Practically every region or little town in Italy has been a set for film productions, both italian and foreign ones. Some of the Hollywood films set in Italy were pretty good, some other cheesy, unconvincing or just plain awful. Most of them share a common flaw: the multitude of stereotypes, that portay Italy as a country still struck in the 1950s, where everyone plays mandolino and listens to opera. Some of the movies set in the beautiful scenario of Amalfi and Sorrento coast are no exceptions to this rule, while others really capture the beauties of the place. From Sorrento to Amalfi, from Positano to Ravello, almost all of the most important towns in the area have welcomed a movie set; let’s have a look at the most famous:
Scandal in Sorrento; the third installment of a 4 films saga, it starred Italian director and actor Vittorio De Sica and Italian actress Sophia Loren, who replaced Gina Lollobrigida. The film is entirely set in Sorrento, which was becoming an international destination in those years. Between a tarantella and a limoncello, the film also consolidated Loren’s reputation, and a few years later she started a successful career in Hollywood. She is today Sorrento’s honorary citizen.
Beat the Devil; this classic Hollywood film directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones and Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida shows the beauties of Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo in Ravello. The film, however, was panned by critics and audience.
What?; this relatively forgotten film directed by Roman Polanski and starring Marcello Mastroianni, is set in a beautiful villa in Amalfi owned by producer Carlo Ponti, Sophia Loren’s husband. The town of Amalfi is prominently featured too.
Avanti!; while this Billy Wilder movie with Jack Lemmon is maily set in Ischia, it was shot in Sorrento and Atrani too. The main hotel setting was actually in Sorrento.
The Decameron; this adaptation of the XIV Italian poem of Giovanni Boccaccio was directed by Pierpaolo Pasolini, one of the most controversial directors in Italy, and is noted for many nudity and sex scenes. With most scenes shot in Amalfi and Sorrento, one of the most striking is the convent adjacent to the Church of San Francesco in Ravello.
Only You; definitely in the top 10 of the most stereotyped movies about Italy, this 1994 comedy sees Marisa Tomei hunting her presumed soulmate Robert Downey Jr all around Italy, ending her journey in Positano.
The Talented Mr. Ripley; probably one of the most famous films set in Italy, starring Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow, it is manly set in Ischia and Procida, but Positano’s roads were used as the inspiration for the fictional port of Mongibello.
Under the Tuscan Sun; yet another Italy-as-seen-by-Hollywood film, it sees Diane Lane seduced by Italian playboy Raoul Bova in the gorgeous setting of Positano.
A Good Woman; this little known 2005 adaptation of an Oscar Wilde’s comedy, Lady Windermere’s Fan, starring Helen Hunt and Scarlett Johansson is a pleasure for Amalfi coast lovers, as it is entirely set and shot in the 1930s Amalfi.
Love is All you Need; when you hear in the soundtrack “That’s Amore”, it’s always a sign that a funny, romantic, typical Italian love scene is going to take place in a film. This 2012 movie directed by respectful Danish director Susanne Bier and starring Pierce Brosnan is no exception. However Sorrento is the real protagonist of the film, and Brosnan admitted he fell in love with the place while shooting.