10 Italian movies you need to watch


A lot can be learned about a culture from the movies that are produced in it, and this is especially true when it comes to Italy. Italian movie industry produced many films that are universally acclaimed as masterpieces, and gave birth to directors and actors of great skill and eloquence. Here is a list of Italian movies set in Italy that you need to watch. The unique locations of these movies will make you feel like booking a flight right away.

1. La Dolce Vita (1960)- Federico Fellini:

The film is one of Fellini’s masterpieces and follows Marcello Rubini, a journalist writing for gossip magazines, over seven days and nights on his journey through the “sweet life” of Rome in a fruitless search for love and happiness. I must admit, though, this is not my favourite Fellini’s film, but it is universally known as one of the most important movies ever made, and the first of several acclaimed collaborations between director Federico Fellini and actor Marcello Mastroianni, who came to represent the director’s alter ego.

GENRE: comedy-drama


fellini movie

2. Cinema Paradiso (1988) – Giuseppe Tornatore:

The movie follows  the story of Salvatore, a successuful film-maker that reminisces of his boyhood home in Southern Italy after hearing about the death of his childhood friend Alfredo, the Cinema Paradiso’s projectionist.

GENRE: drama

RUNTIME: 2 h 3 m

cinema paradiso

3. La vita è bella/ Life is beautiful (1997) – Roberto Benigni:

The movie tells the story of Guido Orefice, a Jewish Italian bookshop owner, who employs his fertile imagination to shield his son from the horrors of internment in a Nazi concentration camp.

GENRE: comedy-drama


life is beautiful

4. Io non ho paura/ I’m not scared (2003) – Gabriele Salvatores:

I loved this movie. The story is set during Italy’s “Years of Lead”, a time in the 1970s riddled with terrorism and kidnapping, and follows the story of a nine-year-old boy who discovers a terrible crime committed by his father in his Sicilian town.

GENRE: crime

RUNTIME: 1 h 50 m

io non ho paura

5. Baarìa (2009) – Giuseppe Tornatore:

The film recounts life in the Sicilian town of Bagheria (known as Baarìa in Sicilian), from the 1930s to the 1980s, depicting a Sicilian family across three generations through the eyes of Peppino and Mannina. I found it very hard to follow, but still, it’s a great movie.

GENRE: drama

RUNTIME: 2 h 43 m


6. Benvenuti al Sud / Welcome to the South (2010) – Luca Miniero:

If you want to learn more about the cultural difference between Italian North and South, you must watch this hilarious movie. The film has a sequel called Benvenuti al Nord and it’s a remake of an equally successful French comedy. It follows the story of a postal worker from Northern Italy, who feigns disability to request a transfer to Milan. When he’s unmasked, he is sent to a tiny village near Naples, where he moves alone, scared and full of the typical prejudice about the south.

GENRE: comedy

RUNTIME: 1 h 46 m


7. La Grande Bellezza /The Great Beauty (2013) – Paolo Sorrentino:

This Italian movie follows the life and memories of Jep Gambardella who after his 65th birthday, looks past the nightclubs and parties to find a timeless landscape of absurd beauty.

GENRE: art drama

RUNTIME: 2 h 52 h

the great beauty

8. Il giovane Favoloso / Leopardi (2014) – Mario Martone:

The film tells the story of the short life of the great Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi. He was a noble, born in Recanati, who suffered from unrequited love and physical afflictions.

GENRE; drama

RUNTIME: 2 h 23 m


9. Chiamami col tuo nome / Call me by your name (2017) – Luca Guadagnino:

The movie is set in 1983 in northern Italy, and chronicles the romantic relationship between a 17-year-old, Elio, and Oliver, a 24-year-old graduate-student assistant to Elio’s father, an archaeology professor. 

GENRE: romantic drama

RUNTIME: 2 h 12 m

call me by your name

10. L’Isola delle Rose / Rose Island (2020) – Sidney Sibilia:

This Italian movie is based on the true story of engineer Giorgio Rosa and the Republic of Rose Island, a micronation on a man-made platform in the Adriatic Sea.

GENRE: comedy-drama, true story

RUNTIME: 1 h 57 m

rose island

Did you watch any of these Italian movies?

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

If you liked this articles, you’ll love this one: 10 non-italian movies set in italy.

If your craving for Italia has not been yet satisfied, check this out: Coronavirus: 6 ways to take a virtual trip to Italy.

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