By Laura Bly
First published in USA Today, November 2008
Forget shaken martinis and smoldering sidekicks. If you really want to make like James Bond, you'll need a passport and an appetite for high-octane locales. The new movie Quantum of Solace was shot in more overseas backdrops than any other film in the franchise's 46-year history. A 007 fan's guide to key locations:
» London. Bond's creator, writer Ian Fleming, was born in Mayfair in 1908, and several Quantum scenes were filmed at nearby Pinewood Studios (which doesn't give public tours). Pall Mall's Reform Club, famous as the gentlemen's club where Jules Verne's fictional Phileas Fogg started and ended his race Around the World in 80 Days, plays a cameo.
Britain's tourist office suggests Bond-inspired itineraries, and London's Imperial War Museum hosts a "For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond" exhibit through February.
» Italy. The movie opens with a signature car chase that begins at northern Italy's Lake Garda, shifts to the 2,000-year-old marble quarry at Carrara and ends at the medieval Tuscan town of Siena. There, Daniel Craig's Bond scampers across tile rooftops, and horses thunder through the Piazza del Campo during the city's famous bareback horse race, the Palio.
The four-bedroom Villa La Guardia (BRV GUA) on Tuscany's southern Maremma coast, doubles as a CIA agent's digs in the film and rents for $10,472 a week through March 27. Siena's centuries-old Palio is held every July 2 and Aug. 16.
» Austria. Bond takes in a performance of Tosca— and chases a villain across a floating stage — at the futuristic Bregenz Festival House on the alpine shores of Lake Constance. Next summer's festival features Verdi's Aida and runs July 22 to Aug. 23; tickets start at about $36 per person if booked online.
» Chile. In reel life, Bond confronts bad guy Dominic Greene in a Bolivian ecohotel that's destroyed by a series of spectacular explosions. In real life, filming took place in Chile's Atacama Desert, where Greene's hangout is part of the Cerro Paranal Observatory . Free tours are offered the last two weekends of every month except December, but accommodations are restricted to visiting scientists.
Explora's recently renovated Hotel de Larache offers its own observatory for admiring Atacama's clear night skies. A three-night package, including tours and meals, starts at $1,773 per person, double.
» Panama. Backdrops in and around the Caribbean cruise port of Colo´n and Panama City's Casco Viejo (Old Town) served as stand-ins for Bolivia and Haiti, including the spiffed-up ruin of former dictator Manuel Noriega's haunt, the Old Union Club. Craig chilled out between takes at Panama City's Canal House, a three-bedroom, 19th-century mansion that rents for as little as $155 per night for an individual bedroom or $750 per night for the whole house.
» Mexico. As part of an aerial dogfight sequence, Bond and his feisty partner, Camille, parachute from a vintage DC-3 into the mountains near San Felipe, a fishing outpost in Baja California, Mexico. The laid-back town on the shores of the Sea of Cortez doesn't offer commercial flights (it's about a five-hour drive southeast of San Diego), but still draws some 250,000 North American tourists a year, many of them college spring-breakers or RV snowbirds.
In other Quantum of Solcace tie-ins, travelers who book by Nov. 16 can save 10% on hotel stays and $75 on vacation packages through Orbitz, while Google Earth offers a locations map, photos and "making of" videos.