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I have had many clients like the Roy family. Their money is discreet; they don’t want everyone to see it. So when I was first contacted by Succession Director and executive producer Mark Mylod, who was looking for locations for two big scenes from season three, my head was full of ideas. There was a big party in central Italy and a visit to a new character’s villa in the north. I channeled the types of people involved in the show. Lady Caroline is an English aristocrat. She would accept shabby chic. She would accept a bad bathroom in a beautiful estate. But the Roy children are Americans. They wouldn’t. They would like everything to be more elegant, more buttoned up.
In less than a month, we were driving through northern Italy in a flood of blackened minivans on a mad scout. We only had five days due to restrictions on UK travelers at the time, and I ended up leaving Milan Malpensa with only 30 minutes to go. One day we left Florence under a scorching spring sun and found ourselves a few hours later in waist-deep snow in the mountains. It was that surreal moment when there was no one in Florence or Rome. I felt a bit like I was under the spell of the Roy family or a similar client. The cities were all ours. I joked that I had emptied them for the show.
It worked. I negotiated our access to the Tuscan domain Villa La Foce. My clients have rented it privately for years and it is one of the most magical places in all of Italy. The gardens and part of the surrounding landscape were designed by an Englishman. For a separate scene, another beautiful property, Cetinal Villa, near Siena, was on Mark’s radar before I arrived. Ironically, one of my last projects before the COVID-19 hit was to host a large-scale, high-end celebration there that lasted until dawn. I encouraged them to move forward with the location. I was flattered but felt immense pressure that the owners of two of the villas said they only opened their doors because I was involved. The fieldwork was a new world for me, and I was blown away by the politeness, respect and appreciation from the team and the cast everywhere we worked.