A film lover's guide to Italy La Grande Bellezza

A film lover's guide to Italy

Explore Italy's film locations, from the classic to the modern.

Directors have been drawn to the romance and ready made film set beauty of Italy ever since celluloid was invented. The country offers numerous opportunities for fans to see and touch famous places from their favourite movies. So if you in the mood for combining your next holiday with a bit of movie magic here's our list of favourite famous film locations in Italy.

Rome

The Fontana di Trevi, celebrated for the paddling scene in Fellini's famous film 'La Dolce Vita', is perhaps more familiar for many in black and white than in colourful reality. Rome's beautiful scenery also features in the classic 'A Roman Holiday' where Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck ride through the city on Vespa, inspiring thousands of visitors to follow in their footsteps.

If you want to channel your inner Audrey/Gregory then you can book a customised tour of the Eternal City on a vintage Vespa with ScooterRoma.

scooteroma.com

Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck on Vespa in Roman HolidayAudrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck on Vespa in Roman Holiday

More recently the faded grandeur of the Eternal City has seen the limelight yet again in Paolo Sorrentino's Oscar-winning 'La Grande Bellezza' (The Great Beauty) - see main photo.

Tuscany

The popular romance film 'Under the Tuscan Sun' was largely filmed in Cortona in Tuscany and tells the story of a woman who decides to purchase a villa there. Today you can relive Diane Lane’s experience: the location, Villa Laura, offers superb accommodation.

Under the Tuscan sunUnder the Tuscan sun

The epic love story 'The English Patient' is largely set in Italy, with some scenes shot in Venice and Rome. The monastery of Sant’Anna in Camprena outside Pienza in Tuscany is also used for some scenes. The monastery dates from the early 14th century and is now is open today for tourists. There’s even an agriturismo on the old monastery’s grounds. 

The Tuscan capital was the setting for James Ivory's big-screen adaptation of EM Forster's poignant novel, 'A Room with a View' starring Helena Bonham-Carter. The room that lies at the centre of the story was actually room 22 of the former Pension Quisisana, which has now become room 414 of the four-star Hotel degli Orafi in Florence.

If you are more interested in understanding more about the country's history then make sure you watch Roberto Benigni's 'Life is Beautiful'. This heartbreakingly beautiful tragi-comedy about the Second World War and the horrors of internment in a Nazi concentration camp has many scenes shot in the stunning Tuscan towns of Arezzo and Cortona.

La Vita e BellaLa Vita e Bella

Naples

In Naples, you can visit Pizzeria Da Michele and relive a scene of 'Eat, Pray, Love', when Julia Roberts says, “I’m in love. I’m having a relationship with my pizza.” Not far away, in Galleria Umberto, you can hear the same echoes as in the film 'The Talented Mr Ripley', when Jude Law says to Matt Damon “It would be great, though, if you came with me to Sanremo, there’s a great jazz festival. We could say goodbye in style...”

Just north of Naples is Caserta, whose gigantic Baroque palace features in many films, such as the wall-scaling scene featuring Tom Cruise in 'Mission: Impossible III'. “Woe unto man! Brave Achilles, slain in trial by blood...”

Sicily

Woody Allen used the Greek Theatre in Taormina, Sicily, for the opening scenes of 'Mighty Aphrodite'. The island is particularly famous for ' The Godfather', and for part one, Francis Ford Coppola chose two small towns near Taormina, Savoca and Forza d’Agro. In Savoca, you can see the church where Michael and Apollonia married, and Bar Vitelli, where they celebrated after. No chance of acting out the famous line “Leave the gun, take the cannoli,” as that was filmed in New Jersey near the Statue of Liberty.

Bar VitelliBar Vitelli in Savoca which appeared in the Godfather, source: Flickr/Dennis Jarvis

Sicily was also the setting for the Oscar winning romance 'Il Postino' (The Postman) about an exiled Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. The film is shot in Salina, Palermo.

Venice

Many of the James Bond films include scenes around Italy, include Siena ('Quantum of Solace'), Sardinia ('From Russia With Love') and the lakes ('Quantum of Solace' and 'Casino Royale'). 

But beautiful Venice has arguably made the most memorable appearance in the Bond films. Who can forget the Sean Connery's gondola ride in the final scenes of 'From Russia with Love'? Or Roger Moore's absurd speedboat/gondola/hovercraft chase in 'Moonraker'? And more recently Daniel Craig enjoyed some short-lived rest and relaxation time in Venice the remake of 'Casino Royale'.

Casino-RoyaleDaniel Craig in Venice in Casino Royale

Milan and the lakes

The stunning lakes north of Milan with their towering mountains have played host to many films (including scenes from the aforementioned Daniel Craig's James Bond films 'Quantum of Solace' and 'Casino Royale'). But perhaps the most famous movies that have graced these waters are those in the Star Wars Triology.

Villa del Balbianello on Lake Como played host to 'Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones'. Scenes shot there are based in the fictionary planet Naboo and include the clandestine marriage of Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala.

The beautiful Villa del Balbianello was once a private house but is now open to visitors.

www.visitfai.it/villadelbalbianello

Star WarsVilla del Balbianello in Star Wars

The beautiful Art Deco Villa Necchi, just two minutes away from Milan's San Babila shopping area is most definitely the star of the movie 'I Am Love' featuring Tilda Swinton. This fomer private residence of a rich Milanese family is now run by the Italian National Trust and is open to visitors.

www.visitfai.it/villanecchi

Villa Necchi in 'I am Love'Villa Necchi in 'I Am Love' 

Across Italy

The original (and best) version of 'The Italian Job' starring Michael Caine was filmed in various locations across Italy including Turin and Piedmont. You can recreate the famous itinerary this year to raise money for charity starting on 29 October in Rome and finishing 7 November in the UK.

www.italianjob.com

The Italian JobThe Italian Job