Travel with your imagination: 50+ movies and books set in Venice

    900 469 Venezia Autentica | Discover and Support the Authentic Venice

    Are you surprised to hear that there are countless books and movies about Venice?

    Of course you aren’t!

    Indeed, Venice has been the setting for literary and cinematic works for centuries, inspiring writers and artists for the longest time.

    In this article, you’ll find some of the most famous movies and books set in Venice.

    Are you ready to discover them and recreate Venice’s unique atmosphere at home? Let’s start

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    Famous Venice Movies

    Directors from all over the world have shot a wide number of movies set in Venice.

    The following list is a selection of some of the most famous and acclaimed ones.

    Summertime (1955)

    Travel with your imagination: 50+ movies and books set in Venice - Venezia Autentica | Discover and Support the Authentic Venice - Let's start with some movies first: 1 - Summertime (1955); 2 - Death in Venice (1971); 3 - Don't Look Now (1973); 4 - The Wings of the Dove (1997); 5 - The comfort of Strangers (1990)

    The film, directed by David Lean, stars Katharine Hepburn as Jane Hudson, a lonely secretary from Ohio.

    The movie follows Hudson’s experiences of touring Venice alone for the first time, during which she falls in love with an Italian antique dealer.

    Venice becomes a means of escape from Hudson’s mundane life at home and the site of a last chance for love.

    Death in Venice (1971)

    Travel with your imagination: 50+ movies and books set in Venice - Venezia Autentica | Discover and Support the Authentic Venice - Let's start with some movies first: 1 - Summertime (1955); 2 - Death in Venice (1971); 3 - Don't Look Now (1973); 4 - The Wings of the Dove (1997); 5 - The comfort of Strangers (1990)

    Luchino Visconti’s adaptation of Thomas Mann’s classic novella Death in Venice visually and thematically embodies Mann’s themes of decadence and debauchery.

    Set in the 1800s, during the Cholera epidemic, composer Gustav von Aschenbach travels to Venice to recover from serious health problems.

    He falls in love with a Polish adolescent staying at his hotel, the Grand Hôtel des Bains, and he feels alive again for a brief moment.

    However, his tragic love consumes him, turning into a meditation on lost youth and aesthetic beauty.

    Don’t Look Now (1973)

    Travel with your imagination: 50+ movies and books set in Venice - Venezia Autentica | Discover and Support the Authentic Venice - Let's start with some movies first: 1 - Summertime (1955); 2 - Death in Venice (1971); 3 - Don't Look Now (1973); 4 - The Wings of the Dove (1997); 5 - The comfort of Strangers (1990)

    Following the tragic death of their young daughter, an English couple (played by Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie) travel to Venice. Despite the change of scenery, they cannot escape their grief, and the tragedy haunts them.

    Throughout the movie, the couple doesn’t know what is real and what is an illusion. All we are left with is a clear image of a red coat and the feeling that even in beautiful Venice, danger lurks around every corner.

    The Comfort of Strangers (1990)

    Travel with your imagination: 50+ movies and books set in Venice - Venezia Autentica | Discover and Support the Authentic Venice - Let's start with some movies first: 1 - Summertime (1955); 2 - Death in Venice (1971); 3 - Don't Look Now (1973); 4 - The Wings of the Dove (1997); 5 - The comfort of Strangers (1990)

    In the movie The Comfort of Strangers, Natasha Richardson and Rupert Everett play a couple returning to Venice.

    Soon after they arrive, they meet a British-Italian couple who entice them into their mysterious lives…

    Everyone Says I Love You (1996)

    Travel with your imagination: 50+ movies and books set in Venice - Venezia Autentica | Discover and Support the Authentic Venice - Let's start with some movies first: 1 - Summertime (1955); 2 - Death in Venice (1971); 3 - Don't Look Now (1973); 4 - The Wings of the Dove (1997); 5 - The comfort of Strangers (1990)

    Everyone Says I Love You, a film by Woody Allen, follows the romantic adventures of a New York family.

