“Italy will never be a normal country. Because Italy is Italy. If we were a normal country, we wouldn’t have Rome. We wouldn’t have Florence. We wouldn’t have the marvel that is Venice.” – Matteo Renzi
Who doesn’t love Italy ? Or at least, parts of it, may it be Italian cuisine, or centuries old history, art and architecture. From the rolling hills of Tuscany to the pristine coastal towns in Southern Italy, past the Eternal City… Truth be told, Italy is a dream for most travelers. And for us included.
Whether you’ve already been to Italy or plan to visit someday, here are 25 movies and TV shows set in Italy to make you want to explore Bella Italia.
THE TOURIST (2010)
Recommended by Kerstin from Travel with Mei and Kerstin
Last December, Mei organized a surprise trip to Venice for me. About a month before we flew to Italy, we watched The Tourist, starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. Of course, I didn’t know that we were going to visit Venice while we watched this romantic thriller film. But when I saw the stunning views of the City of Canals in the movie, I told Mei that we really needed to explore Venice someday… Little did I know that our boarding passes were already waiting for us on my wife’s laptop.
Released in 2010, The Tourist was directed by Florian Graf Henckel von Donnersmarsk, who stated that his movie is a “travel romance with thriller elements”. Personnally, I think that this description is quite accurate. The story starts with a British woman called Elise – an elegant and charming woman (do I need to specify that we’re talking about Angelina Jolie?), sipping coffee at a Parisian cafe.
Hunted by Scotland Yard, Elise’s husband underwent plastic surgery to change his face. He instructed Elise to catch a train to Venice, where he was going to meet her. Since Scotland Yard didn’t know his new face, Elise should choose a random man on the train and make the police believe that this man was her husband. The man Elise selected as a decoy on the train is an American mathematician teacher, played by Johnny Depp…
The Tourist received a quite negative reception from the critics. According to The Guardian, the movie could have been 15 times shorter, “if you cut out all the scenes where Jolie and Depp gaze at each other in total dead-eyed silence”. Now, I’m not the kind of person who is into romantic Hollywood blockbusters. But I do like watching comedies after a long day at work. And I also appreciate the “who’s who game” in movies, as well as spectacular sceneries, which give me wanderlust. And The Tourist, which is by the way a remake of the 2005 French movie Anthony Zimmer, gives me all that.
LA VITA È BELLA (1997)
Recommended by Lara from Both Feet On The Road
In English this movie is also known as Life Is Beautiful. But originally, La Vita È Bella is an Italian movie about a Jewish Italian family during World War Two. I’m not always in a mood to watch movies about the war, because I can’t always deal with heavy, drama movies. But one of the reasons why I like La Vita È Bella so much, is because it’s a comedy/drama movie. It is still a heartbreaking movie. But because it also involves humor it is not as sad as many other war movies.
The movie starts in Arezzo (Tuscany), where a happy Jewish Italian family of three lives. But when WWII breaks out, they are taken to a concentration camp. The father tries to protect his son from the horrible truth and decides to make up a story. He tells his son they are playing a big, complicated game, in which he can earn or lose points. A series of events happen during their time in the concentration camp. But his father remains positive and keeps hiding his son from the terrible truth until the very end. It’s a story that shows the love of a father for his son, and how far that can go.
The original language of the movie is Italian, but some German and English is spoken too. La Vita È Bella can be watched on Apple TV or Netflix.
TO ROME WITH LOVE (2012)
Recommended by Claudia from My Adventures Across The World
Released in 2012, To Rome With Love is one of Woody Allen’s latest movies, which was entirely filmed in Rome. In proper Allen style, the movie tells the stories of a number of characters in a trip that is a mix of nostalgia, bitterness and hope for the future. Among them, there’s a couple on their honeymoon. And an architect who travels back to Rome to visit the neighborhood where he used to live.
