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Italy Made Famous By Films

by Paola Fiocchi Van den Brande

Italy’s stunning landscapes, charming cities, and rich history have made it a popular choice for filmmakers. The ‘dolce vita’ has captivated the imagination of international directors since the 1940’s and viewers have dreamt through the actors’ eyes a sweet, slow life riding by Vespa along narrow cobbled streets dressed in fashionable clothes.

The list of globally acclaimed films set in Italy is long, and hard to summarize in one post. We hope to have made a thoughtful selection of the top destinations you must visit if you are either a film or Italy lover, or both:

Rome, Lazio:
Rome, the Eternal City, has played a pivotal role in numerous iconic films. Its historic architecture, grandeur, and timeless beauty have made it a dream destination for filmmakers.

“Roman Holiday” is perhaps the most famous film shot in Rome, featuring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in a romantic comedy that takes viewers on a delightful journey through the city’s iconic sites. From the enchanting Trevi Fountain to the ancient Roman Forum, and the legendary Bocca della Verità, the film captures the essence of Rome’s allure.

Meanwhile, “Angels & Demons” adapted from Dan Brown’s bestselling novel, is another notable film set in Rome. It takes audiences on a thrilling quest through Vatican City, where the historic St. Peter’s Basilica and other famous landmarks serve as intriguing backdrops.

Who can forget “Eat, Pray, Love” the 2010 American biographical romantic drama film starring Julia Roberts as Elizabeth Gilbert, based on Gilbert’s 2006 memoir of the same name, took us on a culinary journey through Rome’s gelaterie and pizzerie.

Rome’s cinematic appeal extends beyond its history, making it a must-visit destination for film and travel enthusiasts alike.

Venice, Veneto:
Venice’s unique beauty and enchanting canals have made it a prime location for filmmakers to weave their cinematic magic.

“The Italian Job” features a memorable boat chase scene through Venice’s waterways, showcasing the city’s distinctive architecture and picturesque canals.

In “The Tourist,” the grandeur of Venice’s palaces and the romantic allure of gondola rides create a backdrop for a captivating tale of intrigue and romance.

Additionally, the James Bond classic “Moonraker” includes a thrilling gondola chase in the Venetian canals, offering a suspenseful and unforgettable sequence.

Venice’s timeless charm, with its winding streets and water-based transportation, ensures it remains a favorite destination for filmmakers looking to add an air of mystery and romance to their stories.

Tuscany’s rolling hills and cypress lined lanes, charming villages, and vineyard-covered landscapes have made it a popular setting for films.

“Under the Tuscan Sun” tells a heartwarming story set in the beautiful town of Cortona, where the protagonist embarks on a journey of self-discovery amid Tuscany’s picturesque countryside.

“A Room with a View” beautifully captures Florence’s artistic and architectural splendor, with scenes set in the city’s iconic locations like the Piazza della Signoria and the Florence Cathedral.

“The English Patient” transports viewers to the rustic and romantic Tuscany of World War II, where the countryside serves as a stunning backdrop to a story of love and tragedy. Tuscany’s cinematic appeal lies not only in its scenic beauty but also in the genuine and warm atmosphere of its towns and the timeless allure of its cultural heritage.

Cinque Terre, Liguria:
The enchanting Cinque Terre, with its colorful villages perched on cliffs overlooking the Ligurian Sea, has provided a picturesque setting for several films.

“The Trip to Italy” offers comedic adventures across the region, showcasing the stunning landscapes, charming towns, and the unique character of each of the five villages. The film captures the essence of travel and the beauty of Cinque Terre’s coastal scenery, making it an inspiring destination for tourists.

On the other hand, “The Perfect Husband” takes a darker turn, portraying a suspenseful thriller set against the backdrop of these charming coastal towns. The juxtaposition of the idyllic setting and the suspenseful plot creates a unique atmosphere, making Cinque Terre a captivating film location for different genres.

Sicily’s diverse landscapes, rich history, and unique culture have made it a fascinating destination for filmmakers.

“The Godfather” trilogy, one of the most iconic film series in cinema history, features scenes shot in the small town of Savoca and the nearby town of Forza d’Agro. These locations served as iconic settings for the Corleone family saga and have become must-visit spots for fans of the films.

Meanwhile, “Cinema Paradiso,” a heartwarming Italian film, celebrates the magic of cinema and the nostalgic charm of a Sicilian village. The film beautifully captures the essence of Sicilian life and the profound influence of movies on the community, making it a touching portrayal of the island’s cultural and cinematic legacy.

Most recent masterpieces filmed in Sicily include the “Inspector Montalbano” series taking us to Ragusa, Noto and Modica and the internationally acclaimed “The White Lotus”, filmed in Cefalù and Taormina.

Sicily’s cinematic history and its natural beauty continue to draw visitors who are eager to explore the settings of these famous films and immerse themselves in the island’s rich cultural tapestry.


Matera, a city located in the Basilicata region of southern Italy, is renowned for its unique and ancient stone-carved architecture. The city’s historical center, known as the “Sassi di Matera,” is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is often referred to as the “City of Stones.” Matera’s extraordinary charm lies in its troglodyte dwellings, cave churches, and winding alleyways that date back to prehistoric times. These structures, carved into the rock and featuring a hauntingly beautiful, almost surreal aesthetic, have attracted filmmakers and visitors alike.

In recent years, Matera gained international attention as a prominent film location, particularly serving as the backdrop for movies like “The Passion of the Christ” and the James Bond film “No Time to Die” (although the famous bridge from which James Bond performs its jump is the Acquedotto in Gravina in Puglia (near Bari, Region of Puglia).

Matera’s captivating blend of history, architecture, and dramatic landscapes has made it a must-visit destination for those seeking a glimpse into Italy’s ancient past and cinematic allure

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