Venice is a world-renowned Italian city steeped in history and fame. Its grand canals, decorated bridges, and palaces dating back to the Renaissance have made it an iconic tourist destination worldwide.
Formerly the largest port in Europe and the entry point to Asia, Venice is a relatively small city now congested with tourists and cruise ships and currently facing the threat of sinking. Nevertheless, numerous top-rated movies set in Venice have reflected the city’s cultural significance and enduring appeal.
Venice’s cinematic beauty can inspire anyone to visit. Whether planning a trip or already scheduled to visit, watching great movies set in Venice can add excitement to the experience. So, if you’re yearning for more of the City of Bridges in your life, here are some of the best movies set in Venice that you can watch.
Table of Contents:
The Best Movies set in Venice, Italy
1. Don’t Look Now (1973)
Director: Nicolas Roeg
Run time: 110m
97% Rotten Tomatoes
Don’t Look Now is a 1973 British-Italian horror film directed by Nicolas Roeg and starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland. The movie is based on the 1971 short story of the same name by Daphne du Maurier.
Set in Venice, the film follows a grieving couple, Christie and Sutherland, who have come to the city for work and to recover from the recent death of their young daughter. Sutherland, an architect, takes on a job to restore an old church, while Christie meets two sisters, one of whom claims to be psychic and has made contact with the couple’s deceased daughter.
The film’s set takes you through Venice’s canals, narrow streets, and the Rialto Bridge. It’s an amazing film that really makes you want to visit Venice to see the beautiful locations.
2. Casino Royale (2006)
Director: Martin Campbell
Run time: 144m
95% Rotten Tomatoes
Of all the films and entries in the James Bond series, my favorite is Casino Royale, the 21st film in the franchise. While many argue that Sean Connery is the best Bond, Daniel Craig’s portrayal of the MI7 secret agent is my preferred version (even if I think Pierce Brosnan most looks the part).
Casino Royale offers a fresh take on the Bond series by depicting the early days of the agent’s career before he acquires his license to kill. The plot follows Bond as he is sent to infiltrate a high-stakes poker game in Montenegro before seeking recovery in Venice after a challenging mission.
Although the film features various stunning locations around the world, Venice takes center stage as the primary setting for the film’s climax. Compared to other Bond films, Casino Royale’s story doesn’t rely heavily on country hopping, so viewers can sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Venice throughout the film. Overall, it’s an outstanding film that is well worth watching.
Apart from Venice’s canals and San Polo’s Rialto Bridge, Casino Royale also showcases other notable landmarks in the city. These include the Accademia Bridge, right near the stunning Gallerie dell’Accademia, the Academy of Music, and the exterior of the church in Campo San Barnaba.
Additionally, the film features scenes of Bond docking his boat along the Giudecca canal and the Houses of the Procurators in St Mark’s Square.
3. Summertime (1955)
Director: David Lean
Run time: 100m
94% Rotten Tomatoes
It’s fascinating to watch and note the abundance of movies depicting women traveling to Italy in a bid to escape their overwhelmingly lonely lives. I can recall at least five films. David Lean’s 1955 masterpiece Summertime, featuring the legendary Katherine Hepburn, is one of them, set in the beautiful city of Venice.
Hepburn’s character, Jane Hudson, is depicted as an unmarried secretary hailing from Ohio who finally sets off on her dream vacation to Venice. Throughout her journey, she explores numerous destinations across the city, including the charming islands of Murano and Burano, as well as enjoying a cup of espresso at a café in Piazza San Marco.
This movie is undoubtedly a masterpiece and ranks high among the classic films showcasing Venice through a tourist’s eyes.
4. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Run time: 128m
88% Rotten Tomatoes
When you think of movies in Venice, you likely think of Indiana Jones. If you’re looking for travel inspiration, this franchise is a must-see, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the perfect movie to watch before visiting Venice.
Harrison Ford’s character, an archaeologist with a fear of snakes, is searching for his father, a Holy Grail scholar who the Nazis have taken in 1938.
The Last Crusade was filmed in various locations worldwide, including Andalucía in Spain, Petra in Jordan, Germany, England, and several states in the US, such as Utah, Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico.
In the movie, Indy travels to Venice and visits a library in search of his father, offering viewers a beautiful shot of the city’s Grand Canal and Campo San Barnaba.
5. The Comfort of Strangers (1990)
Director: Paul Schrader
Run time: 107m
50% Rotten Tomatoes
Romantic Venice has been the backdrop for numerous love stories on the big screen. Among them is the British film, The Comfort of Strangers, featuring Natasha Richardson and Rupert Everett as a couple returning to Venice for a romantic getaway.
