5 Classic Films to Inspire Your Next Italy Vacation

Writer and director Anthony Minghella’s psychological thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley depicts late ’60s period Italy in all its stylish glory. While the cult classic is undoubtedly A-list—with Matt Damon as chameleon Tom Ripley, Jude Law (Dickie), Gwyneth Paltrow (Marge), Cate Blanchett (Meredith), and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman (Freddie)—Italy is the real old. Venice, Rome, Naples, and Anzio (which doubles as San Remo) enjoy their time in the cinematic spotlight. Rome’s Piazza Navona, the Spanish Steps, and Piazza di Spagna are prominent locations, as is Caffè Florian in Venice, where Marge sports a chic leopard coat and pillbox hat. Opened in 1720, it is the oldest café in Europe. Built by Italian architects Giuseppe Ponga and Cesare Rota, the famous coffee house features work by 19th-century artists, red velvet banquettes, gold-leaf walls, and marble furnishings.

The colorful island of Procida in the Amalfi Coast’s Bay of Naples is the location for the fictional fishing village Mongibello (filmed in the real-life village of Corricella), where Dickie and Marge reside. What the tiny island lacks in size, it makes up for in culture. Named Italy’s Capital of Culture for 2022, the 17th-century fisherman’s outpost turned tourist spot is a lesson in traditions and moving at a slower pace. Scenic beaches such as Pozzo Vecchio, classic bakeries, and boutiques filled with local crafts await, and in the background of many shots, the picturesque Castello Aragonese visibly rises out of the water next to the nearby island of Ischia. Eagle-eyed cinephiles will recognize Procida from the 1994 Oscar-nominated Il Postino.

A Room with a View (1985)

Julian Sands and Helena Bonham Carter in the 1985 film A Room With a View.

©Cinecom Pictures/Everett Colle/Everett Collection

The Renaissance capital city of Florence takes center stage in Merchant-Ivory’s A Room with a View. Based on EM Forster’s 1908 romance novel, the story tells the tale of a young woman, Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter), who travels to Italy during the repressed Edwardian era. Set against the panoramic views of the Arno River and the Ponte Vecchio, much of the film centers around her time at the fictitious Pensione Bertolini, which is now the Hotel degli Orafi (and formerly the Quisisana e Ponte Vecchio). Located in the heart of Florence, the 12th-century property was formerly an Augustinian convent and boarding house. With its original frescoes, classical interiors, and views of the Arno, it’s no wonder A Room with a View won an Oscar for art direction in 1986.

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