Summary: Life in Italy for expats is glamorized in the movies, and there's nothing at all wrong with that. Here are 5 movies set in Italy that will help you fall in love with Italy all over again.
Expats in Italy are treated to cultural experiences that most people only get to dream about. Some, however, dream big and actually find their way into the expatriate experience in Italy.
Perhaps the only place more romanticized than life abroad in a country as culturally rich as Italy is Italy in the movies. Even films that show some of the challenges and travails of life abroad can make one desperately want to take the plunge and move there.
With all of that in mind, here are 5 films shot in Italy that will make you fall in love with the country all over again. Most involve expats living in Italy, but not all. Let us know what you think in the comments below!
What could be more romantic than a woman getting swept off her feet by Gregory Peck? Well, how about if that woman is a princess, played by Audrey Hepburn, and the movie is set in Rome? The director, William Wyler, originally planned to shoot the film in color. He refused the studios demand to shoot the movie on a Studio lot, and instead opted for Rome in black and white. It works. Peck plays an American expat reporter who stars along Hepburn in what was her first leading role. Film history!!! IMDb: Roman Holiday
Even though it has received a ton of accolades among critics and foreign film lovers, Cinema Paradiso is still perhaps one of the most underrated movies of all time. If you don't like watching movies with subtitles, this is one movie where you need to power through. Otherwise you'll be missing not only an unforgettable film, but an important one. It is widely credited, rightly, with helping to rejuvenate Italy's film industry. Now, there isn't much of an expat angle to this film, but it's one that touches on many themes expats can relate to, such as chasing your dreams and the impact it has on relationships. It involves a famous director's look back at his coming of age in the period after World War II, and his relationship with the projectionist at the local cinema. IMDb: Cinema Paradiso
Under the Tuscan Sun is about a newly-divorced woman, played by Diane Lane, who buys a villa in Tuscany on a whim. For that reason, it has to be included in this list. I've read criticisms online that mock some of the dialogue and other aspects of the movie, but it does a great job of showing some of the unexpected realities that can overwhelm expats. Even critics that panned the movie acknowledged Lane's performance, which garnered her a Golden Globe nomination for best actress. IMDb: Under the Tuscan Sun
Katherine Hepburn is paired with Rossano Brazzi and David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago, A Passage to India) directs in this romantic comedy set in Venice. Hepburn plays a school secretary and the brief romance she experiences with the owner of an antique store (Brazzi). Her Italian suitor has a secret he tries to keep from her... what happens when she finds out? David Lean fell in love with Venice while directing, and spent as much time there as possible in the years that followed. IMDb: Summertime
Shot in Rome, Venice, Campania, Tuscany and a few other parts of Italy, The Talented Mr. Ripley is a psychological thriller starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law. Ripley (Damon) is sent to convince the son of a wealthy shipbuilder (Law), an expat in Italy, to come home to the United States. The movie received many accolades, some criticisms for being overly commercial and its departures from the novel on which it is based. However, the sites and scenes in Italy will thrill expats (and wannabes!) as much as the diabolical plot. IMDb: The Talented Mr. Ripley
These are just a few of the movies set in Italy that are bound to whet your appetite to experience life in Italy. We hope to get the conversation started and hope you'll share some of your favorites in the comments below!
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About the Author
Joshua Wood joined Expat Exchange in 2000. His areas of responsibility include creative aspects of the community, research, sales and business development. Joshua received his Master's Degree in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University and graduated from Syracuse University with a BA in English Textual Studies.