Are you heading to Italy this summer? Or maybe daydreaming about it? Every day that I’m not in Italy I am dreaming about going back there. I love reading books set in Italy, but nothing prepares you or gets you in the mood to book that vacation quite like watching movies set in the sumptuous landscape of la belle Italia!
10 Gorgeous Movies Set In Italy
I used to work with Gregory Peck so I get extra joy out of watching this film! It can really only be described as a delightful romp through Rome. Set in 1953 with Audrey Hepburn playing a wayward princess and Gregory Peck playing a reporter, this was actually Hepburn’s first movie and she received her only Academy Award for this role. Roman Holiday Available on Amazon.com
Although largely panned by critics this absolutely gorgeous film starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp is well worth seeing! The visuals of Venice are spectacular and will leave you desperate to get there, to the most unique city on earth. The Tourist Is Available on Amazon.com
Under The Tuscan Sun
Very loosely based on Frances Mayes book of the same name, this film gives you a healthy dose of romance wrapped up in some of the most gorgeous views of Tuscany, as well as visits to Rome and Positano. How many Italian dreams began with this film?? You ca safely watch this film before reading the book as the stories are vastly different.
Based on the book of the same name, Julia Roberts plays Liz Gilbert, an American writer who takes a year out to find herself, traveling to Rome, then India and finally to Bali. The scenes in Rome are shot in my favorite areas around the Trastevere and Piazza Navona. If you watch this film before heading to Rome you will recognize every street she walks along, you can drink water from the same fountain she does, sit where she sits and eat gelato. It’s wonderful! Eat Pray Love is available here on Amazon.com
This exquisitely beautiful film about a mailman and the friendship he builds with an exiled poet, Pablo Naruda, is set on the Aeolian Island Salina and was shot both on Salina and on the island of Procida. The music is hauntingly lovely and the story is wonderful. I couldn’t find it on Amazon, but if you find it somewhere please tell us in the comment section below!
I always seem to be reading books about people living my dream, buying homes in Italy, renovating them, and embracing life in my favorite holiday destination.
I get so caught up in their stories that I often find my way to the towns and villages that they talk about, and get to experience a completely different slice of Italy that would have otherwise been missed.
Two years ago I discovered Sutri via a book that I loved, and it has become one of my absolute favorite places of all time. Another of the books on this list guided me to the Aeolian islands off the coast of Sicily, where I found the bluest sea I have ever seen and met some of the loveliest people. I cannot wait to get back.
I love recognizing shops and restaurants talked about in books I’ve read, I love knowing little things like which highway exit to take or the ideal train stop to get off at because an author led me there.
If you think you’d like to travel to Italy, but are not quite sure where, diving into a great travel essay is a magnificent place to start!
I actually have a huge library of books set in Italy, but as my office is packed into post-flood boxes right now and I can’t access them, I’m going to tell you about 7 of my favorites, all of which have been read over and over, and have become a living part of the road I’ve traveled.
My love of Italy was reawakened back in 1996 when this was first published. If you are heading to Tuscany this series is a must read. Mayes guides you through wonderful little towns, gives you some fabulous history and even tells you where to eat. Consider this book and it’s sequels travel bibles.
Don’t be swayed by the movie – both take place in Cortona, the home is called Bramasole, there were Polish workers and the protagonist is indeed called Frances, her husband is Ed. There are no other similarities. This book is a must read.
I go to Cortona every year, always lunch at Cafe Degli Artisti, and swing by Bramasole. Frances Mayes changed my life, set me a new course, and to this day feeds my Tuscan obsession.
outside Bramasole in Cortona with Ed Mayes, September 2014
Can you imagine finding out the man of your dreams spotted you walking through a piazza on your last day in Venice a year ago, that he thought about you every day since, and now, by chance, you walk into the cafe where he is sitting with friends? Marlena’s account of her first three years married to Fernando Di Blasi and their life together in Venice is just intoxicating. A chance meeting can result in your life path taking a 90 degree turn you never imagined making. Reading her books leaves you somewhere between wanting to be her and wanting to be her best friend.
As with Frances Mayes, I have read all of Marlena di Blasi’s books, multiple times. There always seems to be one of them living on my nightstand.
Did you watch LA Law? Back in the day it was my favorite show. Actor Michael Tucker (Stuart Markowitz on the show) and his wife Jill Eikenberry also live my Italian dream, theirs in a home they have renovated in Umbria. Tucker is endlessly funny and charming, and his book is delightful.
I found this book when I returned home from Sicily and just couldn’t get that bewitching island out of my mind.
Phelps inherited a majestic home on the hill in Taormina, with a view that honestly just takes your breath away.
This the captivating story of her life, leaving dreary old England to go live in this magnificent house, Casa Cuseni. It is the story of the artists and writers who took up residence there over the years, (including Tennessee Williams, Henry Faulkner and Roald Dahl) and of the local characters who populated her world.
Last year I visited Casa Cuseni when I was back in Taormina. I was able to see the Picasso, painted there and then left behind after his stay at Daphne’s home, treasures left behind by writers and artisti, even Daphne’s old passports and papers. It was just fantastic.
at Casa Cuseni in Taormina. Every inch of this house, both inside and out, is just wonderful
Michael is an American lawyer who’s wife is an artist. They moved to a teeny tiny town named Sutri, famous for being the birthplace of Pontius Pilate, where Michael set up shop with his laptop outside one of the cafe’s in the main piazza and observed the locals in all their glory, while his wife worked on her art.
