Fellini, De Sica, Rossellini, Visconti, Antonioni--Italian cinema has its fair share of masters. This top ten isn't meant as an end-all list to the great films of Italy, but as a starting-off point for exploration. Ciao ciao!
1. La Strada
Italian film is unthinkable without Federico Fellini, and this heartbreaking classic about a poor girl who is taken away by a cruel strongman to become a circus performer is impossible to resist. With wonderful performances by Anthony Quinn and Giulietta Masina. For more early Fellini, check out Nights of Cabiria, also with Masina.
2. Umberto D.
Vittorio De Sica's 1952 neo-realist film about an old man who is stripped of his dignity is sad but not sentimental. We prefer it to The Bicycle Thief.
3. 1900Bernardo Bertolucci's epic history about a peasant and a land owner over the course of the first half of the century stars Robert De Niro and Gerard Depardieu. If you don't have the time (1900 is over five hours long), try The Conformist.
Gillo Pontecorvo's legendary re-telling of the struggle for Algerian independence from France is a timelessly powerful film.
7. Open CityRoberto Rossellini's landmark film portrays the struggle of Rome's citizens during the final days of World War II.
8. L'AvventuraMonica Vitti plays a woman searching for a missing friend in the Mediterranean in Michelangelo Antonioni's breakthrough film.
9. The Leopard
Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale and Alain Delon star in an epic story of elegiac grace in Luchino Visconti's Sicilian tale of revolution and decline.