    Joe (played by Allen himself) dates Von (Julia Roberts) in Venice, with the beautiful canals of Venice serving as a backdrop to the story.

    The Wings of the Dove (1997)

    Travel with your imagination: 50+ movies and books set in Venice - Venezia Autentica | Discover and Support the Authentic Venice - Let's start with some movies first: 1 - Summertime (1955); 2 - Death in Venice (1971); 3 - Don't Look Now (1973); 4 - The Wings of the Dove (1997); 5 - The comfort of Strangers (1990)

    Based on a novel written in 1902 by Henry James, the movie tells the story of  Millie Theale, a rich dying American who goes on her last Grand Tour, and of Kate Croy, an impoverished aristocrat unable to marry the love of her life.

    When the American heiress takes a liking to her lover, Kate comes up with a plan to take all her money…

    Venice is depicted in the film as it was in the early twentieth century: the gondolas, palazzi, and bridges of Venice are shown in a rich, period style.

    It is a story of deception and illness that finds the perfect backdrop in a Venice of decaying beauty.

    Dangerous Beauty (1998)

    Travel with your imagination: 50+ movies and books set in Venice - Venezia Autentica | Discover and Support the Authentic Venice - Let's start with some movies first: 1 - Summertime (1955); 2 - Death in Venice (1971); 3 - Don't Look Now (1973); 4 - The Wings of the Dove (1997); 5 - The comfort of Strangers (1990)

    Based on the non-fiction book The Honest Courtesan by Margaret Rosenthal, the film tells the story of Veronica Franco, the most famous prostitute in sixteenth-century Venice.

    Born in a modest family, Veronica’s mother advises her to become a courtesan, a well-paid, cultured prostitute like her mother and grandmother. Veronica is initially repulsed by the idea, but after learning that courtesans have access to libraries and education, she tentatively accepts it.

    In this role, she initially contributes to saving Venice and becomes a city hero but is later the target of a witchcraft inquisition by the Church and is saved by her only true love during the last moments of the trial.

    Bread and Tulips (1999)

    Travel with your imagination: 50+ movies and books set in Venice - Venezia Autentica | Discover and Support the Authentic Venice - Let's start with some movies first: 1 - Summertime (1955); 2 - Death in Venice (1971); 3 - Don't Look Now (1973); 4 - The Wings of the Dove (1997); 5 - The comfort of Strangers (1990)

    Bread and Tulips follows Rosalba, an Italian housewife who, after being accidentally left at a rest stop on her family holiday bus trip, decides to start a new life in Venice.

    And while discovering the city, she rediscovers herself, resulting in a story about passion, adultery, and ignoring your responsibilities.

    Italian for Beginners (2000)

    Travel with your imagination: 50+ movies and books set in Venice - Venezia Autentica | Discover and Support the Authentic Venice - Let's start with some movies first: 1 - Summertime (1955); 2 - Death in Venice (1971); 3 - Don't Look Now (1973); 4 - The Wings of the Dove (1997); 5 - The comfort of Strangers (1990)

    “Italian for Beginners” follows the lives of six insecure singles whose lives intertwine during a bleak Copenhagen winter.

    Primarily set in Denmark, the movie brings together a diverse group of people who join an Italian language class.

    When one of the members receives a large inheritance, she uses the funds to take her entire class to Venice, a trip where participants will find love and a happy solution to their problems.

    The Merchant of Venice (2004)

    Travel with your imagination: 50+ movies and books set in Venice - Venezia Autentica | Discover and Support the Authentic Venice - Let's start with some movies first: 1 - Summertime (1955); 2 - Death in Venice (1971); 3 - Don't Look Now (1973); 4 - The Wings of the Dove (1997); 5 - The comfort of Strangers (1990)

    The film, directed by David Lean, stars Katharine Hepburn as Jane Hudson, a lonely secretary from Ohio.

