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On Location: From the Big Screen to Your Next Trip

It only took watching Diane Lane speed down the Amalfi Coast road towards Positano to convince me to go to Southern Italy, and that particular scene in Under the Tuscan Sun still wows me every time. With an aerial view of the sparkling Mediterranean, the dramatic backdrop of sheer cliffs; the series of small sundrenched towns; and the windy road that weaves between – the entire scene had me sold. If anyone still didn’t know about Positano, they certainly would after watching that film.

From Roman Holiday to Eat Pray Love, I admit to being a sucker for romantic movies, especially when they involve travel.  But despite the sickly-sweet story lines of most, you have to love the dramatic scenery, and how the film teases you into thinking about a place in a whole new way. It’s fluffy films like this that are largely responsible for my trips to Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast – and next month I’ll be traveling to be Provence, inspired after seeing A Good Year.

Of course, many movies are based on books, but, when it comes to inspiring travel, movies do something to inspire that books just can’t. Seeing a visual appetizer, especially on the big screen, can be so powerful to give us a taste of what a destination might be like. It can whet our appetite, get us curious, and, if it’s really amazing, it can quickly float a location to the top of our bucket lists. Of course, these kinds of movies are perfect too for that rainy Sunday when all you want to do is transport yourself to Tuscany or Paris for a few hours.

The other common element I’ve found in these films is they often have an underlying theme of self-discovery. From Letters to Juliet to A Good Year, and especially Eat Pray Love, the characters all discover things about themselves as they go through their journey in the film. The same thing can happen to you when you travel in real life. You can be the lead character in your own movie, and going it alone can be even more enriching — I’m always inspired to sneak in another solo trip in when I see movies like this. Like the characters in these films, on or off camera, travel experiences like this can change your life.

Here are my top 10 picks for travel inspiration (or rainy Sunday nights), in no particular order:

  • Under the Tuscan Sun: Starring Diane Lane and based on the book by Frances Mayes (Tuscany, Amalfi Coast)
  • Eat Pray Love: Starring Julia Roberts and based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert (Rome, Bali, India)
  • Letters to Juliet: Starring Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Redgrave  (Verona, Tuscany)
  • The Tourist: Starring Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp (Paris, Venice)
  • Mamma Mia: Starring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan (Greece)
  • A Good Year: Starring Russell Crowe (Provence)
  • The Lord of the Rings: Starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen and based on the books by J. R. R. Tolkien (New Zealand)
  • My Life in Ruins: Starring Nia Vardalos (Greece)
  • Julie & Julia: Starring Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci (Paris)
  • Roman Holiday: Starring Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck (Rome)

What movies have inspired you to travel? Let me know @mindyjoyce