Are you looking for the best movies about Tuscany?
Then you’re in luck. I’m a total cinephile and I am excited to share my favourite films set in Tuscany with you.
From action movies to romantic comedies, there’s something for everyone. Not all of these movies are masterpieces (although there are a few that are). However, each of them showcases one of the most popular regions of Italy.
My Top 10 Movies Set in Tuscany
Everyone has their favourites. In no particular order, here are mine.
1. A Room With A View (1986)
A Room With A View is not only one of the best movies set in Tuscany but also one of my favourite movies of all time. It is the film that ignited my love affair with Florence, where much of it was shot.
In this sumptuous adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic novel, Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham-Carter in her screen debut) is a well-brought-up Edwardian English lady on a grand tour of Italy. She is faced with a tricky decision: should she marry dull but safe Cecil (Daniel Day-Lewis) or give her heart to charismatic but socially unsuitable George (Julian Sands), whom she has met in Italy?
2. The English Patient (1996)
Adapted for the screen and directed by the late great Anthony Minghella, The English Patient won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
The titular English Patient is an unknown critically burned man (Ralph Fiennes) who takes refuge in an abandoned villa in Pienza during the dying days of World War II. He is cared for by a French-Canadian nurse (Juliette Binoche) to whom he tells his story, slowly revealing his identity.
The movie was shot in Viareggio and in locations in Val d’Orcia, Pisa and Arezzo.
3. Gladiator (2000)
Although Ridley Scott’s Gladiator is associated with Ancient Rome, some scenes were shot near Pienza.
It stars Russell Crowe as Maximus, a former Roman General who seeks revenge for the murder of his family in the gladiatorial arena. It features a magnificent score by Hans Zimmer and scooped up five Academy Awards.
4. Under The Tuscan Sun (2003)
Based on Frances Mayes’ memoir of the same name, Diane Lane plays an embittered author who flees to Tuscany when she discovers her husband has been cheating on her. She buys a dilapidated villa in Cortona and starts to rebuild her life.
Under The Tuscan Sun’s filming locations included Cortona, Florence and Montepulciano.
5. Tea With Mussolini (1999)
Based on Franco Zeffirelli’s autobiography, Tea With Mussolini is set in Florence before and during the Second World War. It tells the story of an abandoned boy who is raised by a group of eccentric, expatriate women and features a stellar cast.
Florence and San Gimignano were the movie’s main filming locations.
6. Stealing Beauty (1996)
Stealing Beauty (Io ballo da sola) was filmed entirely in Tuscany. It used multiple locations, including Arezzo, Siena and Gaiole in Chianti.
Written and directed by the great Bernardo Bertolucci, this coming-of-age drama stars Liv Tyler as a young American who travels to Tuscany to stay with family friends after her mother’s death. The film explores her journey of self-discovery as she interacts with an eclectic group of people and uncovers family secrets.
7. Portrait of a Lady (1996)
Based on Henry James’s novel, this period drama was directed by Jane Campion and stars Nicole Kidman. She plays Isabel Archer, a headstrong American who inherits a fortune and travels to Europe.
Portrait of a Lady explores her complex relationships, particularly with the enigmatic Gilbert Osmond (John Malkovich), and delves into themes of love, independence and societal constraints in the 19th Century. Some of its scenes were filmed in Palazzo Pfanner in Lucca.
8. Obsession (1976)
Brian De Palma’s Obsession is a remake of one of my favourite movies, Hitchcock’s Vertigo, in all but name. It even has a Bernard Herrmann score.
The movie centres around a wealthy businessman (Cliff Robertson) who becomes obsessed with a woman (Geneviève Bujold) who resembles his deceased wife. The movie owes a lot to its stunning cinematography and uses Florence and Siena as shooting locations.
9. Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972)
Franco Zeffirelli directed this biographical drama about St. Francis of Assisi (Graham Faulkner). Brother Sun, Sister Moon charts his spiritual transformation from a wealthy youth to a humble saint.
Fortezza di Montalcino in Val d’Orcia was one of the locations chosen to recreate Assisi, Francis’ birthplace. Other Tuscany locations include the Abbey of Sant’Antimo in Castelnuovo dell’Abate, Montalcino and San Gimignano.
