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From Italy with Love. Cheryl Adnams on her favourite Italian-set Romance Films


From Italy with Love. Cheryl Adnams on her favourite Italian-set Romance Films

In my new release Heart of the River, my hero is an Australian born into an Italian family that emigrated to Australia from Naples before World War II. I enjoyed being able to infuse my love and knowledge of Italian culture into this story.

My love affair with Italy began in the nineties and I have visited Italy seven times since then. I adore everything about the country and its culture: the history, the architecture, the language, the food – oh my word, THE FOOD – and the films that have been made and continue to be made in and about this beautiful country.

Here are some of my favourite Italian-based romantic films:

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

Well, this is a no-brainer and I think everyone has this film as a favourite. Based loosely on the novel by Frances Mayes, the character Frances (played by Diane Lane) impulsively buys a house in Tuscany after a terrible divorce in a bid to start her life over. Set in the gloriously stunning Tuscan town of Cortona (and, yes, I have been there), Frances works on remodelling her house. On a trip to Rome she meets Marcello, who whisks her off to Positano on the Amalfi Coast – one of my favourite places in the world – and they embark on a short love affair. But life gets in the way and Frances and Marcello don’t quite have the happy ending she was hoping for. Of course, Frances does get what she wished for in her newly completed house – a wedding, a baby and, at the last minute, a new love. I think we all wanted to buy a house in Tuscany after seeing this film.

Watch it on: Disney +

Letters to Juliet (2003)

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) travels to Verona with her fiancé Victor on a pre-wedding honeymoon. Victor, a chef, is more obsessed with wine tasting and cooking than he is with spending time with his fiancée and so Sophie must occupy herself. She meets the Secretaries of Juliet, a person whose job it is to collect all the love notes left at Juliet’s balcony and answer them. Sophie finds an unanswered letter from Claire left fifty years before and responds, and Claire shows up in Verona with her grandson Charlie in tow (Australian Christopher Egan). Together the three drive across Italy searching for Claire’s first love, Lorenzo. While the main romance in this film is between Sophie and Charlie, for me the biggest love story here is between Claire and Lorenzo, partly because it is so sweet to see two older people find each other, and love, again after so many years, but also because the characters are played by real-life husband and wife Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero. Oh, my heart!

Watch it on: Binge

Roman Holiday (1953)

The princess and the press – a story we know all too well, right? But when reporter Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) first meets Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn), he doesn’t know who she is. Having been given an injection to relax her, Ann has escaped the embassy to roam Rome (ha), for once feeling the freedom she is so often denied. Joe thinks she is drunk and takes her to his apartment to sleep it off. When he realises later who he has in his flat, he rushes home and offers to show Ann around Rome so that he can get a story and photographs. She declines and takes off on her own, but Joe follows and accidentally runs into her again and they spend time together and enjoy a few kisses by the Tiber. While Joe seems a little dastardly with his intention to get the story, in the end he does the right thing by Ann. It’s not your average love story in that there is no happy ending for Joe and Ann – she is a princess, after all. But the romance of it is that Joe cares so much for Ann that he would give up the story of a lifetime for her. And Rome in the 1950s are spectacular.

Watch it on: Amazon Prime


Cheryl Adnams has published four Australian rural romance novels and three Australian historical novels. Cheryl has a Diploma in Freelance Travel Writing and Photography and has lived and worked in the United States and Canada, and spent two years working with a tour company in Europe. While she loves to travel overseas, especially to Italy, her favourite writing retreat is her own home on the stunning blue coastline of South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula. When she’s not writing, Cheryl is still creating in her busy full-time job as a learning designer.

Don’t miss Heart of the River

As floodwaters rise, can their love bring a fractured community together?

Mildura, Northern Victoria – 1956

Isabel Hayward has ambitions of being a great chef. But cooking for the locals at the country pub she and her mother run doesn’t really allow for experimenting with haute cuisine.

When she meets local Italian farmer Matteo Sorrenti, their connection is instant and intense – much to the displeasure of Ross Burrows, one of the region’s wealthiest sons, who has been keen on Isabel since they were kids.

Isabel and Matteo’s blossoming relationship has challenges to overcome: their cultural differences, prejudice, Ross’s jealousy, and the worst flood in Australia’s history.

As the Murray River rises to its peak, threatening the Sorrentis’ farm and the Haywards’ pub, secrets are revealed that show Matteo, Isabel and Ross are inextricably linked by their fathers’ wartime experiences. Will the secrets their fathers kept threaten Isabel and Matteo’s relationship? Or can their love break down the remnants of prejudice left behind by the war?

‘A love story set against the background of old secrets, deep resentments and the unstoppable forces of nature. A fabulous insight into the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. An unputdownable read from Cheryl Adnams.’ – Alison Stuart, author of The Postmistress

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