The Italian castle scenes were filmed at Castello Brown in Portofino, Italy, the very castle where Elizabeth von Arnim stayed in the 1920s while writing the novel of the same title, which the film is based on.
When she was cast as Mrs Fisher, Joan Plowright said that about twenty years earlier she and Maggie Smith had planned an adaption of the same novel in which they would play the parts of Lottie and Rose.
After filming wrapped, the cast and crew later remarked upon a number of supernatural experiences while filming on location in Italy. Alfred Molina reportedly felt an ice-cold hand grasp the back of his neck on a night-shoot, while Miranda Richardson felt her knee-high dress being aggressively yanked to the floor while waiting to film in an old castle. There were also several instances of crew-members having to leave the set after suddenly feeling unwell.
There was no road leading up to Castello Brown, the Italian filming location for the castle. Cast and crew had to walk a mile up the hill every day in the morning, and then down again in the evening. All equipment and furnishings for the castle had to be carried up the hill. There was one elevator in the rock up to a neighboring house, but Joan Plowright was the only member of the cast allowed to use it.
Alfred Molina was the only member of the cast and crew who could speak Italian and communicate with the Italian actors and locals during the shoot in Italy. He ended up acting as general interpreter for the production.
Miramax, then a relatively small and new company, used the proceeds from the surprise success of the distribution of this film to produce Neil Jordan's The Crying Game (1992), which became another big success for them.
World War I looms large in this story set in the early 1920s. Everyone seems to assume that Mrs. Arbuthnot and Mrs. Wilkins are war widows since they travel to Italy alone. Lady Caroline's life is adrift because she lost her beau in the war. Mr. Briggs' bad eyesight is due to mustard gas used by the Germans during the war.
When Mellersh Wilkins is warned by local workmen about the boiler, but ignores them with disastrous consequences, he protests, 'I didn't know "pericoloso" meant "explosion"!' 'Pericoloso' is in fact Italian for 'dangerous'.