Travel (or romance for that matter) might be tricky at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t let the magic of movies transport you to new places. As a warm-up for Valentine’s Day, we’ve listed five idyllic movies that will help reinvigorate your wanderlust and inspire post-lockdown adventures in sunnier climes.
Our carefully compiled list of films will take you on an enchanted stroll through Vienna, evoke the thrill of a summer romance in Greece and make you long for sun-drenched days in rural Italy and France. Now only one question remains: which of these destinations will you go to first when we can travel again?
Purple Noon (1960)
Before there was The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) there was Purple Noon, a French adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s enduring novel about con-man Tom Ripley (played by French heartthrob Alain Delon in a star-making turn).
The movie follows the down-and-out Ripley as he becomes obsessed with the privileged life of American playboy Philippe Greenleaf and his friends. Director René Clément’s vision offers irresistibly sun-drenched images of Italian summer escapes, from the island of Procida to the beaches of Ischia. If you want to experience the places for yourself, head to Naples and take a short ferry ride to the isles.
You might also like: La Piscine (1969).
Before Sunrise (1995)
We couldn’t make a list of romantic travel movies without including Before Sunrise. Richard Linklater’s classic features Céline (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) who meet-cute on a train to Vienna and decide to spend the day (and night) together.
The Franco-American couple stroll through the Austrian capital, which serves as a lavish Baroque backdrop to their spontaneous romance. This life-affirming flick will not only make you want to explore Vienna but also remind you that love can happen where you least expect it—as long as you’re willing to get off at the right stop.
You might also like: Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2013).
Pierrot le Fou (1965)
French New Wave auteur Jean-Luc Godard directed his then-wife Anna Karina, and Jean-Paul Belmondo in this vividly colored romantic adventure. Fun fact: The tricolors of the French flag (red, white, and blue) are reflected in every scene.
The film portrays two lovers, Marianne and Ferdinand, as they escape their lives in Paris and go on the run together to the South of France in a quest for freedom. What follows is a unique and stylish vision of their unorthodox life together, with the glittering Mediterranean Sea and its pebbled beaches in the background. A majority of the scenes were filmed in the Var region, a well-kept secret in the South of France, located just between Provence and the Côte d’Azur. Head to Var’s capital city Toulon to create your very own French adventure!
You might also like: Bonjour Tristesse (1958).
Summer Lovers (1982)
Summer Lovers is a cheesy romance about young American couple Michael (Peter Gallagher) and Cathy (Darryl Hannah, in an early role) on a steamy Greek vacation.
They rent a house in Santorini where they meet Lina (Valérie Quennessen), and one thing soon leads to another. The movie is directed by Randal Kleiser (also known for Grease and The Blue Lagoon) who got the idea for the film while holidaying in Greece and seeing the uninhibited lifestyle on display. Santorini is the perfect setting for the languid film, with its whitewashed villas and turquoise waters. Add a banging 1980s soundtrack, mullets and lots of topless tanning to the mix and you have a Grecian fantasy even Aristophanes would enjoy.
You might also like: Zorba the Greek (1964).
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
Who hasn’t daydreamed of packing their belongings and moving to Italy? In Under the Tuscan Sun, writer and divorcée Frances (Diane Lane) impulsively decides to leave her teaching job in San Francisco to renovate a dilapidated villa in the Italian countryside (cause, why not?).
The movie was directed by Audrey Wells and shot in the Tuscan hilltop town of Cortona in Arezzo, which became a popular tourist destination after the film’s release. Some scenes also take place in Positano on the Amalfi Coast. This feel-good movie shows how new chapters can open up at any stage in your life, just as long as you’re ready for the journey.
You might also like: A Room With a View (1985)