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View near Bolzano Italy with vineyards in the foreground and the Italian Dolomites in the background, as included on a blog post about the best short travel quotes and travel captions

25 Best Movies Set in Italy (By Genre!)

With its stunning landscapes, magnificent cities, charming towns, and captivating culture, Italy has been a favorite place to film movies for decades–and as a result, there are plenty of wonderful movies set in Italy to choose from.

Whether you’re gearing up for a trip to Italy and hope to get inspired or just want to make the most of some armchair travel on a rainy day, here are some of the best movies that take place in Italy!

Kate Storm in a blue dress standing next to a Vespa on a street in Rome Italy--you'll see plenty of streets like this during your Rome vacation!

Classic Films Set in Italy

These classic movies set in Italy edge toward being a bit older and all are either based on classic books set in Italy or are classics in their own right… or both!

Roman Holiday (1953)

Perhaps the best-known and most classic movie set in Italy, Roman Holiday is Audrey Hepburn’s beloved comedy about a princess setting off to explore Rome–and it is also largely responsible for the immense popularity of the Mouth of Truth.

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A Room With a View (1985)

Based on the classic 1908 novel by E.M. Forster, A Room With a View opens with the adventures of a young Englishwoman, Lucy Honeychurch, as she explores Florence–complete with plenty of places that are recognizable to visitors today, driving home just how long travelers have been infatuated with Tuscany!

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La Dolce Vita (1960)

The Italian movie of La Dolce Vita (translated to “The Sweet Life”, a common phrase in Italy) chronicles the adventures and many romances of a gossip columnist as he explores the streets of Rome over the course of a week.

One of the best-known and most classic Italian movies, you’ll see references to La Dolce Vita in some of the other movies set in Italy on this list!

View of the Roman Forum and Colosseum from tha Altare della Patria, one of the best viewpoints in Rome

Enchanted April (1991)

Four English women in the 1920s are determined to leave the gray weather of the UK behind for the month of April–and where better to go than the coast of Italy?

This story of friendship is set (and was filmed in) Castello Brown in Portofino, and while the plot of the movie (and the classic book it was based on) is interesting in and of itself, the views of Portofino alone would make this movie well worth watching.

The Godfather (1972)

Perhaps the most famous of all of these movies set in Italy, The Godfather follows the exploits of the Corleone crime family for ten years, centering primarily on the family’s patriarch, Vito Corleone, and his son Michael Corleone.

The movie was filmed in both New York and Sicily and remains one of the most celebrated movies of all time.

Photo of the Ionian Sea as seen from Taormina. There are cacti in the foreground of the photo.

Romantic Movies Set in Italy

While virtually all of the movies set in Italy included in this blog post have some kind of romantic plot or subplot, these three movies center primarily on a love story.

When in Rome (2010)

A skeptical New Yorker takes a trip to Rome and accidentally places several would-be suitors under a love spell–so begins the plot of When in Rome, a lighthearted romantic comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, while sharing plenty of scenes of beautiful Rome.

And, while it isn’t explicitly stated, the fountain of love that is featured in the movie is most likely featured on the Trevi Fountain.

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Letters to Juliet (2010)

Verona, vineyards, and plenty of romance: Letters to Juliet is a fun romantic comedy set, like its namesake, in fair Verona.

When Sophie tags along on a trip to Verona with her fiance, she finds herself with a lot of time on her hands–and eventually finds a “Letter to Juliet” written by a heartbroken woman in the 1950s.

Hoping to help the woman find her love decades after he was lost, Sophie returns the letter to its owner and sets off on an adventure across Italy.

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Only You (1994)

Faith believes that her true love is set in stone: she and a man named Damon Bradley are meant to be… despite the fact that she hasn’t found him.

When she flies to Venice to find him, she finds another paramour instead–but will she be able to let go of her idea of fate and give into the love in front of her?

While the movie itself is considered rather unexceptional, the scenes showing off Italy are a delight and stretch across Venice, Rome, Tuscany, and the Amalfi Coast.

Photo of Positano from above. The town and cliff is on the right, beach at center bottom, and sea with boats to the left. Recommended stop on a 3 day Amalfi Coast itinerary.

