Lose Yourself in Six Favorite Italian Films

Feed Your Love of Italy!

International travel has been severely cut back or sidelined. Most of us have been tethered to our homes during this current crisis. So, we resort to travel through books (see my previous post), television, and movies. That’s why I decided to write this post: to share six of my favorite Italian films. These are NOT Hollywood interpretations of Italian life. These are Italian language movies and I am on a mission to keep building my list since there are many other worthy films that I simply haven’t seen yet. But I think you’ll find this a good start. Hopefully, this list will save you time having to cull through the many choices on your own!

And beef up your command of the Italian language.

What better way to increase your Italian speaking and comprehension skills than being well-entertained in the process? Here’s my strategy: Watch and enjoy any Italian language movie in its entirety with English subtitles. Then watch it again with Italian subtitles. You’ll know the gist of the story already and you can see words and make sense of dialog that you heard on your first pass. When I do this, I use the pause button a lot. It allows me to linger on what I see and make notes for my Italian flashcards. I’ve found this to be an excellent learning method IF you’re at least at an advanced-beginner or intermediate level with regular Italian language studies.

With each movie, you’ll find an Amazon link for either buying the DVD. The link will also take you to less expensive options of renting or downloading it ( through Amazon Prime). You might check Netflix, too, to see if any of these are available in your country. These are such great movies, in my opinion, that you’ll probably want to eventually own in one form or another! Just be certain, if purchasing a DVD, you’re choosing the region option that is compatible with your player!

Favorite Italian Films

La finestra di fronte (Facing Windows)

La finestra di fronte (Facing Windows) is one of my favorite Italian films

Why I love this movie: The movie has compelling romance and mystery that unfold in unexpected ways. Giovanna, while smoking a late-night cigarette in the dark of her kitchen, secretly watches a man (the ever handsome Raul Bova) in the apartment facing hers. An unexpected course of events brings them face-to-face to solve a mystery of an elderly man who is lost, wandering the streets with only snippets of memory of his current life and a past love during World War II.

This film sits atop my list of favorites and it hasn’t yet been knocked from its perch. I’ve watched this Italian movie at least eight-to-ten times. I’m ready to see it again and I can’t see myself ever tiring of it!

Synopsis: “A young working-class wife and mother, Giovanna, has no time for the senile elderly man her husband has rescued from the streets. But as she uncovers the stranger’s secrets, it unlocks a freedom within her heart that she never expected: a freedom that will lead her to the arms of a neighbor she secretly adores, and to fulfillment her husband and family cannot provide.”

Winner of five David di Donatello Awards, including Best Film.

Favorite Italian Films

Pane e tulipani (Bread and Tulips)

Pane e tulipani (Bread and Tulips) is one of my favorite Italian films.

Why I love this movie: This movie sits in second place on my list by only a razor-thin margin. It certainly has its comic elements, but it’s a romance more than anything else. It’s a romance about falling in love with yourself and waking up from a life that has become like sleepwalking versus really living. My heart sings every time I watch this Italian language movie. It’s a potent reminder to not settle for “less than.”

And I love how the movie foreshadows what’s to come when the main character’s wedding ring falls off her finger and into a public toilet at a rest stop.

Synopsis: “Rosalba’s life is about to change. When the busy housewife is accidentally left behind while on vacation with her family, she decides to take a holiday on her own in ravishing Venice. Charmed by the city and her newfound freedom, she extends her stay, finding a job in a flower shop, renting a room from a wistful waiter whom she befriends, and rediscovering her love of playing the accordion. But her solo sojourn does not sit well with her tyrannical husband, who recruits an amateur detective to bring his wife back home. Will Rosalba return to her old life or embrace the exciting possibilities of a new one?”

Winner of nine David di Donatello Awards including Best Picture and Best Leading Actress.

I believe that this movie IS available for view on Netflix in the U.S.

Favorite Italian Films

Il postino (The Postman)

Il postino (The Postman) is one of my favorite Italian films

Why I love this movie: You’re probably saying “DUH!” because this is such a beloved classic.  Il postino is an improbable love story set and filmed on the small island of Procida in the Gulf of Naples. Prepare yourself to be drawn in and pulling for a simple man with an open heart as he longs for the affections of a beautiful local woman.

An important note: Massimo Troisi, the male lead in this movie, brings a vulnerability to the role that possibly was a reflection of a worsening heart condition. In fact, Troisi died one day after principal photography wrapped.

Synopsis: “Mario is a bumbling mailman who’s madly in love with the most beautiful woman in town…and who’s too shy to tell her how he feels. But when a world-famous poet—Pablo Neruda—unexpectedly moves into town, Mario is inspired. With Neruda’s help, he finds the right words to win the woman’s heart! This unforgettably funny comedy proves that passion…with some artful deception…can win the most improbable love!”

Winner of the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture Score.

Favorite Italian Films

La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty)

La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty) is one of my favorite Italian films.

