18 June 2012

10 favourite movies set in Italy

Famed for its beautiful countryside and quintessential medieval towns, it comes as no surprise that Italy has been used as the backdrop for many movies, both Italian and international. The appeal is understandable; millions of tourists come to Italy every year to witness the scenes so often captured in the movies for themselves.

It is the fusion of nature combined with slight touches of man made structures perfectly mixed that continues to make the Italian countryside a top tourist destination year after year. It is this same appeal that continues to draw directors to shoot their movies here....

The following list of movies is just a small representation of what is out there, but they capture the essence of Italy and certainly celebrate the beauty found around every corner in this unique and exquisite area.

A Good woman

Filmed in southern Italy's Amalfi Coast, A Good Woman (2003), starring Helen Hunt and Scarlett Johansson, is set in 1930. Based on Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan: A Play About a Good Woman, from 1892, this production was filmed on location in and around the town of Amalfi, Atrani, Ravello, Sorrento as well as Rom. It brought back fond memories of my previous visits to Amalfi.

The Amalfi cathedral

The beach of Antrani, Amalfi coast

Ravello on the Amalfi coast
Sorrento on the Amalfi coast

Stealing beauty

Bertolucci turns Stealing Beauty, with a script by the American novelist Susan Minot (Monkeys), into an intimate meditation on sex, art and leaving home.

Liv Tyler plays Lucy who arrives in San Sano, Tuscany to meet family, be sculpted, find out who her father is and to lose her virginity. Liv is quite beautiful as is the Italian countryside, and coming of age stories are always fun, but this movie is tastefully done.   
Needless to say the Tuscan setting just north of Sienna near Brolio castle is breathtaking!
San Sano


Baltimore industrialist Wendell Armbruster crosses paths with London shop girl Pamela Piggott when they come to Ischia to pick up the bodies of her mother and his father, who have been killed in an automobile accident after a ten-year summertime affair. Straitlaced Wendell tries to avoid a scandal while free-spirited Pamela is impressed by the romantic setting. After some confusion with the bodies and a blackmail attempt by unscrupulous locals, Wendell and Pamela extend their parent’s affair into the next generation.

The film is exclusively set in the Hotel Excelsior on the beautiful island of  Ischia near Capri just off the Amalfi coast.

Hotel Excelsior in Ischia

Hotel Excelsior Ischia

 The English patient

Anthony Minghella’s visually beguiling film of Michael Ondaatje’s WWII romance is set in Italy and Egypt, though the dazzling desertscapes are in fact Tunisia.
A Tuscan monastery (Sant 'Anna in Camprena) becomes a focal point within the film where the English patient reveals a serious of flashbacks when employed as a map maker charting the Sahara Desert in the 1930s.

They then moved on to Viareggio, a coastal resort town near Pisa, to create the emergency field hospital triage tent.

The actual Italian locations include the village, which is Pienza in Tuscany, and the chapel where Hana (Juliette Binoche) studies the frescoes. This is the 13th century Bacci Chapel in the Basilica of San Francesco at Arezzo, also in Tuscany.

The English Patient filming location: The 'Cairo' hotel: Hotel des Bains, the Lido, Venice

Bacci Chapel in the Basilica of San Francesco, Arrezzo

Pienza, Tuscany

 Only you

A woman throws caution to the wind in the pursuit of the man of her dreams -- whom she's never met -- in this romantic comedy. Eleven-year-old Faith and her cousin Kate are playing with a Ouiji Board when Faith asks who she will marry -- the magic oracle answers "DAMON BRADLEY," and Faith is convinced that she will one day meet this ideal love.
Fifteen years later, Faith (Marisa Tomei) has yet to meet her perfect man and has settled for Dwayne a sweet but boring foot doctor whom she's engaged to marry, with Kate (Bonnie Hunt) helping her plan the festivities. The day before the ceremony, Faith gets a call from one of the groom's friends, who won't be able to attend because he's travelling to Italy instead -- and his name is Damon Bradley. Convinced that fate is trying to tell her something, Faith hops on the next flight to Venice, where she searches for the elusive Damon.
Filming locations included Rome, Positano and San Gimignano.

