32 of the Best Italian Movies & Films Set in Italy You Need to Watch

This list of the best Italian movies and films set in Italy is based on the films I have enjoyed watching the most.

All of these 30 interesting films are great in their own way. Many of them can be watched over and over again which to me is reserved for the best films, however there are also excellent films that will stay with you forever from only one viewing so you only need to see them once.

I’m confident many of these films with Italian themes shown here would satisfy even the most hardened cinema critic.

At the end of this post I also list movies related to Italy that I’m still hoping to watch one day, plus a list of Italian movies & films set in Italy that I didn’t like for some particular reason.

Keep in mind that even the films I didn’t like that much doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy watching them. Some of the better known movie titles have plenty of fans out there and no doubt many would disagree with my opinions.

For now though, I consider these to be the top films set in Italy until I discover more great movies. I’ll update this list when something else pops up and I’m inspired to do so.

1. Where Am I Going? (2016) – Best Italian Movies

Italian Movie Title: Quo Vado? [Romantic Comedy] [English subtitles]

An Italian public servant is put under constant pressure by his boss to resign from his cushy Government position and pay, though he resists at all costs no matter where they send him.

Best Italian Movies Where Am I Going 2016 Quo Vado

This Medusa Film production is one of the highest-grossing Italian films of all time. The movie has even held the number one spot in Italy for highest box office takings, but no doubt it will eventually be beaten one day.

Checco Zalone, the star of the film has appeared in several other very successful Italian movies, which have also become some of the highest-grossing Italian films ever made.

There are plenty of laughs to be had in Quo Vado? I personally think it has to be one of the funniest Italian movies of all time.

The restaurant scene shown above is an absolute classic as is the funny Norwegian accent scene, which will probably make you laugh.

The beauty about this movie is that it combines Italy with Norway in a unique film experience that will surprise you in almost every scene. It’s a superb comedy travel movie.

Movie locations: Italy and Norway

Italian movie rating (my own): 8/10

2. Suburra (2015)

[Crime, Thriller] [English subtitles]

A complex tale involving political corruption, loan sharks, mafia rackets and revenge.

Suburra 2015 Italian Movie

This movie packs a big punch! It’s easily one of the best Italian movies I have ever seen.

Interesting facts: The scene above shows a bust of Apollo, the God of light in front of a cross for some reason. Suburra was the name of a suburb of Ancient Rome. A highly rated TV series based on the movie began 2017 and lasted for 2 seasons.

Movie location: Around Rome

Italian movie rating (my own): 9/10

3. Palio (2015)

[Documentary] [English subtitles]

A new kid on the block tries to win a famous horse race in Siena.

Palio 2015 Documentary

I’m not into horse racing at all but I still found this Italian documentary style film really fascinating to watch.

Trip Inspiration: Italian city of Siena

Italian movie rating (my own): 7/10

4. Letters to Juliet (2010) – Best Films Set in Italy

[Romantic Comedy/Drama]

An American girl on vacation in Italy tries to find two lovers forever linked by a love letter.

Letters to Juliet 2010

I like this film for one big reason and that’s because Amanda Seyfried, the star of Letters to Juliet also plays Sophie in the Greek island movie Mamma Mia! Need I say more.

Movie locations around Italy: Verona, Tuscany

Movie rating (my own): 7/10

5. Welcome to the South (2010) – Best Italian Movies

Italian Movie Title: Benvenuti al sud [Comedy] [English subtitles]

A postal worker from Milan gets transferred to the southern side of Italy which happens to be his worst nightmare until he learns to adapt to the southern ways.

Welcome to the South 2010 Best Italian Movies

A very entertaining movie. Love the actress Valentina Lodovini who plays Maria.

Interesting fact: This movie was based on a French movie Welcome to the Sticks (2008) (French title: Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis) which has a similar plot. Dany Boon who starred in the French movie has a cameo as a French tourist in the post office in this very enjoyable Italian movie.

