Movies have always had a magical way of letting us escape to a different place and time. With Italy’s romantically extensive history, it’s no wonder that Italy holds inspiration for some of the world’s greatest stories. From the bustling city centers of Rome and Florence to the remote Sicilian island of Pantelleria, each film location has its own way of adding romance, drama, and mystery. The following list contains some of our favorite movies set in Italy and its beloved landscapes – be them city, sea or countryside.
A Bigger Splash
“There’s something about this island…” director Luca Guadagnino noted while filming A Bigger Splash. And he’s right. The island of Pantelleria, situated in between Sicily and Tunisia is known as the “black pearl of the Mediterranean”, and makes for the idyllic setting for this mystery of a movie. So what happens when four people come together on the island of Pantelleria? Besides drinking wine and eating fresh ricotta, the island seems to reveal those skeletons that no one even knew they had.
The Talented Mr. Ripley
The Talented Mr. Ripley, directed by the late Anthony Minghella, is set in some of the most alluring destinations in Italy, from Positano to the colorful islands of Ischia and Procida. The film stars Matt Damon as Tom Ripley, hired by a wealthy family to persuade their son (who happens to be in Italy), to return home to run the family business. The scene of Jude Law running around village streets in the classic Italian linen pant, while Gwyneth Paltrow is shopping for prosciutto and figs in a white dress, provides a sense of Italian beauty, to an otherwise chilling tale.
Eat, Pray, Love
Based on the best-selling novel by Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love is a story of a woman who decides to take a leap of faith to search for a new beginning and fulfillment after a painful divorce. The story takes place in three different countries, with each country helping her find inner healing. In Italy, she nourishes her soul with comforting foods (and beauty around every corner). In India, she finds hope and peace in the power of prayer. In Indonesia, she finds love. Eat, Pray, Love is a beautiful reminder of the powers of traveling, and how different cultures can help awaken parts of ourselves.
Under the Tuscan Sun
Based on the novel by Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun will make you want to start researching “Tuscan villas in need of a renovation” immediately. Filmed in the beautiful rolling hills of Cortona (where Mayes resides now), it tells the story of a recently divorced woman who sets off to find a new beginning by purchasing an old Tuscan villa. With old friends and new (and a team of handymen), the movie reminds us that we can have a new start, and rebuild our lives at any time, as long as we remain open minded.
There’s one scene in Only You that will forever play on repeat in my mind. It’s Marissa Tomei running down the never ending steps of Positano in a white silk dress running to meet her date at a seaside restaurant. Filmed in Venice, Rome, and Positano, Only You stars Tomei and Robert Downey Jr., as they travel all over Italy in search for Tomei’s “soulmate”. It’s lighthearted, fun, and will make you believe that true love can be found when you’re running through the streets of Rome, and lose a shoe.
A Room With A View
Written by E.M. Forester, A Room with a View is a somewhat “love” story set in 1900’s Florence and England, between Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter) and George Emerson (Julian Sands). The movie tells the story of English high-society, and the pressures that one faced to marry someone of their own status. The movie explores Lucy’s own inner struggle as she deals with going against the traditional norm, fighting her own feelings, and following her heart.
Franca: Chaos and Creation is a beautiful documentary about Franca Sozzani, the former editor-in-chief at Vogue Italia. The film, directed by her son Francesco, tells the story of Franca’s vision and courage to use the role of the fashion industry to raise awareness about political movements and societal issues. Have a pen and paper handy, because Franca’s words of wisdom and humour give us the light we need to move through our days. She also reminds us that if we want to take risks, we can’t take life so seriously.
All Roads Lead To Rome
In All Roads Lead to Rome, Sarah Jessica Parker plays an uptight writing professor who returns to a Tuscan villa she visited in her younger years. She reconnects with an old flame (classic), and they spend most of the movie driving through the Tuscan countryside, chasing SJP’s rebel daughter and her ex-boyfriend’s mother who have escaped in a Ferrari to Rome. Is the movie full of cliches? Yes. Do I love it? Also, yes. It’s hard not to feel something when you’re watching two ex’s winding through the Tuscan countryside, taking the most beautiful pit stops I’ve ever seen. Also, I’d rewatch it solely for the scene of an old man in a wedding tux, sitting on the steps of a Roman church. Very Vogue.
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