For the ten best movies about Italy, we can't discount the setting. Few places can match Italy’s beauty and charm. The sun-drenched coastlines and lush countryside provide the perfect movie backdrop. And Italian cities provide settings of distinctive culture, rich history, and grand architecture.
Here are our picks for the ten best movies about Italy, in order of release (starting with the most recent). They include some of the most memorable movies of all time.
- "Under the Tuscan Sun" Diane Lane stars in this 2003 movie based on Frances Mayes' memoir. After her divorce, Frances tours Italy at a friend's urging. On a whim, she buys a Tuscan villa, hires a Polish crew to restore it, embraces new friends, immerses herself in the culture, and embarks on a life-changing adventure.
- "The Talented Mr. Ripley" Matt Damon stars as Tom Ripley in this 1999 thriller set in 1950s Italy. A wealthy American hires Ripley, a struggling New Yorker, to bring his frivolous son home from Italy. After befriending the rich playboy, Ripley commits a grisly act and assumes a new identity. Several Italian cities provide settings for key movie scenes.
- "Life is Beautiful" (La Vita e Bella) This 1998 movie won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film—and gave its star the Best Actor award. Roberto Benigni plays the role of a romantic Jewish man in Mussolini’s Italy. This movie turns the tragedy of the Holocaust into a haunting World War II comedy and love story.
- "Il Postino" In this award-winning 1995 film, a simple Italian postman, working on the islands off of Sicily's coast, learns to express his love with poetry and letters. Starring Massimo Troisi, the movie features the beautiful island of Salina.
- "Only You" This romantic comedy from 1994 stars Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey, Jr. A key scene features the Piazza Santa Maria. In this big screen valentine, Faith (Tomei) chases an unknown man to Europe because a Ouija board spelled his name as her true love. With her sister-in-law in tow, she travels the streets of Rome in search of the mystery man.
- "Where Angels Fear to Tread" Based on an E.M. Forster novel, this 1992 film stars Helen Mirren and Helena Bonham Carter. While traveling through Tuscany on holiday, a widowed English woman, Lilia (Mirren), falls for a handsome Italian and decides to stay in Monteriano. When relatives arrive to retrieve her, they discover startling news that will forever change the course of two families.
- "A Room With a View" Another adaptation of an E.M. Forster novel, this 1985 movie also stars Helena Bonham Carter. When Lucy (Carter) and her chaperone find themselves in rooms without views, a fellow guest and his son step in to remedy the problem. The lush landscape of Florence provides the setting for this film.
- "The Godfather" This 1972 Oscar-winning movie stars Marlon Brando as the patriarch of a New York Mafia "family." Based on the best-selling novel by Mario Puzo, the film is set in the Sicilian towns where the well-connected Corleone family makes good business with its neighbors—until competing families move into their territory and the bloodbath begins.
- "Three Coins in a Fountain" "You’ve never lived until you’ve loved in Rome." That’s the tagline for this classic film starring Clifton Webb and Dorothy McGuire. This 1954 movie tells the story of three American girls who dream of finding love in Rome. It features several Italian settings, including St. Mark’s Plaza in Venice and Rome’s Trevi Fountain.
- "Roman Holiday" This award-winning classic from 1953 stars Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. It offers viewers a real visual treat—the city of Rome in its full splendor. At least three famous scenes take place in archeological areas, including the Arch of Settimio Severo, the Coliseum, and the Mouth of Truth (La bocca della verita).