Trip Inspiration: Southern Italy and Milan

Italian movie rating (my own): 7/10

6. Respiro (2002) – Best Italian Films

[Drama] [English subtitles]

I don’t want to spoil this great movie for you in anyway. It’s best watched by knowing hardly anything about it.

Best Italian Films Respiro 2002

A very artsy movie that is unbelievably unique.

Movie setting: Lampedusa, one of the Pelagie Islands (from the Greek name Pelaghiè – Islands of the high seas) in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily.

Italian movie rating (my own): 7/10

7. Pinocchio (2002) – Best Italian Movies

[Fantasy] [English subtitles]

This movie is a classic! I love it and some of you are probably thinking I’m crazy to include this movie in this list of best Italian films but I really like it. I’m not lying to you, I’ve seen it at least 5 times!

Just make sure you watch it with Italian subtitles. It’s unwatchable in my opinion if you watch the English dubbed version. I absolutely hate that version but I love the Italian language version.

Pinocchio 2002 Film Made in Italy

One thing to remember, this isn’t a family movie even though it was meant to be one. Don’t be tempted to show any young kids this film because I’m pretty sure many of them will get nightmares from it. Some would also end up crying because does get sad at one point. I think I may have even shed a tear the first time I watched it.

This version of Pinocchio is more suited for adults who still enjoy watching extremely imaginative fantasy movies which seems to be hardly anyone these days going by the number of bad reviews received.

To me it’s almost like the cult movie Xanadu, you’ll either love it or hate it.

Interesting fact: The film directed by and starring Roberto Benigni was so panned by film critics that he obviously decided to appear in another Italian film about Pinocchio in 2019 to try and redeem himself, however he didn’t direct the newer film. I need to watch this later Pinocchio film to see how it compares with this masterpiece from 2002 but I can’t see how it could be better than this one.

Italian movie rating (my own): 8/10

8. Malena (2000) – Best Italian Movies

[Romance/War] [English subtitles]

A young boy becomes infatuated with a stunning Italian woman played by the beautiful Monica Bellucci, during the tensions of a war climate.

Malena 2000 Romance War Movie set in Italy

This scene is a standout.

Movie locations around Italy: Sicily

Italian movie rating (my own): 7/10

9. Gladiator (2000) – Best Films Set in Italy

[Action, Adventure]

A noble turned gladiator must fight to regain his freedom and honour.

Gladiator 2000 Best Films set in Italy

One of the best movies set in Italy and more precisely ancient Rome. I can watch this movie over and over again.

Trip Inspiration: Rome (Colosseum)

My movie rating (my own): 9/10

10. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) – Movies Set in Italy

[Thriller, Drama]

A young man from America named Tom Ripley gets the taste of the good life in Italy during the 1950s, which leads him to take whatever drastic action is required to continue living the extravagant lifestyle he so desperately desires.

The Talented Mr Ripley 1999

You won’t easily forget this very memorable movie after you’ve seen it. It’s probably not greatest movie for repeat viewing simply because the whole movie will be ingrained into you’re memory bank forever. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed watching the film.

Trip Inspiration: Islands of Ischia and Procida

Movie rating (my own): 8/10

11. Tea with Mussolini (1999) – Best Italian Movies

[Drama]

A group of English women who have based themselves in Florence find that their safety is no longer assured with the rise in power of Mussolini.

Tea with Mussolini 1999

I never realised that Aphrodite (Venus), the Goddess of love and Eros (Cupid), the God of love could be found in this spot inside the Uffizi Gallery. This movie scene seems to offer hidden symbolic meaning.

Venus Aphrodite and Cupid Eros in Florence Museum

Tea with Mussolini sounded so boring initially but I was so wrong. I highly recommend this film especially if you have a strong interest in the historical side of Italy. It’s another very memorable movie to watch.

Cher provides a great performance as a troubled Jew in this very moving film as do all the cast.