The episode that most represents contemporary times is the one that sees Italian actor Roberto Benigni (winner of 1999 Academy Award for the movie Life Is Beautiful) going from being completely unknown to being a celebrity in a matter of a day. And for no real reason. He simply wakes up to discover he’s become famous. And that whatever he does, he’s followed around by paparazzi watching and photographing his every move. The whole point of the story is that this man has no talent to himself. He truly does nothing to deserve becoming a celebrity. Yet he does, like many others in our time.
Needless to say, Allen’s sense of humor is ever present in the movie, which is a great homage to Rome. A city that at the same time appears magical, quaint, chaotic and incredibly beautiful. The movie is in English and can be watched on Netflix and Infinity TV.
IL POSTINO (1994)
Recommended by Emily from Wander-Lush
Il Postino (The Postman) is a cult-classic Italian language film that was released in 1994. It’s set on Salina, one of the seven Aeolian Islands located off the coast of northwestern Sicily.
The comedy-drama tells the fictional story of real-life Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. Neruda is exiled to the island for his political dissidence. An outsider transplanted into a small, tight-knit community, he meets a local fisherman, Mario, and hires him to deliver his fan mail (hence The Postman is born). The two become close friends, and Pablo teaches Mario the art of poetry, which he uses to woo a local woman.
Tragically, Massimo Troisi, co-writer and star of the film, died the day after filming finished. For this reason, the movie rose to cult status in Italy as his final on-screen appearance. Even if you aren’t familiar with Troisi’s work, this is still a great movie for any Italophile. It explores the ups and downs of life in a small Sicilian town, with all gossip and scandals. While instantly transporting you to one of the country’s most charming epochs, when people still got around the cobbled streets on donkeys. The spectacular scenery of the volcanic island is the perfect backdrop for a love story.
If you ever visit Salina, you can see a few of the original locations from the movie. This includes the fisherman’s caves in Pollara that were reconstructed for the film. It’s the best place on the entire island to watch the sunset. Il Postino can be watched on iTunes.
DA VINCI’S DEMONS (TV series 2013-2016)
Recommended by Ashley from My Wanderlusty Life
One of my favorite TV shows set in Italy is Da Vinci’s Demons, a historical fantasy centering around Leonardo da Vinci’s early life in Renaissance Florence. While much of the series follows da Vinci and his quest for knowledge, greatness, and invention, the show greatly focuses on Medici politics and da Vinci’s role in it all. You wouldn’t be wrong to call this the Game of Thrones of Renaissance Florence.
Though a healthy amount of artistic license was taken in telling this story, much of the series is pretty historically accurate. Watching Da Vinci’s Demons is a great way to learn about what went down in Florence with the ruling family, the Catholic church, and of course, one of history’s greatest creators. Beautiful characters, enchanting scenery, and captivating historical drama make Da Vinci’s Demons a must-watch.
GOMORRAH (TV series, 2014-today)
Recommended by Cath from Travel Around Ireland
One of the best TV dramas based in Italy is Gomorrah, which was created in 2014 and currently has four seasons. It tells the story of an Italian crime syndicate in Naples lead by Pietro Savastano. And it follows the lives of those involved in the organization.
It was adapted by Roberto Saviano for TV from his book of the same name, and is an Italian-language series with English subtitles. It was originally shown on Sky Atlantic and some series are available to watch on Netflix.
The story is told from the perspective of a high-ranking member of the Savastano crime syndicate, Ciro Di Marzio. It follows his story and that of the Savastano family through their criminal world. Mainly in respect to drugs in the poorer apartment blocks and slum areas of Naples. It is a TV drama that will have you on the edge of your seat to see what happens when Don Pietro is arrested. As well as the development of the relationship between Ciro and Don Pietro’s son Gennaro and the rest of the criminal gang members.
Without wanting to spoil the full plot of the four series, Gomorrah is a gritty, action-packed TV series. With twists and turns that will shock you. At times it is fast-paced, other times it is slower. But sometimes you need that breather. It delves deep into the criminal organisation and the effects it has on families. While it may be in Italian, it is very easy to follow the subtitles. And for those who were fans of the hit TV show Sopranos, this is surely to also be a hit.
ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME (2016)
Recommended by Or from My Path in the World
Set in Tuscany and Rome, All Roads Lead to Rome is a sweet romantic comedy starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Raoul Bova. The film follows Maggie (Parker) and her rebellious teenage daughter Summer, as they travel to a little town in Tuscany where Maggie spent her youth. Upon arrival, she comes across her ex Luca (Bova), and the two are immediately reminded of their great love story.
Summer, on the other hand, is desperate to go back to the US and see her selfish boyfriend. So she joins forces with Luca’s mother, Carmen, who’s trying to get to Rome and secretly marry her youth love. They decide to steal Luca’s car and thus begin two interesting journeys. Summer and Carmen, who are in a hurry to get to Rome. And Maggie and Luca, who are racing behind them.
WHEN IN ROME (2002)
Recommended by Pauline from Bee Loved City
This one is an oldie but a goodie! This 2002 movie features the twins everybody loves, Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen. Back then, each movie was filmed in a different country. It was only normal that they would go to Italy! As the name might suggest, the movie is filmed in the capital, Rome. It features both American and Italian actors.
In When in Rome, the twins Leila and Charli go to Rome for a summer internship. Of course things don’t go quite as planned! Some encounters will change everything and let’s not forget the boys! This teen-movie is perfect if you are planning to go to Italy with your kids. With Leila, you discover the cultural aspect. With Charli, you get to see a more adventurous version of Rome. And most of all, the Italian connection with fashion.
As an adult, it might not be your favourite movie. But it is very entertaining for kids and teenagers. It gives a very good idea of what Rome is like. Coliseum, Campo dei Fiori, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, the Spanish Steps… you catch a glimpse of them all! Perfect to trigger everyone’s wanderlust! When in Rome was initially released on DVD and VHS but you can now find it on Itunes.
Recommended by Jeff from Life Of Y
This Oscar winning movie has to be one of my all time favourites. If you haven’t seen it (where have you been?) it’s the story of a Roman general named Maximus, who is betrayed by the new emperor and sold into slavery as a gladiator. He eventually makes his way to the Colosseum in Rome, where he plots his revenge as he rises up through the ranks.
The movie is brilliantly acted and the action sequences are just incredible. Ridley Scott has masterfully combined an epic story with edge of seat action and a beautiful score. If, like me, you love action movies, history and all things ancient Rome related, then this is a must-watch.
Gladiator is definitely worth watching before any visit to Rome. Even though the film was not filmed there, the stunning CGI re-creation still ran through my mind as I walked around the Colosseum. I’ve been to there twice now and both times I had Russell Crowe shouting “are you not entertained?” in my head!
Recommended by Ming Lee from Flyerism
In a quiet Sicilian town, the 12-year-old boy Renato, as well as many men of the town were smitten by a stunning young woman known as Malena. After her husband was allegedly killed in the war, Renato watched Malena’s life going downward spiral because of her appearance. In the meantime, he was about to learn some very important life lessons about love and humanity.
Malena is the first Italian movie I saw in my life. As a small-town girl from Far East, I was mesmerized by the beautiful landscape of Sicily portrayed in the film. As well, the plots, cinematography, directions and the scores are nothing like the Hollywood blockbusters I used to see on the big screens. Despite the cultural difference and language barrier, this movie would touch your heart and make you very emotional. On a positive note though, the plot ended on great hope.
In the movie, I find that men’s obsession for Malena is absolutely justified. For Monica Bellucci (the lead actress) was such a dazzling and irresistible figure. Many years have passed since I first watch this movie. I have since going places and meeting people. Malena still remains my favorite movie. And she’s the most beautiful character I’ve ever come across. I recommend this film wholeheartedly. You can watch it on Amazon Prime.
