The first word that often comes to mind when we hear the word “Italian” is “food”—maybe even a particular type of food, like pizza, pasta, lasagna, or parmesan.
Other applicable responses might be “vacation,” “art,” and “fashion.”
Italians really have it all: they have a fascinating history, a beautiful country, well-dressed runways, and of course delicious food. But they also have a reputation for making some fantastic flicks—particularly in the swinging ’60s and ’70s.
If you’re in the mood for dinner and movie, we suggest you dine on Italian classics—both the edible and watchable kinds. Here are five Italian movies to watch, depending on which dish you would most like to eat.
1. Craving Cioppino? Check out “L’avventura” by Michaelangelo Antonioni.
Cioppino may not technically be from Italy, but the seafood stew will go perfectly with the sea, Island, and beach scenes in “L’avventura.”
Auteur director Antonioni’s 1960 mystery follows a man and woman as they travel the Mediterranean searching for a missing woman—the man’s fiancée and the woman’s best friend. Attraction draws them together as they hunt for the wealthy deserter who disappeared from an isolated island during a boating trip.
2. Feeling Fettucine Alfredo? Follow “The Conformist” by Bernardo Bertolucci.
There’s a whole pile of intrigue that this movie’s protagonist tries to whitewash – which will be more delightful with a healthy heaping of the white noodly dish.
In this 1970 drama by famed director Bertolucci, a man joins the fascist party and is sent abroad to assassinate his former professor. Trying to conform to 1938 Italian society without any problems, the man marries his ditzy fiancée and then takes her to Paris with him for a honeymoon so that he can complete the murderous deed.
During their time in Paris, the would-be assassin has his strength of mind tested by the professor’s beautiful and intelligent wife, and by his own ability to follow-through with his task.
3. Pining for Pizza Quattro Formaggi? Please your tastebuds with “Marriage Italian Style” by Vittorio de Sica.
The four cheeses on you pizza while guide you through the four major stages of the romantic affair in this rom-com.
Bombshell actress Sophia Loren stuns in this 1964 movie about a philandering businessman who starts an affair with a 17-year-old girl. The girl becomes his mistress, but also a prostitute.
They have three children together, but the businessman doesn’t know they are his. Over the course of the film, the businessman and his mistress get married, divorce, and end up married again.
4. Musing over Margherita Pizza? Match it with “La dolce vita” by Federico Fellini.
This movie’s protagonist’s aspirations aren’t all that different from the humble pizza’s pivot to glory by being named after Queen Margherita.
The 1960 dramedy by the Italian auteur follows a paparazzo journalist as he chases dreams through Rome. Over the course of a week, he treads between the glamorous world he photographs and writes about, and the domestic life that should be his duty to attain—all while trying to figure out how to become a writer people will take seriously in the future.
5. Salivating for Shrimp Fra Diavolo? See “8 ½” by Federico Fellini.
The spicy sauce and succulent shellfish in this dish are perfect for savoring alongside Fellini’s biting autobiography.
A second Fellini flick in this list, this 1963 production is perhaps his most famous and most critically acclaimed.
In the film, a director who has just achieved fame can’t seem to get a break. The stress of his sudden popularity leads him to think back over his past and all of the drama, love, and ladies he’s encountered—as well as the fantasies he once had for his future.
For bonus points, eat spaghetti and meatballs as you check out that famous Clint Eastwood movie, Sergio Leone’s 1966 “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” That’s right—it’s an Italian movie!