Trip Inspiration: Piazza Cisterna in San Gimignano, Florence

Movie rating (my own): 7/10

12. Life is Beautiful (1997) – Best Italian Movies

Italian Movie Title: La vita è bella [War, Comedy, Romance] [English subtitles]

An outgoing Jewish guy falls in love, has a family, and later plays an incredible make-believe game in order to shelter his young son from the hellhole of a concentration camp.

Life is Beautiful 1997 Best Italian Movies

What a great movie this is. It’s absolute genius!

Italian movie rating (my own): 9/10

13. The Postman (1994) – Best Italian Movies

Italian movie title: Il Postino [Biography, Romance, Comedy] [English subtitles]

A postman desires to woo a beautiful woman with poetry so he asks a famous poet staying on the same island for some much needed advice.

Il Postino The Postman 1994

If any movie has ever been made to resemble a poem then this is the one. The movie is absolute perfection. You really do need to watch this film if you haven’t seen it before. One of my favourite movies of all time.

Interesting fact: Sadly the Italian actor and director Massimo Troisi (above) died in 1994 of heart failure shortly after the main filming on Il Postino had been completed.

Trip Inspiration: Salina (one of the Aeolian Islands north of Sicily)

Italian movie rating (my own): 9.5/10

14. Only You (1994) – Best Films Set in Italy

[Romance, Comedy]

A fortune teller predicts the name of a young woman’s future partner who then seeks him out in Italy.

Only You 1994 Movie Scene

Marisa Tomei is a Goddess in this movie. This would have to be one of the best rom-com movies set in Italy ever made. It made me want to visit the Amalfi Coast.

Trip Inspiration: Amalfi Coast

Movie rating (my own): 7.5/10

15. Enchanted April (1992) – Best Films Set in Italy

[Drama, Romance]

Four English women dream of staying in an Italian villa in Italy so that they can escape from their unsatisfied lives and the dreary English weather.

Enchanted April Best Films set in Italy

If I were living in England and I saw this movie I’d be me packing my bags for Italy in no time.

Interesting fact: The film was shot on location at Castello Brown in Portofino, Italy. This is the same castle where the author of the book stayed in the 1920s.

Trip Inspiration: Portofino, Italy

Movie rating (my own): 6.5/10

16. Mediterraneo (1991) – Best Italian Films

[Comedy, War] [English subtitles]

A group of Italian soldiers are stationed on a remote Greek island where they have time on their hands.

Mediterraneo 1991 Best Italian Oscar Winning Film

A very enjoyable film with a great ending.

Trip Inspiration: Kastellórizo, in the Dodecanese island group

Italian movie rating (my own): 8/10

17. Cinema Paradiso (1988) – Best Italian Movies

[Drama] [English subtitles]

A famous film director in Rome reminisces about his love of cinema and his deep friendship with the cinema projectionist from the small Sicilian village where he grew up.

Best Italian Movies Cinema Paradiso

One of the best Italian movies you could ever hope to see.

Trip Inspiration: Sicily

Movie rating (my own): 8/10

18. Ladyhawke (1985) – Best Films Set in Italy

[Fantasy, Adventure]

Two lovers are cursed which stops both of them from spending time together in human physical form.

Ladyhawke Movie

This film will stay with you forever.

Trip Inspiration: Dolomite mountain range in Italy including the Torrechiara Castle near Palma in the Emilia Romagna region, the Rocca Sforzesca in Soncino, Soncino castle near Cremona, Rocca di Calascio near L’Aquila, and Castell’Arquato near Piacenza.

Movie rating (my own): 8/10

19. Swept Away (1974) – Best Italian Movies

Italian Movie Title: Travolti da un insolito destino nell’azzurro mare d’agosto

[Drama, Romance, Comedy] [English subtitles]

A man and woman from totally different backgrounds find themselves stranded on a deserted island in the Mediterranean sea.