CINEMA PARADISO (1989)
Recommended by Dave Chant
Perhaps Guiseppe Tornatore’s best known film in the 21st century is Malena (also in this list). Wet his masterpiece is without a doubt Cinema Paradiso, made in 1988. Known originally in Italian as the Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (The New Paradise Cinema), it tells the story of a successful Italian filmmaker returning to his hometown in Sicily. The director based the film on Bagheria, Sicily. Although the iconic square where they built the Cinema Paradiso for the film is in the village of Palazzo Adriano, 60km south.
This is a story about nostalgia, friendship, and love of cinema. The central story plays both pragmatically and humorously with the friendship between the projectionist Alfredo (Philippe Noiret) and a young boy Salvatore, nicknamed Toto. Salvatore is played in different ages by Salvatore Cascio, Marco Leonardi and Jacques Perri. In fact, Cascio won a BAFTA Best Actor aged 9 for his portrayal of Toto. The film went on to win the Grand Prix prize at Cannes and Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1989. The film is in Italian with English subtitles.
It’s a sentimental dive into the past. And a lyrical journey with beautiful Sicilian locations backed up with a melodic soundtrack from Ennio Morricone (the tracks Toto and Alfredo and self-titled Cinema Paradiso are beautiful). By the end, you’ll need your tissues but you’ll also smile at the ending. And feel a heartfelt optimism for human comradery and the world we live in.
THE YOUNG POPE (TV series 2016 and 2020)
Recommended by Camilla from Tigers in the Wild
Famous Italian director Paolo Sorrentino’s TV series The Young Pope is set in Vatican City, the Catholic church’s headquarters in Rome.
Aesthetically impeccable and with a fantastic soundtrack, the series sees Jude Law starring as Lenny Belardo or Pius XIII. The youngest Pope in history and the first American. Intrigues, manipulation attempts and controversies develop between the new Pope and his entourage between sacred and profane. Against the stunning backdrop of the Eternal City. Jude Law is perfect in the role of the charming, though strict and disruptive Pius XIII. And so are his co-stars Diane Keaton, Silvio Orlando and Cécile de France.
The Young Pope is an eclectic, intellectual, provocative and extremely entertaining take on the Vatican and its illustrious denizens. The series premiered in 2016 with 10 episodes. A second series with the title The New Pope has been released in 2020. The new season sees John Malkovitch in a key role and is equally interesting.
THE TWO POPES (2019)
Recommended by Emma from Travelonatimebudget
I recently watched The Two Popes, an Oscar nominated film, released at the end of November 2019 and available for viewing on Netflix. The film is set largely in the Vatican in Rome, with some scenes depicting the Pope’s summer residence in nearby Castel Gandolfo. There are also some flashback scenes set in Buenos Aires.
The story focuses on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI in 2013, who had been elected by the papal conclave back in 2005. In discussions with the Argentinian Cardinal Bergoglio, who had travelled to tender his resignation to the Pope, Benedict reveals his desire to resign. Despite the fact that the two men have very different (and conflicting) outlooks on life, Benedict persuades Bergoglio to remain in office and stand to be elected as the next Pope.
The film is not only fascinating, but highly entertaining. You learn a lot about papal conclaves and the current and former Pope. And also about some of the historical events in Argentina that led to some personal demons for Bergoglio. The two lead characters – Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce – play the roles perfectly. Combining convincing portrayals (at least to me, as a lay viewer) with large doses of humour thrown in to lighten what could be a dry plot. Indeed, the final scenes portray the two Popes ordering a pizza and sitting down to watch the 2014 World Cup together!
ONLY YOU (1994)
Recommended by Wendy Werneth from The Nomadic Vegan
Only You is an American romantic comedy that was released in 1994 and stars Robert Downey Jr. and Marisa Tomei. Tomei’s character, Faith, has been convinced since her childhood that she is destined to marry a man named Damon Bradley. This was predicted by both a Ouija board and a carnival fortuneteller. But this was actually a prank invented by her brother. But Faith doesn’t know this.
