Recreating Vatican City in THE YOUNG POPE

HBO's latest limited series THE YOUNG POPE (though seeing a second season is in development has me questioning the meaning of 'limited') has been great through its first few episodes, bringing the sensibilities of director Paolo Sorrentino (THE GREAT BEAUTY, and goodness if you haven't seen it yet stop right now and do that) to the politicking and chicanery that occurs within the walls of Vatican City. At least in a way that doesn't involve Tom Hanks' Robert Langdon haircut running around the place.

In a series with Templars and religious phenomena, this might be the least credible thing in the whole affair.

In a series with Templars and religious phenomena, this might be the least credible thing in the whole affair.

In a Vulture piece, the show's production designer Ludovica Ferrarrio discusses how the show worked around not being allowed to shoot inside Vatican City, by utilizing locations in surrounding Italian cities:

The many frescoes were achieved by using wallpaper, while the illusion of smooth marble flooring was made possible by printing color on treated plywood. A special gloss, meanwhile, brought meticulous gold plating and gold leaves to life.

Other challenges included replicating the meticulous manicuring of the Vatican's gardens, as well as reproducing locations that are iconic in our collective consciousness, and not even just among the devout. If you have HBO, this is currently the best thing on the whole network, and deserves your time. To close, the opening to the show, which by itself is better than most anything aired on television.

The Young Pope - Opening Credits