Top 15 Films to Inspire Your Italy Trip

When I travel somewhere new, I love to watch movies & read books that are inspired by that place…so I can really get a feel for where I’m traveling.  In this post, I’ve curated a collection of the “Top 15 Films to Inspire Your Italy Trip!”  Italy is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful countries in the world, & luckily, it has been captured on film many, many times.  So without further ado, let’s time-travel to Italy via some of the films that have best captured the Italian essence…

Top 15 Films to Inspire Your Italy Trip, Girl Who Travels the World, Roman-Holiday

One of the most delightful films about Italy, set all over the streets of Rome: Roman Holiday, with Audrey Hepburn & Gregory Peck.

Academy Award Winning Films

1. The English Patient ~ This is one of my favorite movies of all-time, & it won a whopping 9 Academy Awards back in 1996.  Set both in the Sahara desert & the Italian countryside, it features some of the most gorgeous cinematography ever captured on film.  It’s a richly layered story, relying on flashbacks to chronicle the life of a dying man (Ralph Fiennes), & his passionate love affair.  Based on a book by Michael Ondaatje.

2. Gladiator ~ One of the best epic films ever made, & winner of 5 Academy Awards, including Best Picture & Best Actor (for Russell Crowe).  The film is not necessarily historically accurate (the lead character, Maximus, was entirely invented), but is a visceral & emotional journey into the heart of Ancient Rome.

3. The Godfather ~ When many think of Italy, the first word that comes to mind is “Mafia.”  And “The Godfather” series is arguably the greatest set of films ever made about the Mafia, with the original film winning 3 Academy Awards.  Plus you’ve got Marlon Brando, Francis Ford Coppola, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, James Caan, Diane Keaton….does it get much better?

4. Life is Beautiful ~ Who can ever forget when Roberto Benigni accepted his Academy Award for “Best Foreign Language Film,” climbing over the seats of fellow actors & directors (including Steven Spielberg!), in a moment of pure, child-like joy??  NO ONE else could possibly have gotten away with that! ~ but it was such a beautiful, triumphant moment for him & for Italy, & it captures much of the essence of what “Life is Beautiful” is about: turning life into a masterpiece.

Classic Italian Films

5. Cinema Paradiso ~ A young boy in Sicily discovers a deep love for movies at his local cinema: Cinema Paradiso.  This film won the Academy Award for “Best Foreign Film” in 1989.

6. Il Postino ~ An Italian classic, about a Chilean poet who moves to Italy; this movie also won an Academy Award!  (It seems that many movies set in Italy win Academy Awards…)

7. La Dolce Vita ~ One of the most famous Italian movies ever made, by legendary Italian director Federico Fellini ~ it follows the journey of a young journalist in Rome, who is looking for the “sweet life.” 

8. Roman Holiday ~ Never was a more delightful movie put on screen!  Audrey Hepburn & Gregory Peck are a joy to watch in this romp through Rome: Hepburn plays a young princess longing for adventure, while Peck plays a journalist looking for the scoop of a lifetime.  PURE FUN!!  If you watch one movie set in Italy: watch this one!

Popular Films Set in Italy

9. Angels and Demons ~ Also a book by Dan Brown (which is impossible to put down!!), the movie features Tom Hanks in the lead role as Professor Robert Langdon.  If you’re headed to Rome, bring this book ~ because it literally takes you on a wild goose chase from Vatican City, to the subterranean depths of Rome, with all kinds of horrific things occurring along the way.  MAJOR page-turner!!

10. The Talented Mr. Ripley ~ I’d forgotten all about this fascinating & disturbing psychological thriller, starring a gorgeous Jude Law (in his prime), Gwyneth Paltrow (as his girlfriend), & Matt Damon, in one of his most twisted roles to date.  The reason to watch this film if you’re traveling to Italy is because it’s beautifully shot all over the country: from Positano to San Remo, to the canals of Venice.

11) Under the Tuscan Sun ~ Frances Mayes is one of the best, & most prolific writers on Italy; she even moved there herself after quitting her “safe” job as a teacher back in the States.  This movie is one of my favorites on Italy, as it loosely chronicles the journey of her move to Italy.  Starring Diane Lane, this is a feel-good, makes-you-want-to-move-to-Italy (or at least have an Italian love affair ; ) kind of movie.

Romantic Italian Films

Finishing off my favorite Italian films, here are three romantic classics set in Italy: 12) Enchanted April, about four British women who travel to Italy on holiday; 13) Room With a View, based on the novel by E.M. Forster, about a young, English woman who, after living in repressed Edwardian England, falls in love with a free-spirited young man in Italy (the movie also won 3 Academy Awards, including “Best Picture”); & 14) Stealing Beauty, starring Liv Tyler in a coming-of-age story, shot entirely in Tuscany.

Top 15 Films to Inspire Your Italy Trip

That rounds out my collection of the “Top 15 Films to Inspire Your Italy Trip!”  What are your absolute favorites? 

Viva Italia!

xoxo Noelia

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Top 15 Films Set in Italy, Girl Who Travels the World