10. La Vita è Bella / Life is Beautiful (1999)
La Vita è Bella was shot in and around Arezzo. It centres on a Jewish-Italian waiter, Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni in an Oscar-winning performance) trying to protect his son from the horrors of a concentration camp.
Although Life is Beautiful veers towards the saccharine, it is charming and often humorous.
Movies About Tuscany: The Best of the Rest
11. Where Angels Fear To Tread (1991)
Where Angels Fear To Tread is a film adaptation of a lesser-known E.M. Forster novel (fun fact: I studied the novel for English Literature).
Lilia (Helen Mirren), an English widow, has enraged her stuffy in-laws by becoming engaged to Gino, a younger Italian, whilst on an extended visit to Italy. Her brother-in-law, Phillip (Rupert Graves), is dispatched to put this right, setting in motion a chain of tragicomic events.
What I love about this movie is its commentary on the ‘otherness’ of different cultures, in this case, Italy.
12. Quantum of Solace (2008)
Quantum of Solace is the 22nd movie in the James Bond franchise.
In its heart-pumping opening scene, our favourite spy takes part in a car chase from Lake Garda to Siena via the marble quarries at Carrara. The movie showcases the Palio race in Sienna’s Piazza del Campo to dramatic effect.
I’ll be the first to admit that this isn’t the best Bond movie but it is a fabulous Tuscany travelogue.
13. Only You (1994)
Only You is a romantic comedy starring Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr.
It’s all a bit nuts. A woman pursues a man whom an Ouija board tells her she is destined to be with.
But the movie’s settings are sumptuous and include San Gimignano and Siena.
14. Inferno (2016)
Based on Dan Brown’s novel and directed by Ron Howard, Inferno is enjoyable nonsense. It follows renowned symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) as he races to foil a deadly plot connected to Dante’s Inferno.
Parts of the movie were shot on location in Florence, near Palazzo Vecchio and elsewhere in the historic centre.
15. Hannibal (2001)
Adapted from the Thomas Harris novel of the same name, Hannibal is the 2nd Ridley Scott movie in this Tuscany movies round-up, a sequel to The Silence of the Lambs.
Anthony Hopkins reprises his role as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, pursued by FBI Agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) in Italy. Many scenes were shot in Florence, including the Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore), Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Vecchio, the Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella and the Uffizi Galleries.
16. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999)
This whimsical adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic comedy used locations in Tuscany, including Montepulciano.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream intertwines the romantic misadventures of four young lovers and the meddling fairies in an enchanted forest. It features a star-studded cast, including Michelle Pfeiffer and Kevin Kline.
17. Benedetta (2021)
Are you in the mood for something more provocative? Directed by Paul Verhoeven, Benedetta is a controversial historical drama set in 17th-century Italy.
Benedetta Carlini (Virginie Efira) is a novice nun who experiences mystical visions and a forbidden love affair with another nun. The film explores themes of religion, sexuality and power while challenging societal norms.
Benedetta was set in Pescia in Tuscany but filming took place in Montepulciano and Val d’Orcia among other locations.
18. Certified Copy (2010)
Directed by Abbas Kiarostami, Certified Copy is a thought-provoking romantic drama set in Tuscany with Juliette Binoche and William Shimell in the lead roles.
The film revolves around the transformation of their relationship over the course of a day. As they navigate discussions on love and art, the movie cleverly blurs the lines between reality and fiction.
Certified Copy was filmed in Tuscany, using locations in Cortona, Lucignano and Arezzo.
19. The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)
The Twilight Saga: New Moon is the second instalment in the hugely popular vampire-themed franchise. Directed by Chris Weitz, it continues the story of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and her supernatural love triangle with vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner).
The hilltop town of Montepulciano doubled as Volterra, home to the Volturi, the movie’s vampire royalty.
20. Il Sorpasso (1962)
You may not have heard of this final movie set in Tuscany but bear with me.
This iconic Italian road movie was directed by Dino Risi and stars Vittorio Gassman, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Catherine Spaak. The film explores friendship and freedom against the backdrop of a rapidly changing post-war Italy.
Il Sorpasso follows the escapades of two contrasting characters, a reserved law student and a carefree extrovert, as they embark on a spontaneous road trip along the Italian coast. Their goal is Castiglioncello, a resort located south of Livorno.