Best Italian Movies Swept Away 1974 Movie

Ask yourself this: What would be the relationship dynamics be if an extremely rich Italian wife found herself stranded on a remote deserted island with an ordinary married guy from southern Italy? Do you think they’d get together?

This movie is a masterpiece. Forget about Madonna’s terrible remake of this film and watch the original, it’s a classic!

Interesting fact: The Italian actress Mariangela Melato who played Raffaella Pavone Lanzetti in Swept Away, also starred in the classic sci-fi adventure movie Flash Gordon in 1980 as the villainess General Kala. Here’s a classic line from Flash Gordon: “General Kala, Flash Gordon approaching”. If you love the movie Flash Gordon you can just about hear her say it.

Trip Inspiration: Sardinia

Movie rating (my own): 8.5/10

20. Don’t Look Now (1973) – Best Movies Set in Italy

[Thriller, Horror]

A married couple move to Venice for work and as an escape after suffering a family tragedy. During their stay they get mixed up with a psychic warning them of imminent danger.

Movies set in Italy Venice Dont Look Now 1973

This movie is quite suspenseful and will have you thinking throughout the movie about where it is going. I would have never predicted the ending.

Interesting fact: The sex scene in this movie is very different.

Trip Inspiration: Venice

Movie rating (my own): 7/10

21. The Godfather (1972) 

[Crime, Drama]

The reluctant son of a Mafia boss takes over the reigns of the family’s criminal empire.

The Godfather 1972

I could include quite a few Mafia films in this list of best Italian movies and films set in Italy but I have to limit it.

I can’t glamorise the Mafia too much even though I do have a dedicated post talking about the best Mafia and gang related movies and TV shows.

Trip Inspiration: Sicily

Movie rating (my own): 9/10

22. The Way of The Dragon (1972) – Films Set in Italy

[Action]

Bruce Lee fights Chuck Norris in the Colosseum.

The Way of the Dragon 1972 Movie set in Italy

Had to include this film because the fight scene in the Colosseum at the end of the movie is bloody awesome!!!

Trip Inspiration: Rome (Colosseum)

Movie rating (my own): 6.5/10

23. The Italian Job (1969) – Best Films Set in Italy

[Action, Crime, Comedy]

A group of English thieves come up with a clever gold heist within Italy from under the eyes of the Mafia.

The Italian Job Films set in Italy

Politically incorrect in so many ways, it’s no wonder The Italian Job has disappeared from the TV screens as feminist groups would be outraged!

The Italian Job

Trip Inspiration: Turin

Movie rating (my own): 6.5/10

24. Romeo and Juliet (1968) – Best Italian Movies

[Romance, Drama] [English subtitles]

A young couple experiences forbidden love because they come from rival families in historic Verona.

Romeo and Juliet 1968

This is my favourite movie about the Romeo and Juliet love story.

Interesting fact: Romeo + Juliet (1996) with Leonardo DeCaprio is another great movie to watch but this one was never filmed in Italy.

Trip Inspiration: Verona

Movie rating (my own): 7/10

25. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1966) 

[Western, Adventure]

A gold treasure hunt during the American civil war leads to a face-off between the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good The Bad and The Ugly Movie

This 1966 Italian epic spaghetti western directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood is easily one of the best Italian made movies of all time.

Ok, technically it is not set in Italy, but I don’t care. It’s a classic Italian spaghetti western! If you only ever watch one western film in your lifetime, make it this one.

Movie rating (my own): 9/10

26. Contempt (1963) – Best Films Set in Italy

French Movie Title: Le mépris [Drama, Romance]

I’m still wondering what this movie directed by Jean-Luc Godard is truly about. It seems as though Contempt blurs the line between myth (The Odyssey) and reality on the Italian island of Capri.

Movies set in Italy Contempt 1963

Interesting fact: It stars Brigitte Bardot, one of the best known sex symbols of the 1950s and 1960s.