    The movie follows Hudson’s experiences of touring Venice alone for the first time, during which she falls in love with an Italian antique dealer.

    Venice becomes a means of escape from Hudson’s mundane life at home and the site of a last chance for love.

    Casanova (2005)

    Travel with your imagination: 50+ movies and books set in Venice - Venezia Autentica | Discover and Support the Authentic Venice - Let's start with some movies first: 1 - Summertime (1955); 2 - Death in Venice (1971); 3 - Don't Look Now (1973); 4 - The Wings of the Dove (1997); 5 - The comfort of Strangers (1990)

    The film follows the exploits of the famous Venetian seducer Giacomo Casanova, a womanizer who has never been turned down.

    However, one day he meets the first woman who does not appear to be interested in him.

    The Tourist (2009)

    Travel with your imagination: 50+ movies and books set in Venice - Venezia Autentica | Discover and Support the Authentic Venice - Let's start with some movies first: 1 - Summertime (1955); 2 - Death in Venice (1971); 3 - Don't Look Now (1973); 4 - The Wings of the Dove (1997); 5 - The comfort of Strangers (1990)

    Starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, The Tourist centres around math teacher Frank and Elise, an undercover Scotland Yard agent.

    Critics and audience agree it’s a terrible film, but the scenery is worth it if you have already watched all the other movies about Venice.

    Atlantide (2021)

    Travel with your imagination: 50+ movies and books set in Venice - Venezia Autentica | Discover and Support the Authentic Venice - Let's start with some movies first: 1 - Summertime (1955); 2 - Death in Venice (1971); 3 - Don't Look Now (1973); 4 - The Wings of the Dove (1997); 5 - The comfort of Strangers (1990)

    Daniele is a 24 year old guy who lives in Sant’Erasmo, a rural island in the Venice Lagoon.

    Although lonely and marginalized by his peers, he shares with them the passion for small local boats and the obsessive desire to have the fastest of them all

    Veneciafrenia (2021)

    Travel with your imagination: 50+ movies and books set in Venice - Venezia Autentica | Discover and Support the Authentic Venice - Let's start with some movies first: 1 - Summertime (1955); 2 - Death in Venice (1971); 3 - Don't Look Now (1973); 4 - The Wings of the Dove (1997); 5 - The comfort of Strangers (1990)

    A group of young Spanish tourists travel to Venice to have a good time.

    Venetians, however, had had enough of mass tourism and are not in a welcoming mood for more visitors.

    Once there, the dream of being in Venice becomes a nightmare, and the group has to fight to stay alive.

    Other movies showing Venice

    Other movies don’t have Venice as their main setting, but they can be fun to watch and offer some eye candy to Venice lovers:

    From Russia with Love (1963), Fellini’s Casanova (1976), Moonraker (1979), Brideshead Revisited (2008), Unforgiveable (2011), One Chance (2013), Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019),

    Famous Venice Books

    For centuries, the city has inspired countless authors to create books about Venice.

    Some of these books are carefully researched non-fiction works, while others are set in Venice but stem from the imagination of the writers.

    At the end of the article, a section on its own is dedicated to Donna Leon’s books featuring the Commissario Guido Brunetti.

    Nonfiction Venice Books

    This is a list in chronological order of nonfiction books about Venice or telling a story set in Venice.

    • A History of Venice (John Julius Norwich, 1977). Norwich’s exciting account spans more than a century, from Venice’s fifth-century origins to Napoleon’s arrival.
    • The City of Falling Angels (John Berendt, 2005). An acclaimed author gradually unravels the true story of the 1996 fire that destroyed Venice’s Opera House La Fenice.
    • A Venetian Affair (Andrea di Robilant, 2003). Based on letters discovered in a Venetian palazzo, it tells a true love story between an aristocrat and an illegitimate girl in 18th-century Venice.
    • Venice: The Tourist Maze (Robert C. Davis and Garry R. Marvin, 2004). This book about the history of tourism in Venice shows how too much interest in the city is currently killing it.
    • Venice: Lion City (Garry Wills, 2001). The history of Venice in the 15th and 16th centuries, recounted by one of America’s greatest historians.
    • A Literary Companion to Venice (Ian Littlewood, 1992). A collection of seven walking tours that show the influence of Venice on writers such as Byron, Goethe, James, Proust, Lawrence, and Pound.
    • The Venetian Empire: A Sea Voyage (Jan Morris, 1990). In this book, Morris brings to life a maritime empire that depicts the city’s place in a larger historical context.

