The Belpaese has been home to many highly acclaimed films, from ‘Roman Holiday’ to the more recent ‘Call Me By Your Name’.
Be inspired by our guide to the best films set in Italy.
Warning: You may be tempted to purchase plane tickets to Rome or Tuscany after watching them.
‘Roman Holiday’ (1953)
Explore the Eternal City with Audrey Hepburn as she plays a rebellious princess in this classic.
Although set in the 1950s, ‘Roman Holiday’ is still one of the best movies to showcase Rome’s splendour, from the Spanish Steps to the Trevi Fountain.
Hepburn won her only Academy Award for this film, which was her first-ever starring role.
The film was shot at the Cinecittà studios and on location around Rome during the “Hollywood on the Tiber” era, in which myriad American movies were made in Italy’s capital.
‘La Dolce Vita’ (1960)
Starring Swedish-Italian beauty Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni, ‘La Dolce Vita’ is one of the most acclaimed films in the history of Italian cinema.
Directed by Federico Fellini, the film follows the story of a journalist writing for gossip magazines who is on the hunt for love, happiness and “the sweet life” in Rome.
The famous Trevi Fountain scene is one which is known by all, even those who haven’t seen the film in its entirety.
The iconic scene was shot over a week in winter.
Fellini claimed that Ekberg stood in the cold water in her dress for hours without any trouble while Mastroianni had to wear a wetsuit beneath his clothes and “polished off a bottle of vodka” before shooting the scene.
‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ (2003)
Based on Frances Mayes’ 1996 memoir of the same name, ‘Under The Tuscan Sun’ is about a recently divorced writer who spontaneously buys and renovates a rundown villa in Tuscany in order to build a new life.
Starring Diane Lane and Italian heart throb Raoul Bova, this film takes viewers on a magical journey through the Tuscan countryside, the quaint village of Cortona and the majestic cliffs of Positano, on the Amalfi Coast.
‘Eat, Pray, Love’ (2010)
Starring Julia Roberts, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ is a biographical rom-com based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir of the same name.
Newly divorced and at a crossroads, Gilbert embarks on an intercontinental journey of self-discovery.
In her travels, she discovers the true pleasure that food can bring in Italy, the power of prayer in India, and the inner peace and balance of true love in Indonesia.
During her three months in Italy, Gilbert learns some of the local language and discovers traditional dishes that will make any viewer’s mouth water.
The Italian segment of the film was shot in Rome and the southern city of Naples.
‘A Room with a View’ (1985)
Based on E.M. Forster’s 1908 novel of the same name, ‘A Room With A View’ is set in Florence during the Victorian era.
This romantic turn-of-the-century drama showcases the stunning Tuscan countryside and the opulence of Florence during that period.
Though the film was shot extensively on location in Florence, some scenes were filmed in London and around the village of Sevenoaks in Kent.
‘Life Is Beautiful’ (1997)
Italy’s most adored entertainer, Roberto Benigni, plays a Jewish bookkeeper in this Oscar-winning film set during World War II.
Set in the historic centre of Arezzo, this Tuscan masterpiece sees Guido (Benigni) shielding his son from the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp by using his imagination and pretending it’s a game.
Benigni’s wife Nicoletta Braschi stars opposite him in this poignant film about the importance of family and the unconditional love between father and son.
‘Life is Beautiful’ made $48.7 million in Italy, and was the highest grossing Italian film in its native country until 2011, when surpassed by Checco Zalone’s ‘What a Beautiful Day’.
‘Letters to Juliet’ (2010)
A more recent celebration of Italy, ‘Letters to Juliet’ is inspired by the 2006 novel of the same name.
The film starts in the northern Italian city of Verona, home to Juliet’s balcony.
While visiting the famous site, a soon-to-be-married writer named Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) discovers a 50-year-old love letter.
The letter leads her on a quest through the Tuscan countryside, accompanied by a fitting Italian soundtrack.
Though perhaps a little far from realistic, this love story will allow you to run away with your imagination and will be sure to have you reaching for the tissues.
‘Call Me by Your Name’ (2017)
This coming-of-age romantic drama film is directed by Luca Guadagnino and based on the novel of same name.
Set in northern Italy in 1983, this drama follows the blossoming of a romantic relationship between 17-year-old Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) and his professor father’s 24-year-old graduate-student assistant Oliver (Armie Hammer).
This internationally acclaimed film is set in countryside of Crema, in the northern Italian region of Lombardy, where Guadagnino lives.
Scenes are set in the nearby villages Pandino and Moscazzano.
The main location set for the Perlmans’ residence was Villa Albergoni, an uninhabited 17th-century mansion in the latter village.
This captivating film has been lauded for its stunning scenery and its evocative plot.
At its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, it received a standing ovation, while it received a ten-minute ovation at the New York Film Festival, the longest recorded ovation in the festival’s history.
Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, ‘Baarìa’ chronicles life in the Sicilian town of Bagheria (known as Baarìa in Sicilian), from the 1930s to the 1980s, across three generations, from Cicco to his son Peppino to his grandson Pietro.
A tribute to Tornatore’s birthplace, the film was shot in both Bagheria, located just outside Palermo, and in an old neighbourhood of Tunis, Tunisia; the latter location was used because it could better depict what Bagheria looked like in the early 20th century.
The film offers an intimate insight into Sicilian life, touching on some of the island’s many traditions and ancient superstitions.
It exists in two versions: the original, in the local Baariotu dialect of Sicilian and the second, dubbed in Italian.
The scenery showcases the island’s visual beauty, from citrus groves to the famous Villa Palagonia, renowned for the statues of monsters with human faces that decorate its garden and its walls.