After hearing about a man named Damon Bradley who’s on his way to Italy, she flies there in search of him. In Rome, she meets Robert Downey Jr.’s character, who claims to be Damon, and they fall madly in love. But once he confesses that his real name is Peter Wright, she throws him out of her hotel room in a huff and won’t forgive him. For the rest of the movie, Peter tries to win her back. While Faith tries to convince herself that she’s not in love with him.
I first watched this movie as a teenager. And it made the canals of Venice and the terrace restaurants on the cobbled streets of Rome look hopelessly romantic. When I later moved to Rome in my early 20s, I discovered that Rome was just as magical as it had appeared in the movie. I even met the man who would become my husband in Rome. And we returned there to get married a few years later and had our wedding reception in one of those terrace restaurants. Sometimes the over-the-top love stories in movies really do come true.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (2017)
Recommended by Katalin from Our Life Our Travel
Call me by your name is one of my favourite movies from the last decade. And definitely the most engaging one from Italy I’ve ever seen.
The story takes us to the 1980’s to Bergamo, a small city in Northern Italy, where the American Elio’s family spends the summer vacation in their villa. His dad hosts an archaeology student, Oliver, who works with him on a project. For example, they were collecting fossils at Lake Garda. The main plot of the movie evolved around the developing interest and love between Oliver and Elio. And it’s full of tension about their often unspoken feelings.
I highly recommend it to those who like slower artistic movies and aren’t bothered by an unusual love story of two boys. The original language of this movie is Italian, but English and French were all spoken. You can watch Call me by your name on Amazon, Netflix or Apple TV.
THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY (1999)
Recommended by Lori from Travelinmad
Set in 1950’s against the backdrop of Italy, this spine-chilling thriller is one of my favorites movies filmed in Italy. The story follows underachiever Tom Ripley (played brilliantly by Matt Damon) who’s been hired by the wealthy father of carefree playboy Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law) to bring his son back to America. When a quick friendship between the two begins to fade and Dickie goes missing, Dickie’s girlfriend (Gwyneth Paltrow) and best friend (Philip Seymour Hoffman) begin piecing together the web of intrigue and lies perpetrated by Tom Ripley.
It’s easy to fall in love with The Talented Mr. Ripley – the movie, not necessarily the man. The Italian landscapes behind every scene are dreamy. And the movie features locations around northern and southern Italy. The island of Ischia was the setting for the seaside apartment Dickie shares with his girlfriend Marge. And Naples, the Amalfi Coast, and Venice were all highlighted in gorgeous cinematic light. But some of my favorite scenes were shot in Rome as the tension mounts and Tom’s alibi begins to unravel.
If you love a good Hitchcockian thriller and are dying to cross a few things off your Italy or Rome bucket list, this movie is some great inspiration!
LOVE WEDDING REPEAT (2020)
Recommended by Stephanie from History Fan Girl
Netflix’s new movie Love Wedding Repeat stars Olivia Munn and Sam Clafin. And it’s part romantic comedy, part magical realist fantasy which takes place in Rome.
The central conflict is around an English bride (Clafin’s sister) marrying into an Italian family. There’s also an English actor desperately trying to impress an Italian filmmaker. A jealous ex-boyfriend, and a vindictive ex-girlfriend and her new fiancé (who’s very concerned about how he stacks up). The main love story is between the two leads. They met in Rome a few years earlier and missed their moment, getting interrupted right as they were about to share a kiss. Now it’s time to see if Clafin can reignite what they had before. While also trying to save his sister’s wedding.
The movie plays with timelines and fate by having multiple versions of the day play out. Which version will be the final one? Love Wedding Repeat is lighthearted and fun, making it the perfect thing to watch when you’re looking for a bit of an escape.
INSPECTOR MONTALBANO (TV series 1999-today)
Recommended by Annabel from Smudget Postcard
Inspector Montalbano is a Sicilian detective drama series set in the fictional town of Vigàta. Based on the books by Andrea Camilleri, it follows the life of Sicilian police detective Salvo Montalbano as he solves a new case each episode. It’s very satisfying if you like your murder mysteries wrapped up in a convenient hour’s viewing. It’s also very pleasant to watch this genre in a constantly sunny setting. The characters are typically Italian, very authentic and animated.
