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Movies Set in Italy

Updated on September 10, 2014
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English-Language Movies Filmed in Italy

These films and movies set in Italy have as a backdrop one of the loveliest countries, and one that has a rich culture and a history that lives on in the stone all around you.

It is easy to see why so many people fall for the charms of Italy, whether the Alpine regions of the far north, the eternal city of Rome, or the sunbaked landscapes of the south and Sicily.

Some of these movies filmed in (or mostly in) Italy may be familiar to you. Others might be new. All of them have English dialogue except in brief scenes with local people (normally subtitled). And each will reveal a little of the beauty and warmth of this boot-shaped country in the Mediterranean Sea.

Sunflower field in Umbria, Italy

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Florence, Tuscany: A Room with a View

Period drama romance of the early 1900s

The Story

This elegant Merchant-Ivory period drama based on a novel by E.M. Forster explores the adventures of a young Englishwoman in Florence in the early 1900s.

The story opens as Lucy Honeychurch, sheltered and restrained by English social conventions, arrives at a small guest house in Florence with her travelling companion, a fussy older cousin. Among the odd collection of guests are a rather unconventional Englishman and his son, who exchange rooms with Lucy and her cousin so that the ladies might have a view.

Lucy and the young man, George Emerson, find themselves coming in contact again as Lucy explores Florence and becomes aware of the more passionate undercurrents of life. Italy reveals to her first violence and then romance, unexpectedly calling into question the future that has been mapped out for her.

Locations in Italy

This movie was filmed on location in Florence in Tuscany and in England. The Florentine scenes include Piazza Sante Croce and inside the church, Piazza della Signoria, and Ponte Vecchio. The famous kiss in the meadow scene takes place at Fiesole, a hill town just outside Florence. Filming also took place at the grand Villa di Maiano near Fiesole.

Florence, movie location of A Room with a View

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Discover A Room with a View on DVD - The Merchant-Ivory Classic of love blossoming in Italy

The Merchant-Ivory film of A Room with a View was released in 1985 and stars Helena Bonham-Carter as Lucy, with co-stars Julian Sands as George Emerson, Maggie Smith as the cousin and chaperone Charlotte Bartlett, Dame Judi Dench as the writer Miss Lavish, and an almost unknown Daniel Day-Lewis as Lucy's fiancé Cecil.

The classic story was remade for television in 2007, with Elaine Cassidy starring as Lucy opposite Rafe Spall as George Emerson (his father Timothy Spall playing Mr Emerson).

A Room With a View (Two-Disc Special Edition)
A Room With a View (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Watch A Room with a View if you love costume drama and Merchant-Ivory productions.

For those familiar with the book or movie, why not relive the magic as Lucy Honeychurch visits Florence and encounters a young man who makes it a trip to remember.

 

Tuscany: Under the Tuscan Sun

Based on a true life story of an American's new life in Italy

The Story

This sunny and funny movie set in Tuscany is partially based on the best-selling novel of the same name by author Frances Mayes, although there are also many differences between the book and the movie.

In the movie version, wealthy but heart-broken recent divorcee Frances takes a trip to Tuscany on a gay bus tour, a gift from her friends. While there, she discovers a neglected villa 'Bramasole' for sale and makes an impluse purchase. So begins her restoration of this lovely Tuscan villa and the creation of the life she wishes she had... and that slowly begins to come to her.

In the process she has a whirlwind romance with the wrong man before discovering what she truly wants from life. The message of this film seems to be that in restoring the Tuscan villa she at the same time restores her true self.

Locations in Italy

The real life villa restored by Mayes is in the town of Cortona in Tuscany. She now owns a second property in the area in addition to Bramasole. Discover more in this interview with Frances Mayes.

In the movie, filming is on location in Tuscany, Rome and Positano.

Cortona, movie location of Under the Tuscan Sun

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Discover Under the Tuscan Sun on DVD - A romantic drama set in a beautiful Italian landscape

Under the Tuscan Sun was released in 2003 and stars Diane Lane as Frances. The men in her new life are played by Vincent Riotta and Raoul Bova.

Watch Under the Tuscan Sun for the stunning Italian locations which have been beautifully captured and are arguably the true star of this movie. Also ideal for any lover of 'chick flicks' who likes romance and escapism, with some laughs thrown in.

Avoid if you are upset by cliches and stereotypes and by an over-romantic view of life in a new country.

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Umbria: My House in Umbria

Drama about a collection of individuals thrown together in an Umbrian villa

The Story

An odd collection of individuals gather in the Umbrian home of a rather eccentric English author to recuperate following a terrorist attack, a traumatised little girl among them. The villa sits in beautiful gardens in a maginificent Umbrian landscape that is not just a backdrop but a key element of the movie.

Indeed, in this film about human conflict and healing, it is the beauty of Umbrian countryside that brings these flawed and suffering characters together and unites them.

