Italy has a long and glittering history within the film industry. From the glorious Cinecitta’ to the light hearted Telefoni Bianchi, Italy continues to thrive as a hub for cinematic expression. But not only has it produced some incredible stand-alone pieces as well as favorite genres like the spaghetti western, it has been the back drop of international films that have reached extraordinary fame. Whether you have booked a vacation in Sicily or have a short break in Tuscany on the cards, at least one of the world’s famous films will have a location there.
The Godfather (1972)
The Godfather is a movie that needs little to no introduction, often cited as one of the best films of all time, especially in American Cinema, this movie transformed forever the gangster genre. Though there have been many reports that filming was not all smooth sailing, they did manage to film on location in Sicily for the relevant parts. Though the town of Corleone was too built up for the film’s historical needs, they used Savoca and Forza d’Agro instead.
Inspector Montalbano (1999-2021)
Sicily’s version of Sherlock Holmes has a much warmer setting than Victorian London. As Inspector Montalbano continues to search for the criminal behind the crimes, he wanders through the sun soaked baroque architecture. Though the novels the series is adapted from were set in the fictional town of Vigata, originally based on the author’s home town of Porto Empedocle, the studio chose to film in picturesque Ragusa instead.
Il Postino (1994)
Based on a novel and previous film Il Postino, directed by Michael Radford, moves the fictional story of Pablo Neruda and an unlikely friendship out of Chile and onto a small Italian Island. As the friendship blossoms, Neruda and Mario overcome the gulf in education. The 1994 movie was filmed in Procida, one of the Flegrean Islands off the coast of Naples and Salina, one of the Aeolian Islands in Sicily.
Il Gattopardo (1963)
Based on the novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa published posthumously in 1958, Il Gattopardo has been lauded as some of Italy’s most important modern fiction. The plot follows some of Sicily’s most tumultuous history, the unification of the two Kingdoms of Sicily. The film is set all over Sicily, the author’s home island, Cimina, Palermo and Rome also feature.
La Dolce Vita (1960)
It is impossible to list Italian film locations and miss out La Dolce Vita. The most famous scene in the Trevi Fountain was filmed early in the year and the water was therefore rather chilly. This led to rumors that one of the cast had to drink a fair amount of alcohol before the water was tolerable. La Dolce Vita is set around Rome and mostly filmed either at Cinecitta’ Studios or around the city.
This historical epic, though mainly set in Italy, has limited locations in the country. With ancient Rome being filmed in Malta and scenes in Morocco, the key flash backs are filmed in Tuscany. This beautiful landscape fits the nostalgic and romanticized element of the film and if you visit Tuscany, it is easy to see the appeal of the area.
La Grande Bellezza (2013)
A star studded cast travelled all over Rome to film this award-winning movie questioning the meaning of life. Not only does it showcase some of the eternal city’s lesser known monument, opting for Fontana dell’Aqua Paola over the more famous Trevi or Four Rivers fountains, it also takes views from Tuscany as well. This film was met with much critical acclaim, winning academy awards and golden globes.
Set ten years after Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal drew in audiences to see the continuation of the crime thriller that had shocked the cinematic world. The early part of the film is set in beautiful Florence, at odds to the darkness of the actions that happen in its walls. Palazzo Vecchio is the location for a particularly gruesome scene.
One of the world’s most famous secret agents gets to go to fabulous locations in the name of queen and country, but over his many years in service, he has returned to Italy for some truly stunning scenes ….. which we’ve listed below.
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
With the villain’s base (Stromberg) in Sardinia, what better excuse does Bond need to visit the glorious beaches and azure stretches of sea. With his leading lady (Barbara Bach) in tow, Bond sets off for some stunning car chases in Cala di Volpe.
Casino Royale (2006)
In Daniel Craig’s first Bond role, we go back to the earlier happenings in Bond’s career that does much to explain the suave and womanizing character of later stories. Through a series of unfortunate events, Bond and Vespa end up in the glorious city of Venice, the perfect location for her final betrayal.
The most recent of the James Bond sagas sees an early and humorous scene in the film following a typical car chase through the capital city’s winding streets, though held up by a Fiat driver and the general confusion of Rome’s roads, it is not long before he is back to business to get to the bottom of attacks in Mexico City.
The Tourist (2010)
A film starring two of the biggest names in Hollywood – Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, it defies genres as it straddles the line between Comedy and Drama and the Director, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck defines it instead as ‘a travel romance with thriller elements’. With scenes in Paris and Venice, this film truly expresses the beauty of the waterlogged city and as Venice has always been wrapped in mystery, the narrative perfectly fits with its natural allure.
The Italian Job (1969)
This classic marries some of the UK’s best actors with Italy’s most incredible scenery. With a heist planned for the city of Turin, the wily British crew navigates the Alps and the Mafia in an effort to steal several million dollars’ worth of gold. While the ending is a cliff-hanger (literally), it showcases the stunning countryside surrounding the city as well as the chaotic traffic in beautiful Turin.
The Da Vinci Code (2006)
This mystery thriller film is based on the famous Dan Brown’s 2003 novel of the same name. It stars Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou, among many others, and it follows the ordeals of a professor of religious symbology investigating a murder in the Louvre that leads to a gripping quest for the Holy Grail in the Vatican.
Angels & Demons (2009)
The sequel of the 2006 film The Da Vinci Code and Dan Brown’s 2000 novel of the same title. Filming took place partly in Rome with Tom Hanks reprising his role as Professor Robert Langdon, now on a quest to recover a missing vial of antimatter from a mysterious Illuminati terrorist.