9 sun-drenched titles to whisk you away to beautiful Italy
Considering where we were a year ago, we’ve got amazing freedom to move around, especially when you compare South Africa to some European countries. But international travel in a pandemic is still not the option it used to be Before Covid.
Armchair tourism is a welcome diversion from our troubles; here’s a list of Italian and Italian-inspired movies, series and shows to stream on Showmax and Netflix.
Caught By A Wave (Netflix)
Summer lovin’ – is there anything more romantic? Sara (Elvira Camarrone) and Lorenzo (Roberto Christian) meet at a camp in Sicily, but a cloud of darkness covers the sun when Sara begins feeling a numbness in her muscles while they’re out sailing. It’s a symptom of a degenerative disease that at first she wants to keep a secret from Lorenzo, but ultimately their love must help them rise above it.
“Caught By A Wave becomes a hymn to the notion of carpe diem, of seizing the moment and living that moment as intensely as possible so that it stays with us forever,” says Cineuropa.
Chef’s Table (Netflix)
Six volumes, or seasons, are available to stream, but today we are concerned mainly with the very first episode. In 2015 it was Netflix’s first Original docuseries. Each episode focuses on one chef somewhere in the world who is doing amazing things in his or her kitchen. In this premiere outing, we meet Massimo Bottura, an Italian restaurateur and the chef patron of Osteria Francescana, a three-Michelin-star restaurant in Modena.
It has been listed in the top five at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards since 2010. Whether it’s cars, film, fashion or food, Italians do it all with their whole hearts. Let us not forget the words of Italian screen siren Sophia Loren, who said, among other things “I’d much rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size 0.”
Down To Earth With Zac Efron (Netflix)
Not just a pretty face, Zac Efron made this docuseries in which he travels around the world and focuses not only on travel but on green energy and sustainable living practices. In episode 4, he visits Sardinia, second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea after Sicily and one of the 20 regions of Italy.
There, one will find a remarkable number of centenarians – people aged over 100 years old. Dear young Zac ponders whether it’s their diet and lifestyle that lead to such long lives.
Eat Pray Love (Netflix)
Love her or hate her, Julia Roberts took this film based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir and turned it into something of a modern classic. There’s hardly anyone who hasn’t heard of one or the other. For the “Eat” part, Liz (Roberts) visits Italy, where she does a lot of exactly that: eating. For some (and by some, I mean me) it’s my favourite part.
“As she winds through the streets of Rome, Liz passes a woman delicately cutting into a platter of fresh figs and Parma ham. This was a pleasant departure from the also delicious but more ubiquitous dish, “prosciutto e melone,” or ham and melon,” says Smithsonian Magazine, in its detailed article about the food, glorious food.
Little Italy (Showmax)
This one deviates a bit since it’s not set in Italy, but in Little Italy in Toronto. In true Italian spirit, however, it’s about two families at war, both in the pizza business. Skip a generation, and you have Nikki (Emma Roberts, Julia’s niece) and Leo (Hayden Christensen), who grew up together but then find themselves embroiled in the old feud.
Spoiler: there is a LOT of pizza.
My Brilliant Friend (Showmax)
“When the most important friend in her life seems to have disappeared without a trace, Elena Greco, a now-elderly woman immersed in a house full of books, turns on her computer and starts writing the story of their friendship,” says HBO’s official site.
Widely acclaimed by audiences and critics, two seasons are available to stream. Says The Guardian of the second: “Gripping, heartbreaking, and beautiful, the second series of the gorgeous Elena Ferrante adaptation shows no signs of slacking.” This is quality television right here.
The American (Netflix)
Two words: George Clooney. Can the man do any wrong? Well, maybe; the less said about The Return of the Killer Tomatoes the better, but then again, it is a spoof and meant to be so bad it’s almost good. In The American, a grownup Clooney plays an assassin for whom things go a tiny bit wrong and he has to flee to Italy.
From there, it’s the usual assassin lifestyle … you know, killing people, staying one step ahead of being killed. What sets this movie apart is the digging into the mind of the assassin.
“Oh, there’s some action here and there. And the storyline is taut – and fraught – with tension. Mostly, though, The American is a slow-moving psychological profile of a professional assassin who’s grown tired of his violent and isolated existence. Think of it as an art-house take on Bond’s most tormented moments -played in super, super slow motion,” says Plugged In.
The Last Paradiso (Netflix)
An Italian movie, made by and starring Italians, in Italian, in Italy. It’s almost as if you are right there, other than it being set in the 1950s.
“The Last Paradiso sets the scene; a wonderful vineyard looking area, clasped in the middle of the countryside, where villagers are part of the environment rather than toiling over it. There’s a farmer feeling, with the poor versus rich poignantly charged, presented by the greedy and the desperate,” explains Ready Steady Cut. “If you enjoyed the mise-en-scène of the HBO series My Brilliant Friend, which depicts the lives of two girls growing up in a poor neighborhood in Naples in the 1950s …The Last Paradiso will be a slightly more vibrant aesthetic counterpart,” says Hollywood Insider.
We Are Who We Are (Showmax)
Set in 2016, this coming-of-age drama series from Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name) follows two American teenagers as they explore their true identities while living on a military base in the seaside town of Chioggia, Italy, HBO tells us of this series. If you loved Call Me By Your Name, and why would you not, it’s an exquisite film, you will have understandably high hopes for this eight-part series. You will not be disappointed.
Vulture glowingly says: “We Are Who We Are is gorgeously photographed and obsessive in its attention to detail. Guadagnino is drawn to the messes people make and don’t bother to clean up, both literally and emotionally.”