San Gimignano in Tuscany

In Rome included the piazza at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Trastevere, Tiber Island, the piazza and column outside San Bartolomeo all'Isola, the Pons Fabricius northeast of Tiber Island, Esquiline Hill, the Fountain of Neptune at Piazza Navona.

Pizza Navona in Rome

Filming locations also included the Hotel Le Sirenuse at via Cristoforo Colombo in Positano (where they meet Billy Zane's character at the pool) and the Hotel Danieli in Venice.

Hotel Le Sirenuse

Hotel Le Sirenuse in Positano, Amalfi coast

Hotel Danieli in Venice

 Enchanted April

Moving north, as well as back in time to the 1920s, there’s Enchanted April (1992), filmed in Portofino, on the Italian Riviera. Warning: this movie is Dangerous! Even while the credits are still rolling, you’ll be researching villa rentals in Italy.

Based on the 1922 book by Elizabeth von Arnim, we especially enjoy the beautiful scenery and Polly Walker as Lady Caroline. She looks absolutely gorgeous, with a Dutch-doll bob and to-die-for wardrobe - we want every one of her outfits.

Many of the outdoor scenes were filmed at Castello Brown, above, now a museum, high above Portofino’s harbor.

Castello Brown in Portofino

Portofino, Liguria

 Tea with Mussolini

Tea with Mussolini presents Florence in a most tourist light. It includes all the greatest monuments in Florence such as Ponte Vecchio, Piazza del Duomo, Piazza Santa Maria Novella, Piazza Santissima Annunziata, the English Cemetery, Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria, and of includes the Florentine sunsets and sunrises.

Ponte Vecchio

Piazza Santa Maria Novella

 A Room with a view

The perfect Merchant-Ivory drama from EM Forster’s novel, blessed with a wonderful camp sensibility – just look at the interspersed captions – and a clutch of priceless cameos.

The locations are divided between the romantic holiday in Florence, and the southeast of England.

‘Pensione Bertolini’ in Florence, where English-rosebud-abroad Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham-Carter) finds herself in a room without a view, was the Quisisana e Ponte Vecchio. It closed down in the 1990s, but has been renovated and reopened again as the Hotel degli Orafi, Lungarno degli Archibusieri 4 alongside the Arno.

Quisisana e Ponte Vecchio or "Pensione bertolini" in the Room with a view

 Roman Holiday

American newspaperman Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) romances Euro-royalty, Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) around the touristy sights of Rome in this classic 60s romance which launched Hepburn’s career (and won her an Oscar).

One of the film’s most unforgettable locations must be the Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verita), the carved stone face which supposedly bites the hands off liars. This is where Bradley teases the Princess by pulling out his, apparently, handless arm, The mysterious face seems to have been nothing more than an ancient drain cover. It can be found in the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Piazza Bocca della Verita.

Roman Holiday location: The Mouth of Truth, Bocca della Verita, Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome
Yep, I did too.....

La boca della verita - The mouth of truth

Roman Holiday location: the apartment of Joe Bradley: Via Margutta, Rome
Bradley’s apartment is on a quiet artists’ enclave, via Margutta 51. Not a bad address. Federico Fellini lived, with his wife Giulietta Masina, at number 110.

 Under the Tuscan Sun

This film takes the viewer on a journey of self-discovery through the protagonist Frances Mayes (played by Diane Lane). After going through a painful divorce, Frances, at the urging of her friend Patti (Sandra Oh) takes a trip through Tuscany and ends up making a permanent move. Through the restoration of her villa, Frances discovers new friends, Tuscany and herself.

Diana Lane buys villa was filmed in Cortona, Tuscany

Cortona, Tuscany
Bank scene in Florence was filmed in Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, Florence, Tuscany

Flag waving scene was filmed in Montepulciano in the Piazza next to Via Ricci across from the well was filmed in Montepulciano

Flag-Waving show was filmed in Sansepolcro, Arezzo, Tuscany

 Marcelo and Francesca in Positano was filmed in Positano, Italia

Positano, Amalfi coast

 London Spa Girl x

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