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Great movies that inspire you to travel

By A. Pawlowski, CNN
  • Many films make you want to go on location yourself, thanks to the scenery or cinematography
  • Film critic: People start dreaming about a place, and the next thing they know, they're there
  • Modern picks include "Sideways," "Under the Tuscan Sun" and "Out of Africa"
  • Classic choices include "Roman Holiday" and "Summertime"

(CNN) -- One of the most popular tourist photo-ops in Rome, Italy, has visitors lining up at an old church and pretending their hand may soon be devoured by a giant marble face.

Ask them why they have come to risk their digits inside the Bocca della Verità, or Mouth of Truth -- legend has it that it will chomp down on liars -- and many will say "Roman Holiday," the classic movie that famously showed Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck exploring this and other Eternal City landmarks.

It's one of many films that make you want to say "ciao" to home and go on location yourself. After all, movies have been making settings as alluring as their stars thanks to stunning scenery or unforgettable cinematography.

"Sometimes, it can really inspire people to visit a place," said Jay Boyar, a film critic and author of "Films to Go: 100 Memorable Movies for Travelers & Others."

"They'll see the beauty of a city or a country, and they'll just start dreaming about that place, and the next thing they know, they're there."

We've put together a list of movies that have inspired people to travel. The selections are based on some personal preferences and an informal survey of our newsroom, but the list is by no means definitive, and we invite you to name your favorites in the comment section below.

• "Before Sunrise" (1995) and "Before Sunset" (2004) -- In "Before Sunrise," Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy star as young travelers who meet on a train in Europe and impulsively decide to walk around Vienna, Austria, in the hours before he has to catch a plane back to the United States. Filled with conversation and romantic Viennese backdrops, the movie inspired a sequel starring both actors set in Paris, France, nine years after the characters parted ways. "I like them both, but somehow, I like 'Before Sunset' better. It shows you the out-of-the-way places in Paris," Boyar said. "Julie Delpy, who is French, actually was one of the people who helped select locations. You really get that native sense of the place that you don't get in a lot of other movies."

"Under the Tuscan Sun" (2003) -- Based on a memoir by writer Frances Mayes, the film follows a recently divorced American woman, played by Diane Lane, who decides to buy and renovate a villa in Tuscany, the beautiful northwest region of Italy. The story actually inspired about 20 expats to purchase houses near Mayes in the town of Cortona, and tourists regularly flock to the area to see where she lives, the author said.

Read an interview with the author of "Under the Tuscan Sun"

"Sideways" (2004) -- Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church play two buddies who take a trip to California's wine country before one of them gets married. "You really do get a wonderful sense of that area," Boyar said, citing scenes that showed grape pickers, sun-soaked vineyards, wine tastings and the culinary pleasures of the region. The movie was filmed near Santa Barbara but had a great impact on tourism in Napa Valley because many people assumed that's where the story took place, said Erica Ercolano, a marketing consultant for Many people still cite the flick when booking their vacations, she added.

"Summertime" (1955) -- The romantic canals and piazzas of Venice, Italy, share a starring role with Katharine Hepburn, who plays a single American woman exploring the city on her dream vacation and finding love. Legendary director David Lean pays tribute to the beauty of Venice in virtually every frame, from the pleasures of sipping espresso in Piazza San Marco to wandering the narrow streets as gondolas float by. Fans of the movie can check out (and check into) the Pensione Accademia Villa Maravege, which was used as the boarding house where Hepburn's character stayed.

The "Bourne Identity" and James Bond series -- OK, the places can flash by pretty quickly in these movies, especially if the characters are taking part in yet another car chase with the bad guy, but the locations are often fun and spectacular. Think the Bahamas and Italy in "Casino Royale," and Morocco, Germany and England in "The Bourne Ultimatum." "That's like a series of postcards from all different cities," Boyar said. "Sometimes, you say that might be interesting to check out." Plus, the fact that Jason Bourne and "007" can zip all over the globe seemingly at their whim can inspire some major wanderlust.

"Out of Africa" (1985) -- There is a scene in which Robert Redford's character takes his lover, played by Meryl Streep, on a biplane ride of such spectacular beauty over Kenya that it's almost too much to take in. Waterfalls, mountains, rivers, hundreds of birds taking off in unison from a body of water and a perfect beach all flash by, leaving the lovers and the viewers stunned. Set in the early 20th century and based on a memoir by Baroness Karen Blixen (writing under the name of Isak Dinesen), the film also features sweeping views of Kenya's grasslands and a taste of what it's like to be on a safari. Tourism in Kenya reportedly jumped in the year after the movie was released.

"Enchanted April" (1992) -- The misery of rainy London, England, is replaced by the warmth of Italy for four women who rent a castle in the 1920s to try to get away from their spouses, lovers and everyday lives. The movie was filmed at Castello Brown, above the resort town of Portofino, and showcased the region's gorgeous setting and views. "That's a beautiful movie, and it also has that lovely sense of being off on your own and happily isolated by a little enchanted Never Never Land, which is a feeling you sometimes want to have on a vacation -- that you're really away from your usual life and you can be a different person," Boyar said.

"The English Patient" (1996) -- Filmed in Tunisia and Italy, the movie flashes back and forth between exotic desert landscapes and the Tuscan countryside as it tells the story of a dying man, played by Ralph Fiennes, his mysterious past and the young nurse who takes care of him. Set at the end of World War II, the film can give your tear ducts a pretty intense workout. But it can also inspire longing to see some of the desert canyons, massive sand dunes and caves featured in the African portion of the movie, as well as the small-town beauty of rural Tuscany.