Veni Vidi Vici: 7 Movies Set In Italy

Thursday, May 10 by Joseph Gibson

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Italy has been around for hundreds of years, and has all the rich culture and tradition that goes with that kind of longevity. Also, did you know "The Italian Job" was set there? That's not all—here are seven other movies set in Italy.

"The Bicycle Thief"

Italy has a rich cinematic tradition, and one of the most famous subsets of that tradition is Italian neorealism, best exemplified by this movie by Vittorio De Sica. Basically, neorealism was all about showing the lives of working-class Italians as they really were, not gussied up with a lot of wealth and/or melodrama. And this acclaimed classic about a man and his son searching for a stolen bicycle hits all the requirements.

"La Dolce Vita"

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Then again, insane wealth can be pretty entertaining as well. That's certainly the idea behind this, one of Federico Fellini's most famous movies about the jet-set in 1960s Rome. It's the movie that gave birth to the term "paparazzi" for unscrupulous photographers of celebrities, just to give you an idea of the world we're dealing with here.

"Divorce, Italian Style"

 When a married Italian man in 1961 wants to marry his teenaged cousin, he's got a problem (well, he's got a lot of problems, but here's one): Divorce isn't legal in strongly Catholic Italy. So he sets out to do the Christian thing and murder his wife instead. This is a hilarious comedy that satirized the puritanical divorce policies in Italy at the time.

"Don't Look Now"

Venice, Italy is one of the more famous Italian cities to Americans because of its famous waterways. It's also the setting for this haunting 1970s thriller starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie as a married couple grieving over the death of their daughter and experiencing all kinds of creepy supernatural shit.

"The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"

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 Those Veneician waterways are also the setting of a memorable chapter of the movie version of Alan Moore's acclaimed comic. Did you know that they're wide and deep enough to accommodate a massive submarine? Well, they aren't, but the filmmakers are hoping you either don't know that or don't care.

"Deep Red"

Italy is also the birthplace of the giallo thriller, which is considered by most to be the forefather to the slasher. And one of the best is Dario Argento's "Deep Red," which features David Hemmings as a musician living in Italy who stumbles upon a murder, and who has to solve it before the killer gets to him (this is also the plot of pretty much every giallo). The spacey sets might not look the the real Italy, but the talent behind the camera makes this one of the most important Italy-set movies ever.

"Gomorrah"

Another famous piece of Italian culture is its organized crime families. Most American movies dealing with this subject are set mostly in America, but the recent crime epic "Gomorrah" is set in Naples, and provides a journalism-like look at the gritty world of organized crime. Set entirely at street-level, it gets compared a lot to "The Wire," but it's really its own beast, contrasting the excitement of the criminal lifestyle fantasy with the boredom and bleak death of the reality.