"Italians center their activities around food - and the Sunday noon meal, which is usually buffet-style, with grilled vegetables, cheeses, fresh pizza bread, prosciutto, omelets, tomatoes, and salads. There was always the temptation on Sundays to visit the great art and treasures of Siena, which are a little more than an hour's drive, or the Roman theater in Fiesole. Since we were in Florence before it got too hot, the weather was splendid."

"Other sites featured in the film are the Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella, one of the oldest perfumery-pharmacies in the world, established in 1221. The opera sequence in Hannibal was shot in front of the Pazzi Chapel, in the courtyard of the church of the Santa Croce. The Pazzi family had organized the assassination of one of the Medicis on the steps of this chapel. An ancestor, Renaldo Pazzi, was one of our lead actors in the script. It was a coincidence we would be shooting this pivotal scene there. Wherever the camera turned, the backdrop and vistas of Florence were rich: whether we were shooting in the loggia of the Uffizi Gallery, with the long cinematic corridors; to the statues featured in the Piazza della Signoria in front of the Palazzo Vecchio; to the exterior steps of the Spedale degli Innocenti [the Orphans' Hospital] with grand arches and the famous discs in terra cotta decorated by Andrea della Robbia; to the corridors along the Piazza della Repubblica; to the Mercato Nuovo, where the famed statue Fontanadel Porcellino, the wild boar that, legend has it, can ensure a return to Florence by throwing a coin into the basin and rubbing his nose."      

"We filmed inside the Palazzo Vecchio - very grand, very big, very oppressive. As Lecter, I killed two people inside the Palazzo Vecchio. I sliced a cop named Pazzi's throat out, disemboweled him, and threw him out the window into the Palazzo Vecchio, which was very nice. I enjoyed that. Thomas Harris [author of Hannibal] visited while we were shooting. He'd lived with these characters so long, that to see the sequence of Lecter throwing Pazzi to his death was something he relished. We were on the balcony of the Palazzo Vecchio where a member of the original Pazzi family, Francesco, was executed during the uprising, the rebellions. There was a lot of butchery back in the 15th, 16th centuries. Terrible things happened there. How did I feel? Kind of depressed, because a lot of people were burned at the stake in Florence in the 16th century. We were standing at a place where Savonarola [the15th-century religious leader] was burned at the stake. They just roasted these people alive and the mobs cheered. It was a pretty brutal time. Florence is a beautiful city to walk around. But it's pretty haunted, built on a huge mountain of bloodshed and horror. But it's still an interesting, beautiful city."

Grand Hotel Villa Cora
, $160-$1,100;
Hotel Lungarno, $170-$505;
Westin Excelsior Hotel, $275-$900;

Gelateria Vivoli
, gelato shop;
$2-$3; 011-39-055-292334
Caffè Rivoire, Italian; $19-$46;
Coco Lezzone, Italian; $20-$45;
Gelateria Ermini, gelato shop; $2-$3;
Gilli, Italian; $14-$42; 011-39-055-213896
Mamma Gina, Italian; $45-$75;
Osteria de' Benci, Italian; $19-$30;
Quattro Leoni, Italian; $7-$10;

Loretta Caponi
, handmade linens;