Disney+ to Make Sicily-Set Series by ‘Perfect Strangers’ Director Paolo Genovese

Disney+ has commissioned a still-untitled TV series on Sicily’s Florio family who during the 19th century built an economic empire on the island and became known as the merchant princes of Europe.

Casting is underway in Rome and Palermo, the Sicilian capital, on this high-end period epic to be directed by Italy’s Paolo Genovese whose hit dramedy “Perfect Strangers” has spawned countless remakes around the the world, including an Arab-language adaptation for Netflix.

The Sicilian skein, which according to sources is expected to start shooting in July, is based on local bestseller “The Lions of Sicily,” by Stefania Auci, which has sold more than 500,000 copies in Italy and been translated in 30 languages.

News that Genovese is directing this Disney+ Italian original has been reported in the Italian press and confirmed by multiple sources.

The show, which marks the most high-end Disney+ Italian original to date, is being executive produced by Rome-based Lotus Productions — a unit of Leone Film Group. 

Both Leone in Rome and Disney in London declined to comment.

The Florio’s, who moved to Sicily from Calabria following an earthquake in the late 19th century that had left them penniless, gradually built an empire on the island over the following two decades, becoming a dynasty of shipowners, winemakers, and tuna merchants but also creators of the Targa Florio, the world’s oldest endurance car race. They have been called the uncrowned kings of Sicily.

Auci’s book, which is is packed with patrician intrigue, dark secrets, loves, betrayals and cruel acts of revenge, is been described as a Sicilian “Downton Abbey” in Italy’s publishing and production circles.

Earlier this month Disney+ launched its first Italian original series “The Ignorant Angels,” a romantic drama spun-off from hit local pic “Le Fate Ignoranti” directed by Turkish-Italian director Ferzan Ozpetek who has also helmed the skein.

Other Disney+ Italian originals currently in production are “Boris,” a show-within-a-show format that has already generated three seasons and a movie, and “The Good Mothers,” in which the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta mob is seen entirely from women’s perspectives, written by BAFTA-winning Stephen Butchard (“Baghdad Central”), and based on a book by Foreign Press Association award-winning journalist Alex Perry.

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