Soon after their arrival, they encounter a British-Italian couple, played by Christopher Walken and Helen Mirren, who draw them into their enigmatic and unsettling lives.
Although critics were unimpressed upon its release, The Comfort of Strangers boasts an impressive cast. It showcases the beauty of Venice, with scenes shot at Hotel Gabrielli and Palazzo Loredan dell’Ambasciatore (one of the oldest buildings in Venice).
6. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Director: Jon Watts
Run time: 129m
90% Rotten Tomatoes
Spider-Man: Far From Home is a 2019 superhero film that follows Peter Parker (played by Tom Holland) as he travels to Europe with his classmates for a summer vacation. However, his plans are disrupted when he is recruited by Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson) to help stop a new threat.
A significant portion of the film takes place in Venice, Italy, where the main protagonists, Peter, and his friends, visit several iconic Venetian locations:
- Grand Canal
- Ponte di Rialto
- Piazza San Marco
- Leonardo Da Vinci Museum
- Santa Maria Formosa Church
- Ponte de L’Arsenal o del Paradiso
Overall, Venice serves as a stunning backdrop for Spider-Man: Far From Home, adding to the film’s exciting action sequences and light-hearted humor.
7. The Italian Job (2003)
Director: F. Gary Gray
Run time: 110m
73% Rotten Tomatoes
In 2003, a new version of The Italian Job was released as a modern take on the 1969 film that starred Michael Caine.
While the original was set in Turin, the remake was relocated to Venice, making it a rare action film set in the city (at least at that time). The production required the closure of several streets in Venice, including the famous St Mark’s Square.
If you’re looking for a break from romantic comedies, this film could be a good choice. Although it may not measure up to the quality of the original, The Italian Job is still an enjoyable movie to watch.
The updated version of The Italian Job features Mark Wahlberg as a safecracker who aims to steal $35 million worth of gold bullion with the help of his team as a means of revenge against a former friend.
The film retains the charming mini cooper cars, thrilling boat chase, beautiful locales, and exciting heist plot that made the original so memorable.
8. The Merchant of Venice (2004)
Director: Michael Radford
Run time: 131m
71% Rotten Tomatoes
Despite being a famous William Shakespeare play, The Merchant of Venice has surprisingly few feature film adaptations. In fact, this movie happens to be the first.
While most adaptations focus on the Verona-set play Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice takes place in 16th-century Venice and follows the story of a merchant named Antonio (Jeremy Irons) who is unable to repay a loan, leaving him in dire straits. The film stars Al Pacino as the villainous character Shylock.
Though it wasn’t particularly well-received at the box office, The Merchant of Venice was at least shot in its native city – Venice! So if you’re curious about what the city might have looked like 400 years ago, this could be your chance to find out.
9. Casanova (2005)
Director: Lasse Hallström
Run time: 112m
44% Rotten Tomatoes
When it comes to 17th Century Venice, you’ve likely heard of the legendary womanizer Casanova. His name has become synonymous with men who seduce women and have many lovers.
If you’re looking for a fun movie about this illustrious character and his hedonistic story, you should check out the film Casanova, starring the late Heath Ledger. Although it’s not the best film set in Venice, it’s still worth watching – plus, it was shot entirely on location in the city!
Although it was shot more than 400 years after the real Casanova lives, the city hasn’t changed all that much, which makes it an ideal location to shoot period pieces.
10. Death in Venice (1971)
Director: Luchino Visconti
Languages: English, French, Italian, Polish
Run time: 130m
67% Rotten Tomatoes
Based on a novella by Thomas Mann about a troubled writer who becomes obsessed with a young Polish boy who makes him feel invigorated.
Taking place during the 1800s on Lido Island, around the era of the Cholera outbreak, the movie follows the journey of a composer named Gustav von Aschenbach, who travels to Venice seeking recovery from his critical health problems.
Death in Venice is a somewhat artistic film that may not cater to everyone’s taste. Moreover, the movie’s subject matter, which delves into topics like mortality and an infatuated grown man lusting after a 14-year-old, may not be the ideal inspiration for wanderlust.
Although there are more films set in Venice, these are some of my favorites that evoke that inner desire for adventure and provide insight into the city. Have you watched any of the movies on my list of best films set in Venice? Want to argue with me about Daniel Craig as Jame Bond? Let me know in the comments below!
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