Self-Actualization Movies That Take Place in Italy

While a couple of these films could also be classified as romantic movies set in Italy, ultimately their themes run more toward self-discovery than romance–and they include some of the best-known travel movies for Italy travel inspiration.

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

Based on a true story, Under the Tuscan Sun chronicles Frances Mayes’ experience buying a Tuscan villa near Cortona on a whim, and her journey as she renovates the property and gets to know the locals (Italians and expats alike).

While the movie does change some key points from both the book (which is focused much more on the house, Bramasole, itself) and Frances Mayes’ actual life, the movie is a delightful way to experience a sliver of the Tuscan countryside when you can’t actually hop on a plane to see it.

View of the countryside from the edge of Montepulciano, an excellent stop on any Tuscany itinerary!

Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Adapted from the critically acclaimed 2007 novel by the same name, Call Me By Your Name tells the coming-of-age story of 17-year-old Jewish-American Elio over the course of a summer spent in a 17th-century villa in Italy in 1983.

At the heart of the story is the development of Elio’s romantic relationship with 24-year-old Oliver, also a Jewish-American, but ultimately, Call Me By Your Name is as much about growing up as it is about falling in love.

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Eat, Pray, Love (2010)

Elizabeth Gilbert’s runaway best-seller about her one-year journey to find herself in Italy, India, and Indonesia after a hard divorce has captivated audiences around the world, as has its movie adaptation–and, of course, the Italy section of the movie focuses on the “eat” section of the title.

Featuring plenty of scenes sprinkled across Rome and Naples, watching Eat, Pray, Love will definitely not fail to make you crave several hearty meals worth of delicious Italian food!

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Shadows in the Sun (2005)

Set in Tuscany, this made-for-TV movie about Italy tells the story of a young writer who is tasked with traveling to Tuscany to find an older, celebrated author who is suffering from writer’s block, and convince him to write again.

The Tuscan countryside, some clashes with the older writer in question, and a dash of romance, though, distract him along the way.

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My Brilliant Friend (2018 – ?)

I’m technically breaking my own rule here, because My Brilliant Friend is a TV show rather than a movie, but Elena Ferrante’s series is too wonderful not to include here.

Here’s the setting: it’s a poor, violent neighborhood in 1950s Naples. Two girls befriend each other, defy the non-existent expectations of their academic talents, and dream of achieving great things.

One is able to continue their education past elementary school. One is not. What happens next?

That is the story of My Brilliant Friend, and it’s absolutely one worth experiencing.

While I am separating books from movies set in Italy here, I’d be remiss not to suggest, in this case, reading Elena Ferrante’s phenomenal series the show is based on first–not only is her language too riveting not to experience, but the show itself was filmed in Italian, so having context before diving into subtitles helps.Piazza in Naples, setting of several of the best movies set in Italy

Political + Action Movies Set in Italy

Looking for a mystery, a bit of political intrigue, or just some good, old-fashioned chase scenes through beautiful Italian cities?

If so, these movies that take place in Italy are for you!

Angels & Demons (2009)

Acting as a sequel to The DaVinci Code movie (though the Angels & Demons book was actually a prequel), the Angels & Demons movie brings back the character of Robert Langdon, a symbologist who is tasked with solving a mystery around a plot to murder four Catholic cardinals.

Filmed in Rome, Angels & Demons is packed with scenes that will make you miss Rome, as well as potentially add a few out-of-the-way corners to your list of places to see the next time you visit!

St Peter's Square on sunny day with car parked in the square--checking out this square is a must-see when touring Vatican City!

Quantum of Solace (2008)

Of course, no list of movies that take place in Italy could fail to include a James Bond movie or two! James Bond is perhaps the ultimate franchise for inspiring wanderlust via action movies.

Quantum of Solace, the immediate sequel to Casino Royale, opens in Italy, with scenes in and around Lake Garda, the Tuscan countryside, and Siena.

And, while the bulk of Casino Royale takes place in Monaco, if you’re watching James Bond movies, you might want to pop Casino Royale in as well: a gorgeous villa on Lake Como was used to film a few scenes.