Trip Inspiration: The island of Capri (off the Amalfi Coast)

Movie rating (my own): 6/10

27. Romulus and Remus (1961) – Best Italian Movies

Italian Movie Title: Romolo e Remo in Italian [Action, Adventure]

Romulus and Remus also known as Duel of the Titans is a 1961 Italian production starring Steve Reeves. It’s the story of Romulus and Remus, the mythical founders of Rome.

Rhea Silvia, a mortal, has two twin babies fathered by the God Mars and so abandons them on a river by placing them in a basket to float away. They’re both found by a she-wolf who nurtures them. Later a shepherd discovers them and raises both children as his own. The twin brothers eventually go on to lead a group of men that want to eliminate two cruel kings: king Amulias and king Nemulias who are the kings of the Sabines.

Romulus and Remus 1961 Movie

Trip Inspiration: Italy

Movie rating (my own): 6/10

28. Hercules (1958) – Best Italian Movies

[Adventure, Fantasy]

Hercules sets sail for the legendary Golden Fleece among other things.

Hercules 1958 Movie scene

This is one of the best peplum movies of all time. Who could ever forget the climactic ending of this extravagent sword and sandal movie?

Interesting fact: One of the best known peplum movies otherwise known as sword and sandal movies that were very popular from the mid 1950s to the mid 1960s.

Trip Inspiration: Greece and Italy

Movie rating (my own): 6.5/10

29. La Strada (1954) – Best Italian Movies

Translated Movie Title: The Road [Drama] [English subtitles]

The brutal life of a circus performer on the road is on show.

Best Italian Movies La Strada 1954

If you only watch one Fellini film in your life then this is the one I’d highly recommend.

Trip Inspiration: Italy

Movie rating (my own): 7.5/10

30. Ulysses (1954) 

[Adventure]

After the Trojan war ends Odysseus (Ulysses: in Latin) tries to make his way home to Ithaca against great odds after angering Poseidon, the God of the sea.

Ulysses 1954 Best Italian Movies

This is one of those movies based on Greek and Roman Mythology you need to watch.

Trip Inspiration: The Mediterranean

Movie rating (my own): 8/10

31. Roman Holiday (1953)

[Romance]

A princess tired of public duties and comfortable arrangements tries to get some alone time in Rome under the pretence of being an ordinary person.

Roman Holiday 1953 Movie Scene

Roman Holiday is a bit slow moving at the start but as soon as the princess starts exploring Rome the story really takes off. I was surprised to find that I really liked the film in the end.

Trip Inspiration: Rome

Movie rating (my own): 6.5/10

32. Bicycle Thieves (1948) – Best Italian Movies

Italian Movie Title: Ladri di biciclette [Drama] [English subtitles]

Bicycle Thieves (aka The Bicycle Thief) is about a man who tries to find his bike after it has been stolen so that he can make a measly living and take care of his family.

Bicycle Thieves 1948

I can really relate to this movie because as a kid I had my bike stolen and it was gut wrenching.

This movie is an absolute masterpiece even though at times it may make you feel like turning it off due to its very bleak outlook on life in post-World War II Rome.

Stick with it and I’m sure you’ll be very glad to have seen this classic Italian story.

Interesting fact: Bicycle Thieves received an Academy Honorary Award (most outstanding foreign language film) in 1950.

Trip Inspiration: Rome

Movie rating (my own): 7/10

Not the best Italian movies and films set in Italy (in my opinion) but still worth watching

These movies are still good enough to watch at least once even though a few of them are forgettable.

