Top 10 Best Films Set In Italy

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While we can’t always jump on a plane and fly to the most beautiful country on earth, we can always do the next best thing – watch a movie that was filmed in Italy! 

This collection of films will take you from Rome to Tuscany, Naples to Venice, The Amalfi Coast to Milan, Lake Como to Turin & Capri.

Our team of Italian experts has created a collection of what we feel are some of the best films ever made in Italy.   

These titles will have you popping a huge bowl of popcorn, opening a bottle of your favorite wine, and racing to the living room for a much-needed escape to Italy.

*To rent, buy or watch any of these films for free on Amazon Prime – click on the titles, photos or links in this article. 

Paramount Pictures

Of all the films on our list, this one, from Holywood’s Golden Age, is the most classic.   

If you love Audry Hepburn, Greggory Peck, Rome, black and white films, royalty, rebelling against authority, fabulous new hair cuts, romance, adventure, gelato, Italian food, Vespa rides, and 1950s Italy – then this is the film for you.

If you’ve never had a chance to watch Roman Holiday, you’re missing out on the Italian adventure of the century!

Columbia Pictures

The Tourist is one of those rare films that combine elegance and romance with suspense and action – there’s even a number of quite humorous moments in this film. 

The unexpected romantic match of Angelina Jolie with Johnny Depp is as successful as it is surprising.  

While there are loads of great actors in this movie, the city of Venice plays such a strong supporting role that it forces one to imagine the floating city in a whole new way.   

The sumptuous Venitian interiors and Angelina’s effortlessly chic wardrobe are reasons enough on their own to watch and re-watch this smart, modern classic.

Melampo Cinematografica

Of all the films on this list, ‘Life is Beautiful’ (‘La Vita è Bella‘ – original Italian title) is probably the most heartbreaking of all.   

Thanks to the incredible comedic talents and creative imagination of writer, director & star, Roberto Benigni, you almost forget that you’re watching a tragedy.   

If you have never had the privilege of watching this beautiful masterpiece, it’s worth every tear you will no doubt shed as you watch.   

One of the highest-grossing foreign-language films of all time, this film won scores of awards, including Best Foreign Language Film, Best Actor for Roberto Benigni which was the first time a non-English performance won the oscar in this category.

We give this film 5 stars – watch with a box of tissues.

Touchstone Pictures

If this film wasn’t so good, it might win the award for one of the corniest Italian films ever.   

Diane Lane owns her role so perfectly, it’s impossible to imagine anyone else playing the part of a heart-broken American writer who impulsively buys an Italian villa while on an unplanned trip to Tuscany.

How many of us have dreamed about doing the exact same thing and even falling in love with an Italian along the way?

If you’ve never watched this 2003 treasure, there’s no time like the present – and if you have watched Under the Tuscan Sun, you are probably due to watch it again as it is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2023.

Medusa Film

This is the second film on our list that was not only filmed in Italy but also is 100% in Italian with English subtitles.   Even if you’re one of those individuals who usually doesn’t watch non-English films, we recommend making an exception for this one.

The first reason is that the story, set in 1940 in Musellini-controlled Italy on the island of Sicily, about a young war-widow struggling to find enough to eat and the young boy who becomes her secret protector, is so compelling that you will forget you don’t speak Italian and that you’re reading subtitles.

Second, the two main characters play their parts so beautifully you get pulled into the heart of their story.   It is also worth noting that the lead actress, Monica Bellucci, is the most beautiful woman to ever walk the face of the earth and she is spectacular in this film.

Malena is an oscar-nominated, must-watch Italian film with a surprise ending that will warm your heart and make you believe in true love and forgiveness.

Paramount Pictures

It would be impossible to have a list of Italian films without including one starring Sophia Loren, “Queen of Classic Italian Films”.   

‘It Started In Naples’, is a charming 1960 film starring Sofia Loren, Clark Gable, and Vittorio De Siga.

Of course, Sofia Loren and her signature fiery Latin passion and temper are front and center in this film.   

Clark Gable, who would have probably been better cast as Loren’s grandfather, is as charming as ever – even though this film was released 21 years after he was in his prime in ‘Gone With the Wind’.

But the real star of this film, which was filmed on location in Naples and on the Island of Capri, is the little olive-skinned 8-year-old, Carlo Angeletti.      

This film will take you back to simpler times in the days after WW2 when Italy had become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

New Line International

It would be easy to skip over this 1998 film as only its first chapter was set in Italy.   But it would be a shame to leave ‘The Red Violin’ off of our list because it’s such a remarkable story.

Samuel L. Jackson guides us through this gripping tale which travels from Italy, Spain, France, Germany, China, and the USA.

If like many other films on this list, it has been a couple of decades since you watched this one, it may be time to revisit it.

A perfect “movie night” choice.

Paramount Pictures

Easily the darkest of all the films on this list, ‘The Talented Mr Ripley”, is beautifully filmed, beautifully designed, and beautifully cast – but to be clear, it is not a “feel-good” movie.   

If it weren’t for the all-star, young, attractive, and very talented cast, we would not have included this on our list. 

Set in Italy during the 1950s, this film is filled with perfectly designed sets and fabulous costumes.   

We can’t think of another movie with more star power than Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, and Philip Seymour Hoffman – all very early in their acting careers.

Watch at your own risk – don’t watch alone – and maybe not at night.

9.) The Italian Job (1969/2003)

Oakhurst Productions
De Line Pictures

For a great Italian heist movie, either the original 1969 version starring Michael Caine and set in Turin or the 2003 remake starring Charlise Theron and Mark Walburg set in Venice and Las Angeles are both great in their very unique ways.

They may share a name and the fact that they are heist plots, but the nearly 40 years that separate these films make them vastly different from each other.

Great suspense films with the best of the late 60s and early 2000s.

20th Century Fox

We are finishing off our list right back where we started – 1950s Rome.  ‘Three Coins in the Foutain’ is one of those classic feel-good films that have a “happily ever after ending” for one of those nights where you don’t want to deal with any more stress in your already-stressful-enough life.

The actress who played the mother in ‘Ole Yeller’ and ‘Swiss Family Robinson’, Dorothy McGuire, brings a certain warm familiarity to the film.

Filmed in wonderful 50’s Technicolor, this film shows off the best of Rome and makes us eager to toss our own coin in the Trevi Fountain.

Honorable Mentions

  • 8 of the James Bond 007 Films
  • ‘Tea With Mussolini’
  • ‘The Godfather’
  • ‘A Room With A View’
  • ‘The Great Beauty’ – (‘La Grande Bellezza’)
  • ‘Call Me By Your Name’
  • ‘Eat, Pray, Love’
  • ‘Oceans 12’
  • ‘Bicycle Thieves’
  • ‘The English Patient’

 

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Author Info:

Nathan Heinrich

Nathan Heinrich

Nathan is a writer, designer & horticulturist. He is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of "All Roads Lead to Italy" Magazine & host of the Top-10 Travel Podcast, "I'm Moving To Italy!". Nathan was born and raised in a 6th generation farming family in Northern California, he is currently, a dual Italian citizen, living in the Prosecco Valley of Northern Italy, near Venice.

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