'My Brilliant Friend' Is Set in Naples' Il Rione, But That's Not Where the HBO Series Films
Our favorite Italian show, My Brilliant Friend, is set to return to HBO on March 16 for Season 2, with another eight-episode run that will revolve around the second book in Elena Ferrante's Neopolitan Novels series: The Story of a New Name.
Season 2 of My Brilliant Friend: The Story of a New Name follows Elena and Lila through their adolescences, tracing the years in which the girls come into their own as women, and set out on completely different paths in life.
In addition to Lenu, Lila, and the many characters that make up their families and friends, no other entity is as important to the story than Naples itself. In fact, the ancient coastal city is itself practically a character of its own, as it goes through changes that reflect what the girls are going through.
But where is the unnamed "neighborhood" where My Brilliant Friend is filmed? Keep reading!
'The Neapolitan Novels' are set in the Naples quarter of Il Rione.
The neighborhood where the girls live grows at the same pace as they do: Street vendors are replaced by storefronts as the years pass, and new apartment buildings are built to outshine the old Fascist-era housing blocks.
Lenu and Lila grow up in a working-class Neopolitan neighborhood that's never named in the novels, but based on its many descriptions, it seems to be Naples' Rione Luzzatti neighborhood. Il Rione is a poor and gray quarter east of the city center, made up of austere tenement housing blocks.
The neighborhood has all the familiar locations from Ferrante's books—from Lo Stradone, La Sacra Famiglia church, and the Andreoli Public Library. The area even has the tunnel that Lenu and Lila pass through during a childhood adventure to the ocean that ends in disappointment, which fans surely remember from Season 1.
Where is the HBO series filmed?
While Il Rione is certainly the inspiration for the design and feel of Lenu and Lila's childhood neighborhood, none of the show is filmed there.
While the city of Naples plays a significant part in their story, My Brilliant Friend is actually almost entirely shot on a closed set in the city of Caserta. A 45-minute drive out of Naples, the set is an old, unused glass factory that has been transformed into Il Rione, complete with the stark apartment building complexes.
The Caserta set happens to be one of the largest sets in all of Europe, spread over a total of two hectares—or, in American terms, almost four entire football fields! Set designers spent four months making the 14 buildings that comprise the neighborhood, as well as the church and home interiors, and they took careful care to make sure the building facades matched all the architecture of the time during which the novels take place.
Is any of 'My Brilliant Friend' filmed on location?
While most of the shooting takes place on the set in Caserta, many of the exterior shots are filmed on location in Naples itself. Additionally, in Season 2's The Story of a New Name, Lenu spends a formative summer on the small island village of Ischia Ponte.
In the show, this party of the story will take up two whole episodes—both of which were shot on location in Ischia. Filming there required 180 extras in costumes of the period, as well as the rebuilding of the facades of bars, storefronts and even pier lights to better resemble those from the 1950s.
Don't miss My Brilliant Friend: The Story of a New Name, Mondays at 10 p.m on HBO.