Movies featuring each region of Italy

Italy is home to a vibrant film making industry that has been widely recognized over the years for its quality and innovation. And, many filmmakers have used Italy as the setting for their films.

Abruzzo

Abruzzo is a mountainous region of Italy that also boasts miles of stunning coastline. Several movies have used Abruzzo’s magnificent vistas to good effect including Ladyhawke and The American.

The Name of the Rose

Based on the Umberto Eco novel, The Name of the Rose is a 1986 mystery starring Sean Connery and Christian Slater. Friar William of Basketville (Connery) and his apprentice (Slater) solve a murder. The movie is set in the 14th century and takes place in Rocca Calascio, a medieval fortress in Abruzzo.

Stream on YouTube TV.

Aosta Valley

Tucked between the Italian region of Piedmont, France and Switzerland, the Aosta Valley is the smallest and least populated region of Italy.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Very few movies have taken place in the Aosta Valley, but that didn’t stop the Avengers franchisee from shooting there. Fort Bard, originally a defensive complex built by the House of Savoy, became the fictional country of Sokovia in the movie.

Stream on Disney+

Basilicata

If Italy is a boot, then Basilicata is the arch, set in the south of the country. The region is best known for Matera, a town where cave dwellers lived well into the 20th century. Probably the most famous film shot here was The Passion of the Christ in which Basilicata stood in for the Holy Land.

Christ Stopped at Eboli

In 1935, doctor and anti-fascist activist Carlo Levi was exiled to a poor town in Basilicata. He wrote movingly of the his time there and the citizens of the town. His book, Christ Stopped at Eboli was not only a literary triumph but it also started a national conversation about the widespread poverty in southern Italy.

The book was made into a film in 1979. The cinematography is stunning and the movie won the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Available on Netflix DVD.

Calabria

Calabria, the toe of Italy, is known for spicy, rustic cuisine and rugged landscapes. Poverty has saddled the region for decades, forcing many young people to flee for better jobs in the north. Interesting movies like Corpo Celeste and Flight of the Innocent have been filmed in Calabria.

Le Quattro Volte

Le Quattro Volte (2010) takes place in mountainous area of Caulonia in Calabria. This deeply philosophical movie has almost no dialog.

Stream on the Criterion Channel.

Campania

Campania’s largest city is Naples and many movies have been set there over the years. Eat, Pray, Love has the famous pizza scene and the always spectacular Sofia Loren is in Vittorio De Sica’s L’Oro di Napoli.

My Brilliant Friend

Okay, technically not a movie. But, My Brilliant Friend is too perfect to pass up.

Based on the novel of the same name, My Brilliant Friend tells the story of two young women growing up in Naples after WWII. The actresses who play Elana and Lila (both as girls and young women) are extraordinary. My Brilliant Friend is simply one of the best TV shows of the last 20 years.

Streaming is available on several platforms including HBO+.

Emilia-Romagna

Bologna, a culinary capital of Italy, lies within Emilia-Romagna. Federico Fellini filmed his last masterpiece, Amarcord, in the province near Rimini.

1900

1900 is a cult classic that takes place in Emilia-Romangna during the time when communists and fascists were battling for political power. Coming in at over 5 hours in length, there’s plenty of time to enjoy the countryside of this region. Robert De Niro leads an all-star cast featuring Gerard Depardieu, Donald Sutherland, and Burt Lancaster.

Rent 1900 on YouTube TV or watch on Netflix DVD.

Friuli Venezia Giulia

Friuli Venezia Giulia is one of the youngest regions of Italy with its main city, Trieste, officially becoming a part of Italy in 1954. Several films (Diplomatic Courier, Sleeping Car to Trieste, Fugitive in Trieste) were made in Trieste during this time and deal with the Cold War, espionage, and the political crisis in the city since its fate was in limbo for several years after WWII.

The Invisible Boy

Middling accidental adolescent super-hero movie, but the scenes showing the vistas of Trieste are nice.

Lazio

Lazio is home to Rome and the Italian film industry, so picking a single movie to represent the region is almost impossible. So many classics like “La Dolce Vita,” “Three Coins in the Fountain,” “Bicycle Theives,” and “Umberto D” all feature the Eternal City prominently. More recent pictures like “Eat, Pray, Love” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley” also use Rome to good effect.

Roman Holiday

Roman Holiday has everything you want in a movie set in Rome. The Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Forum, gelato, and a crazy vespa ride. Not to mention the gorgeous and talented Audrey Hepburn who won the 1954 Best Actress Oscar for her work in the movie.

Available on Netflix DVD service.

Liguria

Northwestern Italy’s Liguria region boasts some of the most magnificent coastline the country has to offer including The Cinque Terre and upmarket Portofino. The 1991 film Enchanted April was filmed at Castello Brown in Portofino.

The Barefoot Contessa

An incredibly glamorous cast including Humphrey Bogart and Ava Gardner shot much of The Barefoot Contessa (1954) on a soundstage in Rome. However, several outdoor scenes were filmed in Sanremo and Portofino in Liguria.

Edmond O’Brien won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar and Golden Globe for his work in the film.

Stream on YouTube TV.

