Famous Movies Set in Italy

, , Leave a comment


Italy is a fascinating destination for many people whether the ancient streets and ruins of its capital Rome, whether on pilgrimage to Vatican City – the country within a city, or to its lush mountains of the north or the green countryside of Tuscany, it has something for everyone. No wonder then it is the setting for so many films.

1. Gladiator

Though it takes place in many parts of the Roman Empire and its borders, for the most part the film is set in Rome. General Maximus is betrayed by Emperor Commodus and becomes a slave, working his way up from gladiator in the eastern provinces before being taken to Rome to fight in the Coliseum. There, Commodus discovers that Maximus is still alive and the two are involved in a battle of wits before they kill each other in the arena. Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix star

2. Casino Royale

Like any Bond film, it is not limited to one town or city, or even one country for that matter. Casino Royale starts off in Madagascar, moves to the Bahamas and then onto Montenegro where he meets Vesper Lynd. Gradually, the two fall in love and travel to Italy upon which Bond resigns. Yet his suspicions are raised when he follows her out of the hotel in Venice to see her handing over some money. This is where the final showdown takes place and Lynd dies, beneath a collapsing building of Venice’s canals

3. The English Patient

1996 the english patient 1
This WWII period piece is set during the last days of the Italian Campaign, it centres on a Canadian nurse in an Italian monastery who finds herself caring for a badly burnt man. She knows nothing of him except that he speaks English and is refusing to say anything else. Set almost entirely in the monastery (except for flashbacks) his story is slowly revealed when an operative from Canadian Intelligence arrives, determined to find out the patient’s identity

4. The Italian Job

The most famous heist film of all time before Reservoir Dogs, it features Michael Caine delivering a few iconic phrases including ‘you were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!’ as they make their way around the city of Turin, desperate to steal the gold and then make it safely over the border into Switzerland. Not only are the police chasing them, but so are the mafia who killed a friend of Croker many years before. In the final scene, their bus is teetering over the edge of a cliff as the gold slips to the back of the bus

5. Life is Beautiful

Returning to the war years, this heart-warming piece is about Guido and his young son. As Italian Jews they are facing increased hostility: Guido is attacked, his horse vandalised and eventually the pair is sent to a concentration camp. The story starts years before the war in Italy so to get a sense of the growing unrest. Once in the camp, Guido doesn’t want his son to be scared so makes light of the situation by pretending the hardship is to win a special prize. In the film’s best scene, he mistranslates the German guard as telling the children ‘never to ask for lollipops or cry for their mothers’ or they will lose points

6. The Pink Panther

Peter Sellers was a comedy actor icon of the 1960s and this is his most famous film playing the bungling Jacques Clouseau arriving in Italy looking for two diamond thieves both on the trail of the famous Pink Panther. Comedy capers ensue around the Italian Alpine town of Cortina d’Ampezzo. Despite being a comedy, it is an intriguing thriller and results in Clouseau being framed as ‘The Phantom’ but released a year later. A number of films followed, including a reboot starring Steve Martin in 2006

7. A Room With A View

The Merchant Ivory production is about two upper class English girls who have led the traditional stoic ‘stiff upper lip’ life expected of them, who are on a family holiday in Italy where they are introduced to a more relaxed way of living. They meet two English men who have been living in Italy for many years and find their care-free attitude as strange as they resist it. The film represents and demonstrates the end of the stoicism that had come to represent Victorian ideas of how people ought to act

8. The Pope Must Die

Original Cinema Quad Poster - Movie Film Posters
The controversial comedy stars Robbie Coltrane as a small-town priest in Scotland accidentally elected to the position of Pope when the clerk of the conclave mishears the name being read out. This creates problems as the mafia had pressured one of the Cardinals to influence the votes for their man. Coltrane ‘ who is a hard-living, drinking, rock star of a priest travels to Italy to take up his new position and soon realises that his life is in danger. At the same time, he uncovers corruption with the Vatican

9. Angels and Demons

Based on the book by Dan Brown, this prequel to The Da Vinci Code is set across Rome and Vatican City as protagonist Robert Langdon attempts to stop the Illuminati from destroying Vatican City with an apparent newly-invented anti-matter weapon. Langdon and the daughter of the murdered man travel around the city trying to stop the weapon and allow the conclave to take place. In the end it is revealed that there is no Illuminati conspiracy, but a plot invented by the Camerlengo to forge sympathy for the church and to have himself elected as Pope

10. Pompeii

Due to be released later in 2014, this disaster action movie is based on the last days of the city of the same name when it ‘ along with Herculaneum ‘ is destroyed by the eruption of the enormous volcano Vesuvius. It focuses on a Briton who is sent to the city as a captured slave and follows him as he learns to be a gladiator and falls in love with a Roman woman. Meanwhile, the mountain is starting to smoke and smoulder


Italy’s romantic setting, its grand history, high culture, sunshine and Mediterranean lifestyle has attracted people for many years and will continue to delight writers and inspire film makers. This is only the tip of the iceberg and Italy itself has a celebrated film industry of its own

Tea Time Quiz

[forminator_poll id="23176"]

Leave a Reply