Five Romantic Italian Movies to Watch on Valentine’s Day
Plan an evening full of romance with these sweet classics
Whether you’re preparing for a Valentine’s night with your significant other or plan to spend February 14 with friends – anything goes when it comes to celebrating love – one thing is certain: a cosy evening in watching a movie is always a winning idea.
Call us homebodies, but there’s nothing quite as sweet and comforting as curling up on the sofa with a glass of vino, a hearty bowl of pasta, and a perfect film, or two.
Not sure what feature to pick? We’re here to help. Forget teen rom-coms or overly soppy period dramas. Instead, make this V-Day all about discovering the romantic side of your favourite country (that would be Italy, obviously) by watching these beautiful and unabashedly delightful Italian classics.
Ieri, Oggi, e Domani (1963)
Directed by Vittorio de Sica, Ieri, Oggi, e Domani (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow) charts the lives of three women – Adelina, a working-class wife in Naples; Anna, a wealthy married woman with a secret lover; and Mara, a sex-worker who only takes on exclusive clients – as they navigate love, relationships, and the complexities of life. With stunning cinematography and fantastic acting – courtesy of icons Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni – it’s a charming and bittersweet exploration of love in all its forms, at turns hilarious and deeply poignant. A must watch for any serious Italophile.
Matrimonio All’Italiana (1964)
Matrimonio All’Italiana (Marriage – Italian Style) isn’t your classic rom-com, but one of the best movies to ever portray the complexities of love and relationships on screen. In Naples during World War II, Domenico (Marcello Mastroianni), a handsome and successful man, is immediately drawn to the young and attractive Filomena (Sophia Loren). Years later, they reunite and start a long-term, passionate relationship that will span decades. But when Filomena discovers that Domenico intends to marry someone else, even though she has been his mistress and had his children, she takes drastic measures to force him into marrying her instead. Finding the perfect balance between drama and comedy, this Vittorio de Sica’s classic is as heart-rendering as it is delicious, with nuanced, touching performances that lend a lot of complexity to the characters – particularly Loren’s one.
Pane e Tulipani (2000)
Licia Maglietta plays Rosalba, a housewife who is taken utterly for granted by her family. When the tourist bus she is travelling on with her husband and teenage children leaves her at a highway rest stop without anyone realising it, Rosalba impulsively hitches a ride with a friendly woman eventually ending up in Venice, where she has never been. In the Serenissima, she meets a variety of colourful characters and discovers a newfound sense of independence, embarking on a journey of self-discovery and love. Comedic, romantic and quirky, this Silvio Soldini’s feature (which is translated as Bread and Tulips) is a true delight, and one of the most lovable films you’ll ever watch.
Le Fate Ignoranti (2001)
Hailed as one of the best Italian movies of the last few decades, Ferzan Ozpetek’s Le Fate Ignoranti (The Ignorant Fairies) is a film of rare beauty and sensitivity, where love transcends sex and gender to showcase instead the bond between two souls. Antonia (Margherita Buy) is a middle-class and happily married wife devastated by her husband Massimo’s sudden death. One day, she finds an old painting that has clearly been given to her husband by a lover, which eventually leads her to an even more arresting discovery: the lover was a man, Michele (Stefano Accorsi). After the initial shock, Antonia is suddenly catapulted into Massimo’s parallel life, in a world opposite to her own but made up of authentic, welcoming people, through which she will finally get to know the man she married and, above all, learn to love herself. Halfway between comedy and drama, Le Fate Ignoranti looks at the many facets of love without discrimination, limits and restrictions, exploring the unexpected connections that can form between people. For those who want to reflect, even on Valentine’s Day.
I am Love (2010)
A family drama from Italian film-maker Luca Guadagnino, I am Love features Tilda Swinton as Emma, a beautiful and stylish Russian-born woman who has become assimilated into the moneyed upper-middle classes of contemporary Milan by marrying Tancredi Recchi (Pippo Delbono); a wealthy, middle-aged heir apparent to a textile empire. At a dinner, she meets and falls for a chef named Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini), and, in a few days, her world changes, as she discovers to accept her own needs. Not strictly a romantic film, I am Love is nonetheless a deep, rich, incredibly human portrayal of love, captured in the most sumptuous of ways. An impeccably stylish family drama.
A charming drama about friendship, childhood and the magic of films, this is a little gem of a movie that offers a glimpse of small-town living in Italy, and it’s imbued with heart, nostalgia, and lightness. Put it on after a gloomy day: it will brighten up your evening.