Lombardy

Lombardy is the richest region of Italy, boasting the financial capital of Italy, Milan. Beautiful Lake Como is also in Lombardy.

Casino Royale

Italy has been the setting in many James Bond films going all the way back to the second installment in the series, From Russia With Love. Daniel Craig’s first spin as 007 was in 2006″s Casino Royale. Like all Bond films, it is set in several exotic locations including the stunning Villa del Balbianello on the shore of Lake Como.

Stream on HBO Now.

Marche

Le Marche is a region on the Adriatic Sea known for agriculture (including truffles) and the manufacture of luxury footwear and leather goods.

Ossessione

Luchino Visconti’s first feature film was 1943’s Ossessione, based on the novel The Postman Always Rings Twice. Visconti ran into trouble making the movie as the Fascist government did not approve of the content, banned the film, and destroyed the negatives. Luckily, Visconti retained one copy of the film so it was not lost forever.

Many of the scenes in Ossessione were filmed in the Le Marche city of Ancona.

Available on Netflix DVD.

Molise

Molise is one of Italy’s smallest regions with a population that has been declining for 60 years. The region is also often the butt of jokes made by the residents of more prosperous and popular regions.

My County

My Country is a charming film set mostly in Molise (and Rome). Starring American writer/directer Giancarlo Iannotta, this 2017 road trip movie captures the beauty and spirit of Molise.

Stream on Amazon Prime.

Piedmont

Piedmont is one of the wealthiest and most visually stunning of the Italian provinces. Foodies flock here to enjoy wine and truffles. And, Fiat, Italy’s flagship auto maker is headquartered in Turin.

The Italian Job

We’re talking the 1969 Michael Caine original, not the limp 2003 remake. Caine leads a group of criminals that includes financier Noel Coward and computer hacker Benny Hill (!) in a plan to steal gold from an armored car. Wacky hijinks ensure including a memorable car chase on the roof of the Fiat factory in Turin.

Stream on Tubi.

Puglia

Puglia is the heel of Italy’s boot. It’s also a magnificent region to visit with the charming trulli of Alberobello and the fanciful baroque city of Lecce. Perhaps one day someone will make a documentary about the magnificence that is Lecce.

Stendali

Cecilia Mangini has been making documentary films in Italy for over 60 years. One of her first films is the 1960 short Stendali, an examination of funeral customs in Puglia.

Watch on YouTube.

Sardinia

Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily. It’s also relatively unexplored by North Americans despite its natural beauty and excellent cuisine. Swept Away (1974) and the truly awful remake starring Madonna (2004) were filmed in Sardinia.

Giarrettiera Colt

In the 1960’s, Westerns were all the rage. To save money, studios began shooting some Westerns in Italy and Spain. The Dollars trilogy (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly) are the most famous, but lots of Spaghetti Westerns were churned out quickly and cheaply back then.

Giarrettiera Colt (1968) is the rare Spaghetti Western that features a female lead. The movie was shot in the western Sardinia in the town of San Salvatore di Cabras. The town still looks like it did 50 years ago, a deserted Mexican outpost on an Italian island.

Watch on YouTube.

Sicily

Of course the three Godfather films are the most famous movies about Italy, let alone Sicily. But, only a very small portion of the movies actually take place on the island. So, we’re going to go with another choice.

The Leopard

Luchino Visconti’s 1963 masterpiece is set in Sicily during the war for Italian unification in the 1860’s. It tells the story of a Sicilian family of nobility during this turbulent time. Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale star. The 45 minute (!) ballroom scene is stunning as is the lengthy battle scene in the streets of Palermo. Visconti won the Palme d’Or at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival for The Leopard.

Available on Netflix DVD.

Trentino-South Tyrol

The area of Trentino-South Tyrol is dominated by the Italian Dolomite mountains. It is here where Italian and Germanic cultures intermingle.

The Holy Land of Tyrol

The 1809 Tyrolean uprising is the backdrop for this melodrama. The mountain scenery is gorgeous.

Rent on iTunes.

Tuscany

Tuscany might be the most famous region of Italy. With Florence, Siena, and Pisa as well as her gorgeous hill towns, many visitors consider Tuscany the most Italian of the regions of Italy.

Several fine films have been set in Tuscany including The English Patient, Tea with Mussolini, and Life is Beautiful.

Under the Tuscan Sun

The movie that launched a million dreams of chucking it all and moving to Tuscany to renovate a villa.

Stream on Hulu.

Umbria

Umbria, like her neighbor, is filled with lovely hilltop villages, but is far less touristed than Tuscany.

My House in Umbria

Technically, My House in Umbria was shot around Rome and Tuscany. This Maggie Smith vehicle is charming and, at times, sad.

Available on Netflix DVD.

Veneto

Venice is the jewel of the Veneto, a place that many folks put on top of their bucket list. Unfortunately, for such a classic city, a lot of bad movies have been made here. Look no further than The Tourist, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp’s romantic comedy that is neither romantic nor a comedy. Venice looks good on the screen, though.

The Italian Job

The Italian Job gets its second mention on this list. The 2003 remake stars Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron and pales in comparison to the 1969 original. The boat chase scene through the canals of Venice is pretty cool, though.

Available on Netflix DVD.

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