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By Patricia McIvor
Let’s continue our cinematic world tour this month with films set in Italy.
Hop on a Vespa and explore the capital with Roman Holiday (1953).
Near the end of an exhausting European good-will tour, Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) escapes her handlers to spend a day in Rome as an ordinary tourist. Joined by American journalist Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), Ann enjoys simple pleasures like going shopping, getting a haircut, and even participating in a brawl at a late-night dance. Though Bradley initially assists the runaway princess in order to obtain the ultimate exclusive, he finds himself falling for the charming young royal during her one day of independence.
Tour highlights: Princess Ann sees much of Rome from the back of a Vespa scooter, which turns out to be ideal for weaving in and out of Italian traffic. In addition to the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and the Colosseum, Ann visits the now-famous Mouth of Truth, which, according to legend, will bite off the hand of anyone prone to lying.
Go off the beaten path on a rustic Italian island with Il Postino: The Postman (1994).
When exiled Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (Philippe Noiret) moves to a remote Italian island, the local post office decides to assign a special postman to handle the sudden influx of mail from Neruda’s adoring fans. During his daily deliveries, tongue-tied Mario (Massimo Troisi) slowly develops a friendship with Neruda, hoping for insight into life, literature, and love. Neruda’s advice helps Mario understand the soul of poetry, which in turn helps Mario to woo local beauty Beatrice.
Tour highlights: For travelers looking for a more “authentic” experience, this film provides a great time capsule of small town Italian life in 1950. Filmed on the islands of Procida and Salina, the story presents both the romance (beautiful isolated beaches) and the reality (no running water) of island living.
Get your groove back in scenic Tuscany with Under the Tuscan Sun (2003).
After a sudden and devastating divorce, Frances (Diane Lane) takes a trip to Italy, where she impulsively buys a rundown Tuscan villa called Bramasole. During the ensuing renovation, Frances bonds with her team of Polish workers, befriends an ex-pat actress who truly understands La Dolce Vita, and enjoys a little romance with an Italian dreamboat named Marcello.