Five films set in Sicily you should absolutely watch

With all its beautiful landscapes and locations, and with the picturesque and one-of-a-kind atmosphere and culture it boasts, it’s no wonder that Sicily has a long and interesting list of films that have been entirely or partially set/shot in the island. From local productions to Hollywood blockbusters, such as Ocean’s Twelve (some of its scenes were filmed in the beautiful bay of Scopello, western Sicily), the choice is varied and wide: here’s the top 5 films set and shot in Sicily that we feel you definitely should watch!

Villa Boscogrande Palermo

Villa Boscogrande in Palermo was the residence of Prince of Salina’s family in The Leopard – image via

– Il Gattopardo (The Leopard): first released during summer 1963, the film was directed by Luchino Visconti, one of the most appreciated Italian directors of all time, and boasts an international cast including Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, Claudia Cardinale and Terence Hill. The Leopard was inspirated by the book “Il Gattopardo”, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa‘s masterpiece, and won the Palme D’Or prize at Cannes Film Festival. The film tells the story of the noble and refined Prince of Salina trying to preserve his family during the social revolutions of late Nineteenth Century in Sicily, and it was mainly shot in Palermo, the Castle of Donnafugata (Ragusa area), Santa Margherita di Belice in western Sicily and the town of Ciminna (Palermo countryside).

Bar Vitelli Savoca

Bar Vitelli in Savoca, made famous by the scenes from The Godfather by Francis Ford Coppola – image via wikipedia by Rosario Pappalardo

– The Godfather Saga: the first film of this world-famous trilogy, The Godfather by Francis Ford Coppola (1972), is still considered nowadays one of the best productions of all time. We all appreciated Marlon Brando‘s performance playing Don Vito Corleone, and all the other great actors including Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in the following sequels. The Godfather was mainly shot in New York, but the scenes set in Corleone were filmed in Fiumefreddo di Sicilia (near Catania), Forza D’Agrò, Savoca and Motta Camastra (in the province of Messina), that were also chosen for The Godfather II, while the Massimo Theatre in Palermo is the setting of one of the key scenes of The Godfather III.

See also: The Sicilian flag, between history and mythology

Il Postino: The Postman: this 1994 film was directed by Michael Redford, its screenplay was adapted from a novel by Antonio Skàrmeta, “Ardiente Paciencia”, and the story is about poet Pablo Neruda being exiled and having to move to a small island in Italy. Its postman, Mario, was played by Massimo Troisi, a great Italian actor who sadly died the day after the filming was over. Il Postino was partially shot in the beautiful island of Salina, in the Aeolian archipelago.

Palermo shooting

A key scene from Palermo Shooting, with the whole city and the seaside in the background – image via

Palermo Shooting: directed by worldwide-famous Wim Wenders, this 2008 film is about a successful German photographer who realizes that his busy life is meaningless and decides to start fresh and move to Palermo looking for new incitement and striving to find a purpose for his life. The film was almost entirely shot in some of the most picturesque and beautiful sites of Palermo: from the Vucciria Market to Mount Pellegrino, you’ll have the chance to see an outstanding celebration of this marvelous city.

Baarìa: this 2009 film directed by Giuseppe Tornatore opened the 66th International Film Festival in Venice and was broadly appreciated not only for its soundtrack (by Ennio Morricone) but also for its extraordinary representation of some of the most traditional and peculiar traits of the culture of Sicily. Characters speak in local dialect, which is why the film was even dubbed in Italian – for non-Sicilians would not be able to understand almost 90% of the film! The title, Baarìa, is the dialect for Bagheria, a town not far from Palermo where the film is set and was entirely filmed.

2 thoughts on “Five films set in Sicily you should absolutely watch

  1. Erik Christiansen

    I’m trying to find the filming location of Don Ciccio’s villa from The Godfather Part II. No, it isn’t Castello degli Schiavi, which was used in all three films. It is only used in two scenes in the second film. First, when Vito’s mother is killed, and from which Vito escapes. Second, when the adult Vito returns to Sicily to kill Don Ciccio in revenge.

    Any clues?


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