How Wonder Woman’s set designer recreated the utopic “Paradise Island” in Italy
Princess Diana is born and raised in the gorgeous island utopia of Themyscira, a reference to the home of the Amazons of Greek mythology. Italian locations featured in the film include Castel del Monte in the Apulia region for all the interior shots; Palinuro, a small seaside resort in the southern Italian region of Campania; Villa Cimbrone (in Ravello); the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sassi di Matera, an ancient settlement considered to be one of the first places where humans inhabited the country; and the city of Matera.
Director Patty Jenkins and production designer Aline Bonetto chose a location in southern Italy to recreate the virginal lush landscapes of “Paradise Island”, complete with waterfalls and natural rock formations, Greek-mythology inspired towers and dwellings, and dusty gladiator-style training grounds for the Amazons to learn combat.
Castel del Monte
Castel del Monte is a 13th-century citadel and castle situated on a hill in Andria in the Apulia region of southeast Italy.
This is where the Amazonian princess, Diana of Themyscira lives, growing up among a tribe of fierce women warriors who live in a secluded island—within Earth, but outside the realm of the real world. Diana learns about the legendary stories of the creation of the Amazons from her mother, the queen Hippolyta, and also the role that the Greek god Zeus played in giving life to her.
Aline Bonetto is a French production designer and set decorator, best known for her work with Jean-Pierre Jeunet on films such as Amélie, A Very Long Engagement, and Micmacs à tire-larigot, among others. For Wonder Women, Aline drew inspiration from Greek islands and mountain ranges drawn from Chinese landscapes, and lots of waterfalls and azure sea to lend the island a magical, untouched feel.
Palinuro is a small seaside resort in the southern Italian region of Campania.
The shores of the lush Themyscira was introduced in Wonder Woman’s first fictitious appearance in the 1941 All Star Comics No 8, created by William Moulton Marston. The name for the entire archipelago became “The Paradise Islands”, when the city was renamed “Themyscira” with the character’s February 1987 relaunch in Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #1. Both the island and city are named after the mythological city of Themiscyra, the capital of the Amazon tribe in Greek mythology.
Sassi di Matera
The Sassi di Matera are two districts of the Italian city of Matera, Basilicata, well-known for their ancient cave dwellings. The scenes in Wonder Woman where the young Diana is running through the streets of Themyscira is replicated in this Italian city.
The city of Amazons is composed entirely of Greco-Roman architecture from ancient Greece, and the Amazons wear Greek garb, togas, fur cloaks, gladiator-style sandals, and period armour. “Reflecting the openness of Amazonian society, the throne room has no walls or doors and appears to be built into a rock cavity, implying harmony with nature. That harmony extends to the spiral throne,” the film’s director said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. The unique spiral-shaped throne area that is diametrically different to the more masculine throne design—the Iron Throne—that we see in HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Villa Cimbrone, in Ravello, is a lovely manor and gardens perched in a small town over Amalfi Coast).
This is the first time that we are seeing a DC Universe film based being headlined by a woman superhero—Wonder Woman made an appearance in the 2016 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, directed by Zack Snyder—and the first one of the DC films to be directed by a female director.