Between August and September 1957, Mario Monicelli filmed most of the exterior scenes of Il medico e lo stregone in three locations in the Tuscia area: San Martino al Cimino, Valentano and Grotte Santo Stefano.
The director, who also filmed some sequences of Totò e Carolina (1954) in Viterbo’s old hospital and chose the Tuscia area again in the following years for the shooting of L’armata Brancaleone (1966) and Speriamo che sia femmina (1986), stated: «We filmed “Il medico e lo Stregone” in San Martino al Cimino because I know the village very well. My parents used to take me here on holidays in the 1920s when I was a kid».
In the movie, San Martino al Cimino becomes Pianetta, an imaginary village in the South of Italy that becomes the stage for the conflict between Science and Superstition, respectively embodied by the young doctor Francesco Marchetti (interpreted by Marcello Mastroianni) and the old healer don Antonio Locoratolo (interpreted by Vittorio De Sica).
Underrated by the critics at the time of its release, Il medico e lo stregone (1957) is a very interesting film as it marks the passage from the so-called “pink neorealism” to the famous commedia all’italiana (Italian satirical film comedies made in the 1960s): a new genre started by Monicelli himself with his I soliti ignoti released in 1958, just one year after Il medico e lo stregone.
An important location in San Martino al Cimino – besides the village itself – is its stunning Abbey. Ettore Scola used it as a backdrop for a famous sequence in his historical comedy Il mondo nuovo (1982).
The Abbey can also be recognized in a sequence of the drama movie Marciando nel buio (1995) directed by Massimo Spano and in one of the first scenes of the Christmas blockbuster Vacanze di Natale ’95 (1995) directed by Neri Parenti.