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The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Set in the 1950s and boasting an all-star cast including Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow, I have to admit I’m hesitant to include any details about the plot of The Talented Mr. Ripley in this blog post about movies set in Italy, because I watched it with absolutely no clue what the plot was and ended up enthralled with the twists and turns.

If you’re into psychological thrillers, excellent acting, and/or absolutely stunning cinematography showcasing Italy’s beauty, add The Talented Mr. Ripley to your list of movies to watch about Italy.

Gondola being steered around a corner between two canals in Venice. Venice's canals were used for many incredible scenes in movies that take place in Italy

The Tourist (2010)

Part intriguing spy movie and part heist movie, The Tourist is a fairly standard, if enjoyable movie–but where it truly shines is in how obvious it is that much of the movie was filmed on location in beautiful Venice, and it is complete with chase scenes in the lagoon and across the rooftops.

While the movie’s understanding of Venice’s layout is a little spotty, the movie is a feast for the eyes for those who love the city of canals.

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Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

The newest movie in the current Spider-Man franchise has all the elements of an MCU universe movie, complete with a huge battle that takes place in Venice!

The movie is set partially in Venice, as well as several other places scattered across Europe, and while a set was built to film the battle scene (the actual Rialto Bridge definitely would not have been suitable for filming) some scenes were filmed on location in Italy.

Kate Storm looking toward San Marco Campanile from Scala Contarini del Bovolo, which is an excellent place to visit during 2 days in Venice

The Italian Job (2003, 1969)

A classic heist movie featuring Mini Coopers and plenty of Venice (including an epic chase scene through Venice’s canals), The Italian Job tells the story of several criminals banded together to get back at a former colleague who double-crossed them after a successful heist.

While the 2003 version of this movie set in Italy is the one we’re most familiar with, it was actually a remake of a 1969 British film!

Tea With Mussolini (1999)

Centered around a young man with a father who would rather not acknowledge him and his relationships with a group of older, wealthy British expats, Tea With Mussolini tells the story of WW2 through the lens of how its characters are affected throughout the rise of fascism and later war in Italy.

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Teen Movies Set in Italy

These movies set in Italy are definitely a nod to my generation, but fellow millennials no doubt remember growing up with these lighthearted movies filmed in Italy!

When in Rome (2002)

I’m sure I’m not the only millennial who remembers very early wanderlust inspiration provided by the Olsen twins and their series of movies that took a different pair of fictional twins to an exotic location (in addition to Rome, Paris, Australia, New York, London, and the Bahamas were all featured in a film).

When in Rome centers around a summer fashion internship the twins score, complete with distracting boys, great views of the Colosseum, and sabotaging coworkers.

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New Moon (2009)

The second installment of the (in)famous Twilight saga concludes with a distraught Bella Swan tearing through Tuscany to save the life of her suicidal, semi-immortal love Edward Cullen from the Volturi, a dangerous governing body of ancient vampires that he’s determined to anger because (insert teenager reasons).

The whole plot is completely over the top, of course, but the climax was indeed filmed in Italy, complete with installing a fountain for Bella to run through in the piazza. 

The very real Tuscan town of Volterra is the setting in both the New Moon book and movie, but Montepulciano stands in for Volterra during filming.

Piazza Grande in Montepulciano right after a rainstorm--this Tuscan town is absolutely worth visiting as part of your Tuscan road trip itinerary.

The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003)

Acting as the conclusion to the Lizzie McGuire Disney Channel show, The Lizzie McGuire Movie is a fun early-2000s teen movie that includes not only 14-year-old Lizzie McGuire singing onstage in the Colosseum, but meeting a cute boy on a Vespa at the Trevi Fountain and ditching her school group to hang out with him, and cartwheeling on the Spanish Steps.

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Photo of Lake Como on top of a photo of Siena from above, black text on a white background reads "25 best movies set in Italy"

 

4 thoughts on “25 Best Movies Set in Italy (By Genre!)”

  1. Great list with my favorite “The Godfather” up there however the classic “Roman Holiday” was well-chosen for the number one position. If you want a list of 26 I suggest adding the creepy Venetian-noir “Don’t Look Now”.

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