As any Italian film commissioner knows, movie producers en route to Italy come armed with ambitious shooting agendas involving the nation's most treasured and ancient locations.

While permits are granted on a site-by-site basis, major locations such as Rome and Venice have dedicated permit offices which are well versed in granting filming permits: Rome alone gave out 2,258 of them in 2006.

Productions to have pushed the boundaries on their Italian shoots include Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr Ripley in which Matt Damon as Tom Ripley brought a sports car to a screeching halt within inches of a priceless Bernini fountain on Rome's Navona square.

Also in Rome, the Ente Tevere - an organisation that oversees the Tiber river - helped Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt create waves on the normally dormant waterway for a motorboat chase in Mission: Impossible III, while water traffic on Venice's Grand Canal was stopped twice for period pictures The Merchant Of Venice and Casanova.

More recently, Hayden Christensen exercised the power of teleportation inside the Colosseum - possibly the jewel in the crown of Italian locations coups - in a scene from Doug Liman's Jumper, due for release next year by Fox.

Alvaro Eliseo, head of Rome's permit office, an annexe of the Rome-Lazio film commission, insists local scouts - available through commissions - are key to navigating the city and overcoming regional and state bureaucracy when gaining access to streets, museums, rivers and archaeological sites.

Such scouts include Erik Paoletti (Ocean's 12, The Nativity Story) and Anne-Louise Dahlgren (who has scouted the Naples area on behalf of Pompeii, which is expected to use some locations in the area).

Italy's most popular locations, Rome and Venice, charge daily fees to film-makers wishing to use their streets (Rome receives $540 per day plus $0.80 per square metre for trucks and equipment; Venice charges $815-$2,175 per day).

But the fees increase when filming at archaeological sites and money shots such as Venice's Rialto Bridge and works of art including Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper, which hangs in Milan.

Eliseo insists shooting at historical sites should not be taken for granted as permits are 'evaluated with the protection of the monuments in mind'.

This means that even if permission is granted, restrictions may apply, as in the case of Jumper where the crew had to harness their gear so nothing touched the surfaces the ancient gladiators fought on 2,000 years ago.