Many of the episodes weave very topical material into the storyline, covering the migrant crisis as well as political issues affecting Italy. Much of the series is filmed in southeast Sicily around Ragusa, Scicli and Modica. This is a really beautiful part of the island, full of elegant Baroque architecture and long sandy beaches as well as more modest districts. Once you’ve been transported to this fascinating island by Montalbano, you’ll no doubt want to take a road trip through south east Sicily to see it for yourself.
ROMAN HOLIDAY (1953)
Recommended by Elisa from World in Paris
Roman Holiday (USA, 1953) is a timeless, romantic comedy by two of my favorite actors of the ’50s: Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. Set in Rome in Italy, Roman Holiday makes you travel virtually to the prettiest places of the Eternal City like Trastevere, the Roman Forums, or the famous Bocca de la Verita’.
Roman Holiday tells the story of Ann, a princess from an unknown state in Europe, who lives in a golden cage without not much contact with real life. During a state visit to Rome, she escapes her residence and pretty scheduled life to explore the city on her own, in incognito mode.
Whilst everybody is looking for Ann, she meets Joe Bradley, a cheeky American journalist working in Rome. Joe makes her discover Rome on a Vespa and have fun. When he discovers by chance that the anonymous young lady is a crown princess, he tries to find the way to get an exclusive interview of her to sell it at the best price.
THE ITALIAN JOB (2003)
Recommended by Christina from Travel2Next
Charlize Theron, Edward Norton and Donald Sutherland star in the 2003 action thriller that is centred around a team that pulls off a bank heist in Venice. Although the movie showcases some of the landmarks in this Italian city, it’s more an edge-of-your-seat action movie rather than a panoramic cinematic show. Led by professional safecracker, John Bridger, the team executed a plan to steal $35 million worth of gold bullion from Italian gangsters. Although the heist was successful, the getaway did not go without a hitch. The inside man, Steve, did an inside job on the rest of the team and stole the bullion from them as they made their escape.
One year later, in the USA, the team that was swindled gets their revenge. They executed a plan that gets their revenge on Steve by using explosives to blow open his safe. And by getting away with the gold in three modified Mini Coopers.
UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN (2003)
Recommended by Alex from Gourmand Trotter
Under the Tuscan Sun follows writer Frances Mayes from San Francisco and her journey to Tuscany in Italy, which is played by Diane Lane. Her life takes a new turn after she finds out that her husband is cheating on her.
Frances looses her house and becomes depressed. Her best friend recommends her to go to Tuscany in Italy, using her friend’s ticket that she can no longer use due to pregnancy. The movie follows the American writer on her trip to Italy. After a few events, Frances becomes the owner of a Tuscan villa, where she begins her new life in Italy.
It’s a wonderful movie that makes you want to pack your bags and follow her footsteps to beautiful Tuscany. This region is known for its rolling hills and landscapes with endless rows of vineyards. The movie was released in 2003 but continue to inspire travelers still today. And it can be watched on Apple TV or Amazon Prime.
MY BRILLIANT FRIEND (TV series, 2018 and 2020)
Recommended by Katy from Untold Italy
Transport yourself to Naples in the 1950s with the screen adaption of the first of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet novels: My Brilliant Friend. The semi-autobiographical series follows the lives and friendship of Elena and Lila, two intelligent and talented girls growing up on the rough and often violent streets of the outer suburbs of Naples.
Follow the girls’ journeys from childhood to teenagers. Always living with the ominous foreboding of the local crime bosses and their increasingly violent methods. Elena and Lila have a complex relationship based on mutual love and respect. But also competition in all things, but especially their intellect and love interests.
