand our palette.”
The area of Germany that was once East Germany has changed a great deal over the last 50 years. This made location hunting for parts of the film that were set there more of a challenge. Surprisingly, the best fit often turned out to be the UK, whether through practical locations or custom built sets at Warner Bros. Leavesden Studios.
At the studios the crew built such iconic locations as the notorious Checkpoint Charlie, while further afield parts of the Greenwich Naval College in Southeast London, and the Chatham Docks in Kent, became portions of the Berlin Wall thanks to some CGI meddling.
Of course, the biggest setting in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is Vinciguerra’s island base of operations, because what’s the point in being a villain without an island base of operations? The biggest problem here was that Vinciguerra island doesn’t actually exist, so the film makers had to create it from a patchwork of different locations around Europe. Among the sites they used were a series of underground tunnels at the Fonderia Iron Works in Naples, which become the dungeons of the Vinciguerra island compound, while the Castle Baja in the Bay of Naples, originally built for the Emperor Nero, provided the lab’s impressive exteriors.
Other exteriors for the islands included locations from Rome to Aberystwyth, from the Miseno tunnels and Baia Castle in Naples to Hankley Common in Surrey.
Stunt coordinator Paul Jennings remembers of shooting the climactic chase scene on the island, “We start in Italy, go through a tunnel and up a mountainside, still in Italy, and then cut to a shot in Wales, then to Hankley Commons, and mix in some of Northshire. We were all over the place, but, in the end, I think we achieved something really different.”