Daniel Craig was in Siena, Italy on Thursday to witness the filming of the Palio horse race which will feature in the 22nd James Bond film...

Bond 22 Pre-Production Diary (6)
17th August 2007

As MI6 reported earlier in the week, a small production team headed to the Tuscan village of Siena, Italy on Thursday 16th August 2007 to film some background shots that will feature in the 22nd James Bond film. Daniel Craig was also in attendance, although he merely observed and did not feature in the filming in any way.

Above: Daniel Craig watches the action from the Palace Of Elci in a balcony overlooking
the "Madonna dell'Assunta Palio di Siena" horse race which pitches 10 neighborhoods
against each other.

As the Palio di Siena horse race is only ran twice a year, cameras traveled to Italy to capture the action ahead of principal photography, which is scheduled to start in December. 14 cameras were placed at strategic positions around the arena but helicopters were banned.

The Palio race will reportedly serve as the backdrop to key action scenes in the movie, where 007 will chase the villain through steep and narrow cobbled streets and across the rooftops on foot, after negotiating Siena's narrow underground alleys and medieval aqueducts in his Aston Martin. One of the chase locations will be the 'bottini', a network of tunnels that run under the city and cannot be visited by the public without permission. The production team reportedly visited these locations to collect the necessary information to reconstruct the tunnels and alleys at Pinewood Studios. The town council have also given permission for the production team to return between January to July 2008 to complete location shots involving the cast.

The filming agreement includes a restriction to not show any violence involving people or animals during the race, and to treat the event with "full respect". Maurizio Cenni, the mayor of Siena, said Mr Craig and the Bond film crew were "very welcome", but the Palio did not need any extra publicity. "We have imposed extremely rigid restrictions on the production" he said. "This will allow us to check the contents and editing afterward, intervening if necessary."

Above: Craig traveled with girlfriend Satsuki Mitchell to the filming.

Animal rights activists had complained about the use of the event in Bond 22, claiming it may glamorize the race which has caused 50 horses to be killed or put down since 1970. But to the relief of the Siena authorities, the huge crowd and - presumably - the film producers, all horses and jockeys survived the dangerous bareback race. The Times reports that several jockeys were unseated as horses crashed into the wall at the notoriously tight San Martino bend, falling beneath the pounding hooves of their rivals. Miraculously none was hurt. For the record the Palio was won by the Leocorno (Unicorn) contrada, with Jonathan Bartoletti riding a ten year old bay called Brento.

Bond 22 is shaping up to be a European adventure, as MI6 reported last month that location shooting could also take in an impressive Opera set in Austria and a ski sequence. The majority of filming will take place at Pinewood Studios in the UK.