Sure, you can read the guidebooks and look at pictures of Italian scenery but nothing sets the mood for your Italian vacation better than watching a film featuring sympathetic characters and stunning Italian landscapes.
In case you need some convincing that you're going to love Italy, here are a few films where the country is featured in a starring role (most of them, obviously, with romantic plots).
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Take a delightful romp around Rome with Audrey Hepburn as a wayward princess and Gregory Peck as a scheming reporter in this 1953 movie set in Rome (filmed in English). Hepburn won her only Academy Award for "Roman Holiday," which was her first-ever starring role. The movie is credited with creating interest in Vespa scooters after Hepburn and Peck shared one on screen.
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Oscar-winning "Cinema Paradiso" is the story of a young Sicilian boy's love for the movies and his friendship with Alfredo, the projectionist at the local theater. It gives you a peek into the Italy of yesterday, with good music and a feeling for impoverished Sicily. You're almost certain to get choked up at the scene near the end when the now-grown-up Salvatore sees what happened to all those kissing scenes edited out of movies over the years.
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While you might not warm up to Mr. Ripley himself, the beautiful Italian scenery is sometimes breathtaking. The movie is a thriller starring Matt Damon that takes place in several parts of Italy, including the Amalfi Coast.
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This "Masterpiece Theater" production of the E.M. Forster turn-of-the-century novel about young lovers Lucy Honeychurch and Gorge Emerson has beautiful scenes of Tuscany. The cinematography has the signature James Ivory/ Ismail Merchant grandeur.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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This 2000 Italian film that tells the tale of the unlikely romance between housewife Rosalba Barletta and maitre'd Fernando Girasole was filmed in Venice, which provides a perfect setting for a couple falling in love.
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"Tea with Mussolini," directed by Franco Zeffirelli, is another Merchant/ Ivory period movie, this time set in Florence during the rise of fascism. The movie centers on a group of British and American women and a young boy living in Florence.
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Roberto Benigni stars in this Oscar-winning film set during World War II, which tells the story of a father who shields his son from the horrors of a concentration camp by pretending it's all a game. While not a traditional romance per se, the love between the father and son in "Life is Beautiful" and the love story of the young boy's parents is very moving.
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See Italy through the eyes of Danes as they meet for Italian lessons at the local community center. At its heart, this is really a film about fulfilling dreams, a nice metaphor for an Italian vacation.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Set in the beautiful Tuscan countryside with magnificent scenery, this 1993 Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson version of the Shakespeare classic will get you in the mood for a trip to Tuscany. It's one of the easier Shakespeare plays to understand, telling the tale of the fiery romance between the saucy Benedick and the headstrong Beatrice.
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