Locations in Italy

As the title suggests, the locations of this film are intended to represent Umbria. However, portions of this movie were filmed in San Casciano (Siena) in nearby Tuscany with some studio filming in Rome. Tuscany and Umbria have smilar landscapes so the magic of the Umbrian countryside is still very believable.

Umbria, setting for My House in Umbria

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Discover My House in Umbria on DVD - A gentle thriller in the magical Umbrian countryside in Italy

Dame Maggie Smith is the highly-acclaimed star of this movie, playing the flawed but kind-hearted hostess of the survivors. Her co-stars include the late British comedian Ronnie Barker, Timothy Spall (Harry Potter series and Oscar-winner Chris Cooper (Adaptation), as well as Joyeux Noel star Benno Fürmann. The little girl Aimee is played by Emmy Clarke who more recently played Julie Teeger in the Monk series.

My House in Umbria was released in 2003.

My House In Umbria
My House In Umbria

This highly-rated movie will appeal to all who enjoy a finely crafted human drama played out against a magnificent Italian backdrop. Maggie Smith fans will enjoy her acting talents put to use in playing a less than pristine character, and anyone who loves Italy will enjoy the cinematography. This may not be for you if you want a light 'chick flick' or something fast-paced.

 

Lake Como: A Month by the Lake

Romantic Comedy in the Italian Lakes

The Story

Lake Como is quite simple a stunning Italian movie location, as this film shows. This romantic comedy has a collection of individuals each pursuing the wrong love interest during the month of April 1937.

Middle-aged Englishwoman Miss Bentley finds herself fending off the amorous advances of a handsome young Italian. Her own interest lies in the wealthy Major Wilshaw. However, he can't take his eyes off the flirtatious young American woman, Miss Beaumont.

The warm springtime sun and shimmering Italian lake create the perfect setting for this comedy of misplaced affections.

Locations in Italy

Filmed on location on Lake Como in Lombary, in the north of Italy. Lake Como has for many years been a retreat for the wealthy and today a number of celebrities have homes there.

Lake Como, movie location for A Month by the Lake

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Discover A Month by the Lake on DVD - Charming tale set in a picturesque Italian lakeside resort

A Month by the Lake stars Vanessa Redgrave as Miss Bentley opposite Edward Fox as the Major. Uma Thurman is the beautiful American girl who distracts him. The Italian is played by Alessandro Gassman (Transporter 2).

The movie was released in 1996.

A Month by the Lake
A Month by the Lake

One to watch if you are looking for a gentle and funny romance played out between more mature characters. Or simply see it for the gorgeous scenes of Lake Como. Viewers have given mixed reviews of the script with most loving it but some viewers being left cold, but the Lake Como location is in any case magical.

 

Which of these movies set in Italy do you like best? - Seen them? Recommend them?

Vote for the movie you like best (or the one you would most like to see)

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La Bella Italia

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You might also enjoy these films in (and about) Italy

  • Letters to Juliet: Amanda Seyfriend plays lead character Sophie in Letters to Juliet. She also plays Sophie in another movie set in the Mediterranean: Mamma Mia!
  • Tea with Mussolini: A stellar cast come together in Tuscany, where a group of foreigners gathered in Fascist Italy means plenty of drama.
  • Roman Holiday: The stunning Audrey Hepburn is paired with Gregory Peck in this sunny Italian classic. Believe it or not, it celebrated it's 60th anniversary a couple of years ago.
  • Bread and Tulips: What happens when a neglected housewife gets accidentally left at a rest stop? If you guessed a new life, new adventures and new love you wouldn't be far wrong!
  • Much Ado About Nothing: Ken and Emma when they were still a couple, making us laugh in this comedy set in a gorgeous Italian landscape.

Reader Suggestions for Italian Location Films - Thanks for the recommendations

Here are a few movies set in Italy that readers have suggested.

  • Summer in Genoa
  • Miracle at St Anna
  • The Italian Job
  • Dangerous Beauty
  • The Talented Mr Ripley

© 2010 Indigo Janson

Have You been to any of these Movie Locations in Italy? - Would you like to?

Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    RomeFan 2 years ago

    Sounds interesting. Nice lens and thanks for sharing. Anyway, I live Italy so much and I believe it's one among the most perfect places on earth to shoot romantic movies.

  • profile image

    GEMNITYA5 3 years ago

    Two Thumbs Up for your lens. Italy is for sure a Lovers Paradise. Hope to vacation there soon with my hubby.

    Blessings

    GEM

  • Max Globe profile image

    Max Globe 3 years ago

    I've only been to Umbria and never knew about the movie "My house in Umbria"! Thanks for the great lens!

  • Meganhere profile image

    Meganhere 3 years ago

    Yes, a few. I love Italy.

  • Joebeducci profile image

    Joebeducci 3 years ago

    Italy is a great country, the english movies set there are fine, but I love the Italian movies set in Italy much more! Greets, Joebeducci

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