The canals, alleyways, and unusual architecture of Venice make it especially cinematic, which is why several films have cast the city as one of the main characters. If you're looking to armchair travel to Venice, you may want to cue up these films for a glimpse of Venice's celluloid charisma.
Bread and Tulips
Provincial mother and housewife Rosalba goes on a bus tour with her family and gets left behind at a rest stop along the way. Instead of panicking, Rosalba decides to hitchhike to Venice and enjoy a holiday on her own terms. That is the plot of Pane e Tulipani, a charming little Italian film in which many of Venice's most famous tourist attractions provide the backdrop for an array of quirky characters.
This film follows the life of Veronica Franco, one of the most famous of Venice's cortigiane oneste. In 16th century Venice, "honest courtesans," who plied their trade near the Rialto Bridge, were of a higher class than regular prostitutes, required to stimulate their clients intellectually as well as intimately. Dangerous Beauty is a fascinating look into Renaissance Venice, and the city looks ever more romantic when accompanied with a cast in period costumes.
The most obvious of Venice-based films is this thriller based on the novel by Thomas Mann. Much of this quiet, but haunting drama which deals with a forbidden attraction of a male composer towards an adolescent boy takes place on the Venice Lido, a popular Venice day trip. Meanwhile, in Venice, a deadly epidemic is spreading. While these plot lines may not be the typical tourist brochure fodder, the inherent eeriness of Venice is captured excellently by director Luchino Visconti.
Adapted from the Henry James novel of the same name, this film sees the chronically ill American heiress Milly Theale travel to Venice as part of the Grand Tour. While there, Milly becomes entangled in an unusual love triangle. The Wings of the Dove was first made into a film in 1981, in France, and again in 1997 in Britain.
Who can forget Venice's role in The Last Crusade, the third installment of the Indiana Jones franchise? Venice is one of several locations featured in the explorer's quest for the Holy Grail, and his search takes him down to the city's watery catacombs where he encounters skulls and rats before emerging from a man hole in the middle of Saint Mark's Square. Soon after, Indiana Jones and his cohorts are being chased by speedboats through the city's canals.