“Italy and the spring and the first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy.
Over the years, Italy’s cities and countryside have formed the backdrop to some of the best films in cinematic history. Here is a list of eight beautiful movies filmed in dreamlike Italian locations, from beautiful Rome, under the hot sun of Pantelleria, to romantic Verona, that will give you an irresistible urge to book a trip to the country of aromatic Chianti and crumbly Parmesan.
Call Me by Your Name (2017)
Director: Luca Guadagnino Location: Crema in Lombardy
Luca Guadagnino’s latest film depicts a sun-dappled version of Northern Italy with its grand architecture, verdant gardens, and misty swimming ponds. Call Me by Your Name is a touching tale about sensuality and awakening of the first love of a 17-year-old prodigy Elio (Timothée Chalamet) who is spending a lazy vacation at a beautiful 17th-century family villa in Italy. He soon meets a handsome 24-year-old doctoral student, Oliver (Armie Hammer). Throughout the summer holiday, two men discover the awaking desire that will alter their lives forever.
A Bigger Splash (2016)
Director: Luca Guadagnino Location: Pantelleria Island
The movie is a real aesthetic pleasure as all of its components – from its ultra-luxurious costumes to its camerawork – make it a film you can almost taste and smell. The remake of Jacques Dere’s “Pool” takes place under the hot sun of Pantelleria, a small island southwest of Sicily, depicting the incredibly beautiful nature of southern Italy. Recently retired rock diva Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton) takes a vacation with her boyfriend (Matthias Schoenaerts) in search of some quiet time. Soon their idyll is broken by the sudden visit of her ex-lover (Ralph Fiennes) and his seductive daughter (Dakota Johnson).
The Great Beauty (2013)
Director: Paolo Sorrentino Location: Rome
In the centre of the picture, filled with irony as a critical ingredient, is Rome, a multi-layered city-museum, surrounded by fragments of antiquity. The film is exceptional, as it captures Rome like no other, showing the viewers its sweet spots from the unexpected angles or at unusual times. The main character, the ageing writer Jep (Toni Servillo), spends his days in the lavish nightlife with other aristocrats by gathering for meaningless dance and pseudo-intellectual conversations. Everyone is having fun at first glance, but as the story unfolds, it becomes clearer why the main character feels miserable with his life.
To Rome with Love (2012)
Director: Woody Allen Location: Rome
To Rome with Love is a bright comedy set in one of the world’s most enchanting cities. The film is made up of four intercut short stories, which all are all connected to the eternal city and all of its beautiful settings. Some tales show aspects of the Romans’ lifestyle and culture, whereas others are about their relationships with foreigners in Rome.
I Am Love (2009)
Director: Luca Guadagnino Location: Milan
I Am Love is an art film set in a world of exquisite luxury, good taste, power of family and tradition. The movie is a visual feast for anyone interested in architecture and Italian modernist design. The story is about a Russian immigrant (Tilda Swinton), a wife to a wealthy Italian businessman, and her pursuit towards fulfilment outside of her cushy situation.
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
Director: Audrey Wells Location: Cortona, near Arezzo in Tuscany
A heart-warming film, based on a memoir written by Frances Mayes, is a sweet treat for the Italy-lovers for its excellent backdrop of sun-washed hillside vineyards, rustic farmhouses, and an earthy outdoor lifestyle filled with food and friends. The movie, starring Diane Lane as Mayers, follows the author’s path in finding herself and starting a new chapter in her life –purchasing a Tuscan villa, after the nasty divorce, to set the base for the new beginning.
The Talented Mr Ripley (1999)
Director: Anthony Minghella Location: Naples, Rome, and Venice
Beautiful cinematography, capturing the blue waters and idyllic landscape of sun-drenched Italy in the late 1950s, makes The Talented Mr Ripley one of the most stylish crime dramas in the history of the world cinema. The film is based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith and tells a story about Tom Ripley (Matt Damon), a young underachiever, who is sent to Italy to bring Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law), a wealthy and spoiled millionaire playboy, back home to America.
Bonus: If you have already watched “Mr Ripley” then also watch “Purple Noon” with Alain Delon – an earlier film based on the same novel, but its incarnation is entirely different.
Stealing Beauty (1996)
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci Location: Chianti area near Siena
If the atmosphere in the Garden of Eden were to be depicted, then this cinematography would come very close to it – its rustic production design, showing the warmth and tranquillity of the Tuscan countryside is. The movie follows a 19-year-old Lucy (Liv Tyler) who travels to a Tuscan hilltop town after her mother’s suicide, staying with family friends in a villa where she meets various personalities. She has many reasons for going: solving riddles from her mother’s past, as well as her own, also hoping to reconnect the Italian boy she fell in love with years ago.