Rips is absolutely one of the funniest writers ever, and from what the locals told me was great fun to be around.
I went to Sutri a couple of years ago because I was so intrigued with this book and just had to experience this place. We rented a 1000 year old tower renovated by two writers and made into an exquisitely appointed apartment. Writers come live in the tower for 6 to 12 months at a time, penning all manner of important works while taking in the unbelievable views and enjoying the tranquility of a tiny, non touristy town.
prosecco o’clock in the piazza ~ writing in Sutri
Sutri is not on any tourist map, and I think we were the only non Sutrisi there. Pasquale’s Nose hasn’t been translated into Italian, and I was only the second person the locals had met who had read the book. It was particularly wonderful because thanks to Rips I had a town full of instant friends – word gets around tiny places fast!
Pasquale’s Nose is hilarious and well worth reading.
This book came to me when the author went to speak and do a signing at my Italian group here in Phoenix. I, of course, was working and missed it, but one of my friends picked me up a copy.
When Pohlman’s marriage was collapsing, she and her husband packed up their kids and their life in Orange County and moved to Liguria for a year. As much a testament to how destructive our manic, fast paced life stateside can be, this book is a wonderful example of how a sidestep into the Italian lifestyle can be healing and calming and put everything back into perspective. The year that the Pohlman’s spend in Italy resets their compass, brings the family back together and breathes life back into a broken marriage.
I loved how tangible this story was. The Pohlman’s now live in Arizona.
Broken after her husband of one year leaves her for an old high school flame, Fraser travels to Italy to see old friends and get a change of scenery. One of her friends tells her to go to Ischia for a few days, where she meets a Parisian professor an embarks upon an affair that lasts for years and takes place in exotic locales from Ischia to Marrakesh, Lake Maggiore to Catalina Island.
Every female who has ever had so much as a random, fleeting thought about having an affair in Italy will love this book.
If you have read any of these books, please share your thoughts about them in the comments section below! I also want to know any other books set in Italy that you may have read, so please tell me about them in the comments section. Grazie!
Are you going to the market in the Italian town of Arezzo? Or any other lovely little town in Italy?
Here is one of my favorite posts from a couple of years ago. I’m planning my wardrobe for this year’s summer in Italy, and my old blog posts have been a fun place to start!
What’s A Girl To Wear To The Market In Arezzo?
Every Saturday and Sunday in the Tuscan town of Arezzo the streets and piazzas become one of the most intriguing markets you will ever have the good fortune to visit.
(I so wanted the Red Lady lamp, but couldn’t figure out how on earth to get her home??)
Largely about furniture and housewears, exquisite laces and linens, the Arezzo market is not to be missed if you’re in Tuscany on a weekend. If for nothing else, you’ll see treasures long hidden in the attics of the giant old Tuscan homes. Just touching some of the pieces you’ll feel the history of generations flow through your fingers.
Its also Italy. This means a girl can’t show up dressed as if for the Camden or Portobello markets in London, or the Rose Bowl market in Pasadena. There’s a whole different dress code here, and its nothing short of fabulous.
Armed with my camera, I stalked the fashionistas meandering through the stalls, just to show you how killer cool and glam they really are. Fashion statements aren’t necessarily about the current trends, but more of how a girl carries herself and presents herself to the world, with her own personal flair and elan.
Before we see the outfits, its important to check out the terrain.
Its all uphill and downhill, on flagstones, cobbles and pavers, uneven, textured, and at times steep.
This lady had it going on! I loved her red jacket. The gloves were the perfect finishing touch. Notice the hairdo – nicely cut and colored. These Italiana’s don’t miss a single gorgeous detail. Slim, belted, co-ordinated.
another peep at the family
I just loved this lady! We saw her everywhere, all morning. Looking like a million dollars, working those shoes!! She still looked like perfection at the of market end too, not just first thing in the morning.
Prada-rama. I loved her coat too. She had magnificent glasses on as well, but I couldn’t get a clean shot without blowing my tourista cover. God knows I tried…
Burberry! A break in the Prada/Louis action – quite refreshing. Check out how totally put together this couple is. Age provides no barrier, gives no demarcation. They’re all just damn fab.
Skinny jeans worn with heels, a trench, fab hair, and accessorized with a cyclist. Think he’s wearing a cod piece?
I love those nude heels!! Check out the height and cut of them! She’s damn fabulous, and she knows it. Its part of the air she breathes. Although I do consider myself to be an Olympic high heeler, even I couldn’t cut it around the market all morning, up and down the hills in these.
And these are her Sunday morning market shoes?? I need a new goal…
Sexy girl heels. Are you seeing how high they are??? Remember the terrain (see above) And sexy Italiana that she is, she saunters and glides with ease, as if she were wearing flats. Can’t you feel her gait through this picture?Its as if she were born wearing them. I just loved her!
I just had to get you a close up on the height. She is my hero(ine) The pants were very cool too.
She eats! Italian girls don’t do the lettuce leaf, black coffee and manic hours of aerobics with a 5 mile run routine. They eat. Heartily. And are so present in their lives, and in the pleasure of life.
They are sensational.
And what did we wear?
Pictured here in the piazza with the lovely Michelle, jewelry designer at Divinity Jewelry, in jeans and boots, a turquoise trench and a beige pashmina, and the ever present aviators 🙂