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The Princess Diaries 2: Is Genovia A Real Place?

Genovia is where the heart is. 

Oh, how audiences fondly remember their first trip to Genovia. Back in 2001, Disney recruited "Pretty Woman" director Garry Marshall for a big-screen adaptation of "The Princess Diaries." Based on Meg Cabot's novel of the same name, "The Princess Diaries" has emerged as a cultural fixture for those who grew up in the early 2000s. It presented a picture-perfect scenario, one that enthralled its young viewers. In the film, the mild-mannered and shy Mia Thermopolis — played by future Oscar-winner Anne Hathaway in her first major role — discovers that she's the heir to the throne of Genovia. With the help of her grandmother, Queen Renaldi (Julie Andrews), she learns the ins and outs of royal shenanigans and discovers herself along the way. 

With the 2004 sequel "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement," audiences finally see the beautiful kingdom of Genovia, where Princess Mia and Queen Renaldi spend much of their time. With so much of the sequel focused on the royal happenings of Genovia, audiences get to see several different parts of the kingdom, from its posh ballrooms to its local, bustling streets. But is Genovia a real place, and can audiences visit the country? Unfortunately, Genovia is a fictional country, but its aesthetic is rooted in real-life places. Marshall previously confirmed that the country is "probably somewhere between Spain and Italy." 

Surprisingly, "The Princess Diaries 2" wasn't shot in Europe. The sequel was shot in Southern California, with key portions of the film shot at Disney's very own Golden Oak Ranch. 

Genovia is based on a real country

As sad as it is to digest, you won't be able to visit Genovia on your next backpacking trip through Europe. While speaking with Phase 9 Entertainment to promote "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement," director Garry Marshall jokingly said, "Genovia is a country that looks like a studio back lot." Anne Hathaway added that the fictional country is really just "between CGI and Burbank."

In the sequel, Genovia has a real classical European vibe going on, from large castles and estates to sprawling gardens. In a 2015 chat with The Guardian, "Princess Diaries" author Meg Cabot discussed how her fictional country was influenced by one of Europe's most wealthy destinations. "Genovia is actually based a bit on Monaco, the tiny European principality tucked between France and Italy!" Cabot said. "Like Genovia, Monaco has beautiful weather, low taxes, and a slightly naughty royal family. And like Genovia, very few people have ever heard of it!" 

But creating Genovia for the big screen was a group effort. When it came time to add character to Genovia, Marshall consulted with Julie Andrews to get a feel for what the country was known for. "Well, Garry said to me, 'We're inventing this wonderful country: Genovia. Where is it? What are they famous for?'" Andrews recounted in an interview with Hollywood Teen TV. After pondering, the British actress suggested that Genovia would be famous for making lace (a fabric) and having delicious pears. "Of course, the next thing I knew, the set was just ... dotted with fake pears and pear statues, and lace mats ... Give Garry an inch, and he'll just run with it and take it all away," Andrews said. 

Will audiences revisit Genovia?

Audiences have been patiently waiting to return to Genovia since 2004, which is when "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement" danced its way into cinemas. Since then, Anne Hathaway has become a contemporary silver screen icon, and Julie Andrews has continued her supremacy as one of the most prolific actors of all time. Talks of a hypothetical "The Princess Diaries 3" have been happening for years, but nothing has manifested.

Franchise steward Garry Marshall died in 2016, but that hasn't stopped Disney from wanting to give Genovia a third act. The Hollywood Reporter suggested in late 2022 that work on a threequel had begun, with Aadrita Mukerji responsible for the script. But just a month after that report, Julie Andrews told Access Hollywood that a return to Genovia was unlikely. "I think we know that it's probably not going to be possible," Andrews, 87 at the time, admitted. "And I am that much older, and Annie the princess, our queen, is so much older. And I am not sure whether it would float or run," Andrews added. 

While Hathaway has always expressed interest in returning to the role, things just haven't worked out. But this is Hollywood, and things could change at any moment. Just over two decades old, "The Princess Diaries" series continues to have a beloved spot in the pantheon of Disney films, and it'll be interesting to see if the studio can somehow rope Andrews, Hathaway, and the rest of the beloved cast for a final farewell to the pear-filled land of Genovia.