Beautifully shot on location, mainly in Naples, the series gives tantalizing glimpses of the faded grandeur of the southern Italian city often forgotten thanks to its gritty reputation. When the girls visit Ischia for the summer, there are gorgeous scenes of the nearby island, its famous beaches and colourful buildings in the Bay of Naples. The series is shot in Neapolitan dialect (Italian) and is peppered with local insults and endearments.
Watch My Brilliant Friend for the scenes of southern Italy. And the realistic portrayal of the complex and enduring nature of female friendships in all their unpolished glory. The TV series is available on HBO and AppleTV.
ANGELS AND DEMONS (2009)
Recommended by Kate from Our Escape Clause
Angels & Demons is a fun, engaging action movie set in – and much of it filmed in – Rome. It is stuffed full of gorgeous scenes of the city and the Vatican. Designed as a sequel to the popular 2006 film The Da Vinci Code, which was set in Paris, Angels & Demons brings back the fictional character of Professor Robert Langdon. Langdon uses his specialization of symbology to decode another mystery. This one threatening cardinals of the Catholic Church as they convene to choose a new pope.
The movie is fast-paced and interesting to watch. Especially for people who love Rome, featuring plenty of twists, turns, and (often fictional) historical facts along the way.
Onsite filming locations that visitors to Rome will likely recognize include the Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Piazza del Popolo, and Castel Sant’Angelo. Vatican City did not allow filming on locations it owned. So some filming locations, including the interior of St. Peter’s Basilica, were recreated as (extremely impressive) sets. The movie is in English, with Tom Hanks starring as Robert Langdon. And it can currently be viewed on Netflix or Apple TV.
LETTERS TO JULIET (2010)
Recommended by Christine Abroad
Letters to Juliet is a wonderful romantic comedy, starring Amanda Seyfried, Christopher Egan and Gael Garcia Benal. It’s inspired by the book with the same name that was written by Lise Friedman and Ceil Friedman. The movie plot is a young American worker who goes on a pre-honeymoon trip to Italy, namely Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet. Sophie (played by Amanda Seyfried) finds thousands of letters to Juliet in the courtyard of Juliet’s house.
One thing leads to another, and Sophie helps an elderly lady to look for the man she fell in love with 50 years ago. Together, they drove through the scenic countryside of Northern Italy’s Veneto region as well as Tuscany. It’s one of those feel-good vibes movies, in which you can dream away to Italy and picturing yourself strolling around the streets of Verona and Tuscan villages.
Letters to Juliet is available on Netflix and the original language is in English. It was originally released in the United States and has a total length of 105 minutes.
LADRI DI BICICLETTE (1948)
Recommended by Jill from Jetset Journeys
Set in post-war Rome, this heart-breaking story still seems shockingly relevant today. Particularly given the likely global fall-out from the Coronavirus pandemic. Set in Rome, a young family is running out of money and food when the father finally lands a job putting up posters for upcoming films. The only catch? He needs his own transport. And so his wife pawns their last few possessions to buy him one.
On his first day of work, a man steals his bicycle – as the title suggests. Without giving away any spoilers, there’s a reason the title is in the plural. Although oddly switched to singular in the American release. But you’ll have to watch the film to discover why. The police say they can’t help, but suggest he checks out a market where stolen bicycles are often sold. He takes his seven-year-old son with him to the market, which – for various reasons – leads them to other places around Rome, including the football stadium and a brothel.
The son brings charm to the film, while the father brings the despair – a perfect double-act. Multi-award-winning and still lauded as one of the most important and influential films in cinema, it’s also relatively short at just 90 minutes. As it zips you through the streets of post-war Rome, it shows you the city through the eyes of a desperate man. But also its cobbled streets, stone buildings and leafy piazzas appearing just as alluring as at any time in history, but tinged with an air of wistfulness as the father and son descend further into despair.
You can see all of the major settings for the film and how they look now on this fan website. And the movie on Amazon Prime. While the ending isn’t exactly happy, it does somehow feel uplifting. And is ideal to watch on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
If, after watching all these movies and TV shows, you are still craving for Italy, then you might want to read one of these books to feed your wanderlust.
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