    Fiction Venice Books

    This is a list in chronological order of fiction books about Venice or telling a story set in Venice.

    • The Merchant of Venice (William Shakespeare, 1598). Antonio, a local merchant, takes a loan from the Jew Shylock to help a friend to court a woman. When Antonio can’t repay the loan, Shylock shows no mercy and demands…
    • Italian Journey (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1786). In this book, Goethe describes his travels to Rome, Venice, Sicily, and Naples.
    • Death in Venice (Thomas Mann, 1912). Death in Venice is a classic set in Venice during the plague about obsession, beauty, and death.
    • The Passion (Jeanette Winterson, 1987). A complex love story set in Venice in the Napoleonic era, and a good balance of magical & realist fiction.
    • The Rossetti Letter (Christi Phillips, 2007). This novel, which alternates between past and present, investigates the legacy of a mysterious courtesan in 17th-century Venice.
    • The Four Seasons : A Novel of Vivaldi’s Venice (Laurel Corona, 2008). Two  sisters who were abandoned are brought up in an orphanage to be musicians. One ends up marrying an aristocratic, while the other becomes Vivaldi’s muse when he comes to teach at the orphanage. A romance about society, love, art, music and womens ‘place’ in 18th-century Venice told through the voice of the two sisters.
    • The Glassblower of Murano (Marina Fiorato, 2009). A glassblower in the 17th century reveals trade secrets to the French, which has ramifications for his descendants in the twenty-first century.
    Travel with your imagination: 50+ movies and books set in Venice - Venezia Autentica | Discover and Support the Authentic Venice - Let's start with some movies first: 1 - Summertime (1955); 2 - Death in Venice (1971); 3 - Don't Look Now (1973); 4 - The Wings of the Dove (1997); 5 - The comfort of Strangers (1990)

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    Donna Leon's Guido Brunetti books

    This is a list in chronological order of all Donna Leon’s Guido Brunetti books about Venice or telling a story set in Venice.

    • Death at La Fenice (1992)
    • Death in a Strange Country (1993)
    • The Anonymous Venetian (1994) aka Dressed for Death
    • A Venetian Reckoning (1995) aka Death and Judgment
    • Acqua Alta (1996) aka Death in High Water
    • The Death of Faith (1997) aka Quietly in Their Sleep
    • A Noble Radiance (1997)
    • Fatal Remedies (1999)
    • Friends in High Places (2000)
    • A Sea of Troubles (2001)
    • Willful Behaviour (2002)
    • Uniform Justice (2003)
    • Doctored Evidence (2004)
    • Blood from a Stone (2005)
    • Through a Glass, Darkly (2006)
    • Suffer the Little Children (2007)
      The Girl of His Dreams (2008)
    • About Face (2009)
    • A Question of Belief (2010)
    • Drawing Conclusions (2011)
    • Beastly Things (2012)
    • The Golden Egg
    • By Its Cover (2014)
      Falling in Love (2015)
    • The Waters of Eternal Youth (2016)
    • Earthly Remains (2017)
    • The Temptation of Forgiveness (2018)
    • Unto Us a Son Is Given (2019)
    • Trace Elements (2020)
    • Transient Desires (2021)
    • Give Unto Others (2022)

    To have a brief summary of every book, you can check out the dedicated Wikipedia article about Guido Brunetti’s adventures.

    The first 26 Guido Brunetti novels have been made into movies for the German television channel ARD.

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