“Luca”: A Pixar Journey Through Italian Heritage

Did you know there’s a Pixar animated film set in the places where your ancestors once lived? It’s called Luca, a feature film that premiered exactly three years ago, transporting us to the picturesque post-war Italy.

The story unfolds in a quaint fishing village on the Ligurian Riviera, inspired by the stunning Cinque Terre. The protagonist is Luca Paguro, a 13-year-old sea monster living in the Ligurian Sea, specifically in Portorosso. Fascinated by the human world, Luca meets Alberto Scorfano, another sea monster who lives on land. Together, they explore the village while hiding their true identities.

The themes of “Luca” are courage, discovery, and friendship. Through their adventures, the film delivers a powerful message about exploring new horizons and accepting differences. Their story mirrors that of many Italian immigrants who left their homeland in search of new opportunities, facing challenges and forging new friendships along the way.

The film’s director, Enrico Casarosa, is originally from Genoa. Moving to New York at the age of 20, he brought a piece of his homeland with him, integrating it into his work. Casarosa infused “Luca” with his love for Italy, drawing from memories of summers spent on the Riviera. His talent and passion for storytelling have resulted in a work that celebrates Italian beauty and culture.

The village of Portorosso is a mosaic of the most beautiful parts of the Cinque Terre, with a strong resemblance to Vernazza. The square of Portorosso, its steep alleys, and staircases evoke the charm of Vernazza. Giulia’s house, a girl Luca and Alberto meet, is inspired by a building in Riomaggiore. Monterosso, the inspiring landscape of Tellaro, the colorful mosaic of seaside buildings in Porto Venere, and the harmony of Manarola perched on the hillside, as well as Corniglia, all contribute to the film’s enchanting setting. Food also plays an important role: Giulia’s father prepares the traditional trenette al pesto, a Ligurian dish.

“Luca” is not just a children’s film, but a celebration of Italian culture and the shared experiences of Italian communities worldwide. It is an opportunity to relive the stories of their ancestors, explore the beauty of Liguria, and feel proud of their roots. “Luca” brings to life an ancient Liguria, filled with village friends and big dreams, with a piece of our history behind every scene. It’s an unforgettable summer filled with gelato, pasta, and scooter rides.

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