Maybe it’s the pasta? Or the beautiful landscapes worthy of Hollywood endings? One thing is sure, and that is Italy continues to be a magnet for both movies and movie types. Whether as a scenic backdrop for films and music videos, or as the setting for star-studded romantic interludes, Italy is rich in cinematic associations. Just ask Ashton Kutcher. The New York Post reported that Kutcher spent Christmas in Tuscany with lovely screenwriter Lorene Scafaria. The two were spotted zipping around Pisa, and perhaps inspired by Pisa’s famously tilting tower, they did a little leaning of their own: sources say “they held hands” and that furthermore, “they shared spaghetti.”
Here are a few more starry-eyed cinematic Italy moments for all of us to share:
When the Material Girl, who after all is Italian-American, was at the height of her popularity in the 1980s, there was no beating around the bush: she went straight to the mother country to film the video for her biggest hit, Like a Virgin. Who can forget the sight of Madonna courting a lion and ducking under the bridges of Venice while she strutted and pouted for the camera? Even after all these years (the video was shot in 1984), it’s amazing how Madonna managed to keep her balance on that gondola without plunging earrings-first into a canal.
2. Katherine Hepburn
Long before there was Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun, there was screen legend Katherine Hepburn in David Lean’s bittersweet love story Summertime. Rarely has the city of Venice looked as gorgeous as it does in this movie, which introduced a generation of Americans to the beauty of La Serenissima, and also to the dark good looks of Bologna-born actor Rossano Brazzi, whose character charms Hepburn in this 1955 romance. At one point in the movie, Hepburn actually does fall into a Venetian canal – but please don’t try this on your visit!
3. Audrey Hepburn
One of this Hepburn’s most famous roles was as a hardworking princess in serious need of a break in the 1953 romantic comedy, Roman Holiday. From La Bocca della Verità (the Mouth of Truth) to the Spanish Steps and more, this popular movie got many Americans thinking (rightly) that maybe they should start planning a little Roman holiday of their own.
4. Chevy Chase
In 1985, Chevy Chase was a popular comedic actor and audiences were tickled to see him tooling around Rome with his wacky make-believe family, the Griswolds, in the hit comedy European Vacation. The Colosseum, the Spanish Steps and other famous Roman sights make an appearance in the oddball movie, and there is a scene where the Griswolds pop into a Roman boutique and try on funny high-fashion hats.
5. Helena Bonham Carter
It’s hard to say what the 1985 Merchant-Ivory classic A Room with a View made more famous: British actress Helena Bonham Carter or that gorgeous place called Tuscany. Okay, so Tuscany was already famous, but its flower-strewn hillsides and Renaissance icons came alive on screen as never before in this deft adaptation of E.M. Forster’s almost unforgivably romantic 1908 novel. Fiesole, a feisty Judi Dench and a fit Julian Sands all wowed audiences, too.
6. Robert Pattinson
Did somebody say vampires? Proving that Romania has no monopoly on afterlife lore, the Tuscan hill towns of Volterra and Montepulciano provided the luscious backdrop for actors Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Volterra was called Velathri some 3,000 years ago and was the northernmost of the 12 cities in the powerful Confederation of Etruria Propria. It’s also the fictional ancestral home of New Moon’s Volturi vampires.
7. Massimo Troisi
Speaking of things immortal, no mention of magical Italian cinema moments, however brief, would be complete without a mention of late Italian actor Massimo Troisi, whose star turn in 1994’s Il Postino helped earn the film five Academy Award nominations and one Academy Award. Poetry, politics, and the mesmerizing island of Salina (one of Sicily’s Aeolian Islands): it’s all there, and Italian as amore.
Which is your favorite Star? Let us know!!