The final part of Luca Guadagnino’s ‘Desire’ trilogy, Call Me by Your Name captures the passion and romance that inevitably comes with first love. Here’s how the setting of a 1980’s summer in Lombardy, Italy, compliments one of the best films of the year.
Elio (Timothée Chalamet) is spending a summer vacation in a luxurious villa in Italy. His family have all the pretensions of a well-travelled unit, with the parents and their friends engaging in intellectual debates around the dinner table. Elio finds his fun with friends of a similar age, but there are hints that he finds the rigmarole around finding a girl tediously mundane.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlbarg) is an American professor who enlists the help of Oliver (Armie Hammer), an academic keen to work and explore the pleasures of the Crema region. A friendship between Elio and Oliver soon emerges and eventually evolves into a wild and passionate affair. Knowing that their time together will be short, Elio struggles to come to terms with their impending separation, which threatens to ruin his first experience of love.
You might also like: Top 10 Things To Do And See in Lombardy, Italy
The uncontrollable rush of emotions, which we all experience at different stages in our lives, are never belittled as merely ‘young love’. The pangs of lust and yearning that Elio experiences are reflected in the more mature reactions of Oliver –there’s is an equal relationship with the age gap barely getting a mention.
Some commentators have been troubled by the difference in years between the two men, Elio being a 17 year old spending a summer with his parents in Lombardy, while Oliver joins them as a 24-year-old academic. There is an undeniable, and striking, height difference between Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet, but that hardly warrants the negative reaction to the pair on screen.
In real life, Hammer, who starred in The Social Network (2010) and The Lone Ranger (2013), is 10 years older than Timothée Chalamet. Perhaps some critics, including cantankerous actor James Woods, are unable to distinguish between fact and fiction?
Director Guadagnino moved the film from 1988 (the year in which André Aciman’s novel is set) to 1983, saying that the transition to the earlier time period would avoid his characters being too sullied by the eighties. The location is described as ‘somewhere in Northern Italy’ but for anyone who is familiar with the area, its undeniably Lombardy.
Both the time and place play a crucial part in the plot. A romance between male characters could be pitched as a ‘fight against the odds’ or a ‘journey to overcome moral outrage’, but there isn’t even a hint of either of those themes. This part of Italy seems particularly care-free. The young characters have casual sex with one another, drinking and smoking the summer away. Elio isn’t wrestling with his own sexuality either. His pursuit of carnal pleasures with a local girl aren’t a front, and he appears to be happy lusting after males and females. Moreover, later on, the same girl he rejects in favour of Oliver offers a hand of friendship despite being heartbroken, again showing that the universal theme here is love… regardless of age, gender or religion (both Oliver and Elio are Jewish).
The beautiful lakes in Northern Italy also play an important part in the film. The professional work that Elio and Oliver are assisting with involves long drives to the secluded waterfronts. The characters also escape on daytime jaunts into the centre of town and beyond. The cafe lifestyle – one we often see depicted to showcase a ‘continental’ way of living – is given real depth here. It’s more than just a lazy shorthand to show that we are in Europe, we get a sense that the laid-back afternoons open up a world of possibilities for the young and carefree.
You might also like: The 10 Best Hotels In Lombardy
Food and music also play a significant role. Elio riffs various pieces on his piano and we regularly see him break into impromptu dances to show his state of mind. The synth-heavy hit Love My Way by English band The Psychedelic Furs is used as a bridge between the two men and they share a tender moment on one of their last nights together enjoying the song.
The dining table experience, where we previously saw Elio’s parents engage in heated debate with friends, also becomes a motif. Awkward breakfasts, drink-fuelled suppers and the sight of Elio impatiently waiting for Oliver to arrive back home for evening meals move the plot along at a surprisingly quick pace.
Then there’s the already infamous peach scene. You’ve probably never seen a piece of fruit used in such away, but as with everything else in this film, even this otherwise outlandish moment feels like it is necessary. Managing to put a heartfelt denouement to this particular moment, we get to see just how well the characters are drawn out, how much the actors care about the situation and how well the director understands the material.
Arguably the most effective scene actually plays out over the end credits. We get to see the effect of all of this intense drama on Elio, but you’ll have to see the film to find out how it all ends… and you won’t regret it for a second.
Call Me by Your Name is on general release now.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.