Murder Mystery (2019) (Comedy, Mystery) – Starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston
The Great Beauty (2013)
The Best Offer (2013) – Enjoyed watching this very mysterious film.
The Immature (2011) – I discuss this movie when talking about the sequel to it in a post about movies made in the Greek Islands, even though this film was set in Italy.
When in Rome (2010) – One of my favourites.
Room in Rome (2010) – Interesting!
Loose Cannons (2010) – I was about to turn it off but so glad I didn’t.
Genova (2008) – Nearly made it into the main list of best Italian movies and films set in Italy.
Bread and Tulips (Pane e Tulipani) (2000) – A very enjoyable romance movie.
A Good Woman (2006) – Italy locations: Amalfi, Atrani, Ravello, Sorrento, and Rome
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) – Just to see Villa Balbianello in Lake Como, Italy. Makes you want to go there yourself.
Stealing Beauty (1996) – I like Enchanted April better than this movie for some reason.
The Working Class Goes to Heaven (La classe operaia va in paradiso) (1971)

Italian Movies and Films set in Italy (I want to see)

I still hope to watch a few of these movies one day. If I watch a movie and really like it I’ll move it up higher in this list of best Italian movies and films set in Italy.

In Search of Fellini (2017)
Inferno (2016) – The third movie based on the novels by Dan Brown.
All Roads Lead to Rome (2015) – Stars Sarah Jessica Parker from Sex in the City.
Tutta Colpa di Freud (2014) (Comedy)
I Can Quit Whenever I Want (Smetto quando voglio) (2014)
The Trip to Italy (2014) – Two men enjoy six scenic meals in Italy from Piedmont to Capri, as well as Liguria, Tuscany, Rome, and Amalfi.
Romeo and Juliet (2013)
The Mafia Only Kills in Summer (La mafia uccide solo d’estate) (2013)
Angels & Demons (2009)
Shadows in the Sun (2005)
Manuale D’Amore (The Manual of Love) (2005) – So popular that two more sequels were made.
Shadows in the Sun (aka The Shadow Dancer) (2005) – Set in Tuscany.
Ocean’s Twelve (2004) – Filmed at Villa Erba in Cernobbio and Villa Oleandra in Laglio.
I’m Not Scared (2003)

Italian Movies and Films set in Italy (I want to see) – Made prior to 2000

Caro Diario (1993) – A Vespa rider sees Rome and holidays in the Aeolian Islands where he travels from Lipari to Salina and also Stromboli, and finally to Alicudi.
Portrait of a Lady (1996)
A Month by the Lake (1995) – Lake Como.
Dear Diary (Caro diario) (1993)
Kaos (1984) – Filmed in Sicily and the island of Lipari.
Segni particolari: bellissimo (1983)
Hector the Mighty (Ettore lo fusto) (1972) – A loosely based parody of Homer’s Iliad set in modern times.
The Devil in Love (1966) – The devil comes down to earth to stop the marriage of an aristocrat and a Spanish woman in Florence. Sounds interesting!
It Started in Naples (1963)
The Leopard (1963)
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963)
L’Avventura (1960) – Takes place at an incredible baroque Villa Palagonia near Palermo and the volcanic rock Aeolian island of Panarea.
La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life) (1960) – I do remember the famous Trevi fountain scene in Rome but apart from that not much else. I need to see it again.
Purple Noon (1960) – Both this movie and The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) were based on the same book.
Three Coins in a Fountain (1954)
Beat the Devil (1954) – Even has a scene at Ravello including Villa Cimbrone and its Terrace of Infinity.

Italian Movies and Films set in Italy (I didn’t like for some reason)

These movies are not to my taste even though they may have many film fans. Either they’re very forgettable or too boring in certain parts of the film for my liking.  Maybe I turned some of them off a bit too early on or maybe I wasn’t in the mood for the film at the time. Whatever the case you may want to check them out for yourself.

Like Crazy (La pazza gioia) (2016) – I didn’t warm to the characters.
A Bigger Splash (2015)
To Rome with Love (2012)
The Tourist (2010)
Eat, Pray, Love (2010)
I am Love (Io sono amore) (2009)
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) – Set in Cortona and Positano.
A Room with a View (1985) – A scene where Lucy faints when witnessing a knife fight between locals is filmed by the Neptune Fountain (Fontana di Nettuno), in Piazza della Signoria. The movie started off good but when they went back to England it nosedived.