No Italian Film is Up for the Best International Feature Film Oscar. Here's What to Watch Instead.

| Fri, 03/10/2023 - 10:00
Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio

Ed. March 11, 2023: This article's headline was amended to more accurately reflect that Italy is not competing in the major category of Best International Feature Film. It previously read "There's No Italian Language Film at the Oscars. Here's What to Watch Instead." Alice Rohrwacher's Le Pupille, however, is nominated for Best Live Action Short Film

Back in September, Italy presented Mario Martone’s Nostalgia for consideration as a nominee for Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards, which will air this Sunday, March 12. Nostalgia ultimately didn’t make the cut for candidacy, but Italy — Rome in particular — remains a cinematic stronghold in Hollywood’s eyes; just yesterday, in fact, Penske Media announced the spring 2023 launch of The Hollywood Reporter Romaa new multimedia platform and the first-ever European edition of the historic film industry magazine.

Italy may have no contender in the Best International Feature Film category, but there are plenty of recent English-friendly, set-in-Italy series and films — from the past year and the year to come — that you can watch to get your Bel Paese fix. Some items on this list may be higher-brow than others, but hey, if Italian scenery or storylines are primarily what you’re after, they all deliver.

From an HBO heavy-hitter to a surprisingly spiritual Pinocchio production, here are some recent, English-friendly films and television series filmed in Italy (or set in an animated Italy) in 2022, as well as others to watch out for in 2023. Stay tuned, too, for a forthcoming roundup of Italian-directed, Italian-performed, internationally watchable 2023 productions.

The Lying Life of Adults: Naples

The only Italian-language (and Neapolitan-dialect) entry in this particular roundup, The Lying Life of Adults made its international (and subtitled) debut on Netflix back in January. Created by Edoardo de Angelis and based on the blockbuster 2019 Elena Ferrante novel The Lying Life of Adults (La vita bugiarda degli adulti), the six-episode, coming-of-age series follows adolescent protagonist Giovanna (Giordana Marengo) as she connects with an estranged aunt (Valeria Golino) in 1990s Naples.

Mafia Mamma: Rome and Calabria

Arriving in movie theaters stateside on April 14, this action-comedy stars Toni Collette as a down-on-her-luck suburban American who travels to Italy for her grandfather's funeral — only to learn that she's been tapped to replace him in his role as the head of a powerful mafia family in Calabria. Monica Bellucci co-stars. 

The White Lotus, season 2: Sicily

The headlines about this ultra-hyped HBO series were near-impossible to miss, but in case you still haven’t watched or weren’t clear on why it’s worth seeing, the second season of The White Lotus was filmed on location in Taormina, Sicily. 

This season followed the escapades of a new group of holiday goers (and returning fan favorite, Jennifer Coolidge, donning sunglasses that harken back to Jackie O’s days in Capri). 

Shots of the southern Italian island couldn’t be more epic as the camera pans from high above the sparkling blue Ionian Sea. Plus, the kooky comedy-drama unfolds against the most seductive of backdrops: a 14th-century Dominican convent-turned-four-star resort with a clifftop infinity pool, cloistered courtyards, and manicured Italian gardens. 

A standout in the award-winning cast is Roman native and comédien Sabrina Impacciatore. Italian-American actors F. Murray Abraham, Michael Imperioli, Aubrey Plaza and Adam DeMarco round out the troupe.

From Scratch: Florence and Sicily

Another Netflix entry, this limited series is based on Trembi Locke’s New York Times bestseller, From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home.

Amy Wheeler (Zoe Saldana) comes to Florence and falls in love with an Italian chef named Saro (Eugenio Mastrandrea), but the young man’s Sicilian parents do not approve of the match. 

The series begins in Florence and makes its way to Sicily, mostly around Cefalù. Other scenes in the series offer panoramas of sea views at random points around the island.

Another End: Rome (and an unidentified sci-fi setting)

The trailer for this Piero Messina-directed, English-language sci-fi film hasn’t yet dropped, but Another End is the dystopian counterpoint to all the dolcezza in this list. Starring Gael García Bernal and Renate Reinsve, and filmed between Rome and Paris, it’s expected to make waves at the autumn festival circuit, according to Variety 

Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy, season 2: Various locations

In September, Eater published I Am Tired of Watching People Go to Italy, in which writer Bettina Makalintal pleaded with networks to find other countries' cuisines to showcase. Many of our own readers shared some of her sentiments when CNN announced the cancellation of Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy.

But if you’re a die-hard fan of Tucci, or simply never get tired of sun-soaked scenes flashing across your TV, take Makalintal's sentiments with a grain of salt. The second season of Stanley Tucci’s Dionysian adventures won’t disappoint on travel inspiration and take-me-there vistas.

Cities and regions the smooth-talking American actor took viewers to in 2022 included Venice, Piemonte, Umbria, Calabria, Sardinia, Puglia, Liguria and even London, where Italians exert considerable influence on the dining scene.

Love in the Villa, season 2: Verona

Following a bad breakup (as these stories often go), a young woman (played by Kat Graham) takes a trip to Verona (as one does) and finds the villa she’s rented is double-booked by a handsome British man played by Tom Hopper (of course it is!).

The Netflix rom-com was mostly shot in and around the city of Verona, immortalized as a love-story setting in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

Viewers follow the unlikely pair to San Giovanni Lupatoto, a famous wine-producing area in the Veneto region, and to the shores of Lake Garda for a picnic scene.

Your pick of two Pinocchio remakes: Tuscany/Northern Italy


Director Robert Zemeckis’ Pinocchio reimagines Walt Disney’s 1940 animated classic, based on Carlo Collodi's Adventures of Pinocchio, one of the most translated books in history. Zemeckis’ rendering stars perennial good guy Tom Hanks as Geppetto, and an artistic rendering of Carlo Collodi’s Adventures of Pinocchio titular marionette voiced by British child actor, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth. His insect sidekick, Grillo Parlante (AKA Jiminy Cricket) is voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Zemeckis’ iteration depicts the pine wood lad gallivanting through what some researchers believe is the Tuscan village of San Miniato Basso, which lies between Pisa and Florence, where Collodi’s father once worked.

For a darker version of the classic folk tale also released last year, check out the director and screenwriter Guillermo del Toro’s stop-action fantasy-musical, which transplants the tale to Fascist-era Italy, and uses Pinocchio’s pushback as a prime driver of the story. Themes of rebellion, death and rebirth figure prominently into this poignant version. For those who enjoy looking out for familiar landscapes in animated films, Pinocchio’s adventures in Del Toro’s retelling are said to take him to Turin or Milan, Alessandria, Genoa, Livorno, Florence, Viterbo, and Catania.