Why I love this movie: It’s sumptuously crafted and filmed. It’s a look into the glitzy Roman life hidden to most of the Eternal City’s visitors. Having had an apartment in Rome for about a year-and-a-half, I often looked up at the pricey apartments and houses in the city center, wondering what life was like behind those walls. This isn’t a comfortable movie and, if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself despising some of the characters and what you see going on. But this is another important window into modern-day Italy and life in Rome.

Synopsis: “For decades, journalist Jep Gambardella has charmed and seduced his way through the glittering nightlife of Rome. Since the legendary success of his only novel, he has been a permanent fixture in the city’s literary and elite social circles. But on this sixty-fifth birthday, Jep unexpectedly finds himself taking stock of his life, turning his cutting wit on himself and his contemporaries, and looking past the lavish nightclubs, parties, and cafés to find Rome itself, in all its monumental glory” a timeless landscape of absurd, exquisite beauty.”

Winner of the Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.

Favorite Italian Films

Ricordati di me (Remember Me, My Love)

Rocordati di me (Remember Me, My Love) is one of my favorite Italian films

Why I love this movie: I particularly am enamored with this movie because it has zero Hollywood influence or flavor. Nothing is easy or wrapped up to satisfy test audiences. Life is messy and this movie shows how an entire family can sleepwalk their way into being lost to themselves and each other. It showcases how many Italians fight and love so vocally and viscerally. These people are desperately searching for grounding and for what might re-ignite their best selves. The journey in this movie is bumpy, and don’t expect a tidy landing!

Last, and certainly not least. I adore the lead actress, Laura Morante. We had the good fortune to see her on stage in Venice. AND, this movie features Monica Bellucci, an Umbria native and, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful woman on earth (she was a “mature” Bond girl a few years ago!).

Synopsis: “At first glance, the Ristuccia family is apparently normal and close-knit, but all of its members are hiding something. Carlo, the head of the family, would like to become a writer rather than continue working in an insurance company. Giulia, his wife, is a school teacher who aspires to become an actress. Paolo is an insecure teenager who cannot successfully assert himself in front of girls whom he likes. Valentina desires to become a television showgirl at any cost. This silence is broken when Carlo meets his old love Alessia, with whom he starts an extra-marital affair. As a result, he almost ruins the family balance although Giulia tries to save the marriage.” – Wikipedia

Favorite Italian Films

Il capitale umano (Human Capital)

Il capitale umano (Human Capital) is one of my favorite Italian films

Why I love this movie: When you’re in the wicked mood of wanting to watch privileged treachery and backstabbing, this will fit the bill. And it all centers around a waiter, cycling home and gravely injured in a hit and run. Set in Northern Italy, you’ll see the upper echelon of society plotting to head off disaster and protect themselves at all costs.

Synopsis: “On Christmas Eve, a waiter cycling home from working at a prestigious private school’s gala is hit by a car. The driver flees, leaving the waiter lying in the street badly injured. The waiter is hospitalized and close to death. The next day, two well-known families’ lives are connected by the incident.”

Winner of Seven David di Donatello Awards

By |2020-05-09T11:57:09+02:00May 8th, 2020|Movies|6 Comments

About the Author:

I’m an American expat living in Italy!

6 Comments

  1. Johnny Cigarini May 9, 2020 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    Hi Jed. Have you ever watched The Conformist (Italian: Il conformista?

    • Jed May 10, 2020 at 4:09 pm - Reply

      Ciao Johnny, No, I haven’t, but I’ll be sure to add it to my list (which has grown considerably since I published this post). I hope you are well. We miss you immensely! Jed

  2. Elena May 9, 2020 at 8:16 pm - Reply

    Jed, Thank you so much! Your blog is an invaluable source and a great opportunity to us to stay connected with our beloved Italy.

    • Jed May 10, 2020 at 4:08 pm - Reply

      Ciao Elena, I’m so glad you’re finding value in my blog. I love spreading the word and the love!

  3. Marty May 9, 2020 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    Hi Jed! Always enjoy reading your posts and seeing your photos. Looking forward to watching a few of them on the list that I have not seen yet. A few that are not on your list that we have enjoyed are Benvenuti al Sud (it’s comedy which incorporates poking fun at some italian stereotypes … there is also Benvenuti al Nord, but I like the first one, Sud better. … this one is not a “serious” film, but we laughed all the way through) … Mario Monicelli’s Big Deal on Modonna Street … and the third one is quite popular Cinema Paradiso (on of our all time favorites up there with il Postino) … be safe

    • Jed May 10, 2020 at 4:07 pm - Reply

      Hi Marty, Thanks for writing and for the suggestions. We actually have Benvenuti al Sud, but our copy only has Italian subtitles. Still, we’ll watch it soon. My other half (Italian) raves about how funny it is. I’ll add Big Deal on Madonna Street. Cinema Paradiso is one of my favorites and surely will be on my next list. Last night we watch Tutta Colpa di Freud. A great comedy and love story, filmed in Rome (pretty recent). Only Italian subtitles but surprisingly I was able to follow most of it. It’s just that my brain sometimes feels like a dog chasing a car and I’m nipped at the rear bumper most of the time! Stay sano! Jed

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