Summertime means time to travel for many people, and what better inspiration than a good movie. This summer, whether you’re traveling or not, the new movie To Rome with Love is a great example of how a destination can be brought to life on the big screen.
Written and directed by Woody Allen, the movie tells the story of different types of relationships while paying homage to the Italian capital. Even though it boasts an all-star cast, including Penélope Cruz, Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni and Woody Allen himself, Rome is likely to steal the scene.
So in honor of To Rome with Love, here’s a list of just a few of my favorite travel-inspiring movies. Be sure to leave a comment at the end with your favorite too.
Roman Holiday (1953)
Vespas, gelato and Audrey Hepburn. Need I say more? One of my personal favorites, this movie starring Gregory Peck opposite Hepburn is about a sheltered princess-turned rebel who falls in love with an American reporter in Rome. Like Fellini’s 1960s classic La Dolce Vita, this film captures the fun, excitement and romance of the Eternal City, and even won Hepburn an Oscar for her role.
The Terminal (2004)
I love airports, and call me crazy, long layovers. They’re the perfect way to get my fill of walking as well as people watching. In The Terminal, Tom Hanks plays Viktor Navorski, an Eastern European traveler with an exceedingly long layover. After arriving at JFK, he learns that war has broken out in his country. Victor is denied entry to the U.S., but can’t return until the situation is sorted out, so is forced to take up residency in the airport. During his “layover”, he makes friends, learns to speak English, gets a job and even falls in love with a flight attendant played by Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Julie & Julia (2009)
French food never looked so good in this movie starring the equally delightful Amy Adams and Meryl Streep. Julie & Julia dances back and forth between Julie Powell, a woman living in New York who is determined to cook her way through Julia Child’s entire first cookbook, and the master chef herself at the start of her career in Paris. Their stories intertwine as both women seek to find their true passion, which leaves the viewer yearning for a butter-filled trip to France.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
As the title implies, two friends – Vicky and Cristina – travel to Barcelona for the summer. Spain is a hot and sexy setting for this tangled love story, where both women fall in love with the same man, a Spanish artist named Juan Antonio. The triangle becomes even more complicated when his ex-wife Maria Elena, played by Penélope Cruz, re-enters the picture. Woody Allen does it again in this movie that makes you want to pack your bags and jet off for some fun in the sun in Spain.
Eat Pray Love (2010)
Similar to the 2003 movie Under the Tuscan Sun, this movie is about starting over and finding yourself through travel. Based on a true story and book by the same name, Julia Roberts stars as Liz Gilbert, a recent divorcee who sets out on a trip around the world to do just that. Her journey takes her to some of the most beautiful places in the world – Italy where she learns the true enjoyment of food, India where she discovers spirituality and Indonesia where she finds an unexpected new relationship.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Another one of my all-time favorite movies, Breakfast at Tiffany’s made me fall in love with New York at a very young and impressionable age. While many other movies set in the Big Apple have come since, this one paints a vivid picture of the city through socialite Holly Golightly’s eyes, with the world-famous Tiffany & Co. jewelry store on 5th Avenue center-stage.
Midnight in Paris (2011)
Another Woody Allen flick, this movie is a picture-perfect postcard for the city, rain or shine. Owen Wilson’s character struggles with his writing and his relationship, but finds both inspiration and love as he wanders through the streets of Paris. When the clock strikes twelve, he’s transported back in time to the golden age of the 1920s, conjuring up the nostalgia of Paris’ rich past and bringing to life the great artists and writers who walked the streets before him. Keep an eye out for a cameo by former French First Lady Carla Bruni, who plays a curator at the Rodin Museum.
Who wouldn’t want to be an expat in a cool and exotic place like Casablanca, Morocco? Set against the backdrop of World War II, the legendary Humphrey Bogart does just that in this movie. Bogart plays Rick, owner of Rick’s Café American where the drinks are cool and the music is hot. And then there’s Paris, where Rick met his former flame Isla, played by the beautiful Ingrid Bergman. This is a classic you can watch again and again, filled with great one-liners, one right after another. Happy ending or not, “We’ll always have Paris.”
What’s your favorite travel-inspiring movie?
I saw Midnight in Paris a week after I got back from a trip to Paris. I kept thinking “I was there – and there!” Your list is great :)
Thanks! That’s how I felt when I saw ‘To Rome with Love’. There was a Nerone exhibit at the Colosseum when we were there last fall, which you see in the movie trailer.
Great list! I will have to add a few of these to mine….Midnight In Paris was a lovely, whimsical film- I loved the contrast between the stereotypical American traveler and the openness of Owen Wilson’s character.
Thanks! I completely agree with you, and loved the time travel aspect. It made me want to pick up some Hemingway or Fitzgerald novels!