10 Movies That Inspire Wanderlust (& What To Eat To Get In The Mood)

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It's not hard for people to feel the familiar pangs of wanderlust, especially when watching films set in foreign lands.
No living, breathing human can watch "Mamma Mia" (tip: try watching on mute) and not yearn to be on an island in Greece.

Few have ever watched "Before Sunrise" and thought, "meh - I guess Vienna's all right." Even "Up in the Air" turned business travel into pleasure travel, letting all work-aholics rejoice in Platinum airline cards.

Movies like these can inspire people to travel to a new country, try a new cuisine, or even just see a favorite city in a new light. Next time the need to travel strikes, try a cheaper solution and screen one of these ten films- complete with food pairings.--Nicole Campoy-Leffler

Text courtesy of The Daily Meal.

10 Movies That Inspire Travel
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10 Movies That Inspire Wanderlust (& What To Eat To Get In The Mood) (PHOTOS)

"Under the Tuscan Sun" starts as Frances’ (Diane Lane) marriage is crumbling. Egged on by friends, Frances goes on a bus tour through Italy (rather than staying in a sad temporary apartment) and, after a few fateful occurrences, ends up buying a Tuscan villa on a whim. It doesn’t take much for her to read the signs before her — a fabulous woman in a bold, feathered hat that encourages her and a herd of sheep that stop her bus in front of a gorgeous villa. As she stops in Rome, becomes an increasingly better cook, picks grapes on her neighbor’s vineyard, and saunters down to Positano, she makes it seem like buying a crumbling villa in Italy is the best decision anyone’s ever made.
What to serve to get in the travel mood?
Stoke the sumptuous Italian-ness of this film by serving a heaping bowl of pasta. A deep Italian red wine will go perfectly.

Flickr/Claudio Vaccaro

An homage to all things wine, "Sideways" is the story of a divorced novelist and a groom-to-be celebrating with a weekend of wine tasting in Santa Barbara, California. Their trip, planned by Miles (Paul Giamatti), takes us through wine tasting rooms to vineyards and back again before he and Jack (Thomas Haden Church) meet two local ladies. Showcasing some of the central coast’s most beautiful areas from Lompoc to Los Olivos, the film does try to remove some of the snobbery inherent in wine. Watching Miles identify the notes of strawberry and a hint of nutty cheese, while Jack is still chewing gum, somehow makes wine tasting in California that much more enticing.  

What to serve to get in the travel mood? Definitely not a bottle of Merlot! Serve something from your growing cellar with all the accoutrements — cheese, charcuterie, and maybe this Brussel Sprouts Salad with Marcona Almonds and Pecorino Cheese.

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What "Sideways" did for California’s central coast, "A Good Year" does for Provence, France. Not that the South of France needed any extra PR, but the film puts Provence in a most beautiful light. From the charming sidewalk café where Fanny Chenal (Marion Cotillard) works to the crumbling estate left to Max Skinner (Russell Crowe) by his late uncle, this film makes you believe that a fast-paced banker living the high life in London actually would give it all up for a life of wine and romance in France. Every flashback of Max with his insatiable, vibrant uncle — whether amongst the vines or playing ball in the house — will make you yearn for the laid back, lavender-scented life in Provence.

What to serve to get in the travel mood? A glass of rosé would be perfect to serve with an omelette and a salad.

Flickr/Jan & Peggy

Few films come to mind that are so beautiful and so creepy. "The Talented Mr. Ripley" has both qualities in spades. The story follows Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) who is sent to retrieve a young philandering playboy named Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law) from his travels in Europe. Dickie’s travels are what fantasies are made of. Tom finds Dickie and Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow) lounging in the sun in Italy, gallivanting from parties to cafes to boats to villas and back again, and decides to join them. Who wouldn’t, really, but soon after, the film turns away from the stunning travelogue it started out as and toward the thriller it ends up being.   

What to serve to get in the travel mood? Make some Sicilian Meatballs, Octopus Salad, and a Baked Ricotta Cake for a taste of Sicily.

Flickr/dirk huijssoon

Not strictly a travel film, "500 Days of Summer" is a love letter to LA that should inspire travelers to visit the city of angels just as it should inspire locals to see a new side of their city. Showcasing parts of LA not often seen on the big screen, like Downtown LA and Silver Lake, the film chronicles the highs and lows of a 500 day long love affair. As Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) falls for Summer (Zooey Deschanel), he takes her (and by extension, us) on a grand tour of the architecture and culture of Los Angeles. From singing karaoke at the Redwood Bar and Grill down to the scene at the Bradbury Building, Los Angeles is a whole new town in this film.

What to serve to get in the travel mood? Make pancakes, as served in the film (try this Lemon-Ricotta Pancake recipe).

Flickr/juan tan kwon

"Julie & Julia" is one of the most travel-inspiring films, complete with scenes of Paris in the 1950s and mouthwatering food throughout. Watching as Julia and Paul Childs (Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci) unveil the creamy, buttery wonders of French cooking might have been enough. But, then Julie Powell (Amy Adams) cooks her way through Julia’s famed cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, discovering a surprising love of eggs and enough confidence to bone a duck along the way. From the Childs’ first French meal at La Couronne in Rouen to Powell’s pilgrimage to a museum exhibit on Julia Childs, every part of this film inspires you to try everything at home and on the road.

What to serve to get in the travel mood? For the ambitious host, try making Julia’s famous Boeuf Bourguignon. For some movie-inspired snacks, serve a French Onion Soup and a Fresh Berry Galette, alongside a couple of kir royales.¨

Flickr/William Forester

Back east, there is one film that loves New York City more than any other: Woody Allen’s classic "Manhattan". A confused, hilarious love affair between Isaac (Woody Allen) and Mary (Diane Keaton) serves as the backdrop for a movie that explores Manhattan from top to bottom. From the old-fashioned cinemas to the waterfront and from the lights of Time Square to Isaac’s “corny” date with younger woman Tracy (Muriel Hemingway) on a horse-pulled buggy in Central Park, the film shows the city in a sexy film noir style. With this film as a guide, you’ll find that that Manhattan still exists.

What to serve to get in the travel mood? Try your hand at making a classic Manhattan to serve alongside a homemade Margherita pizza and a slice of cheesecake.

Flickr/Marcus Nordstrom

Woody Allen’s first love is New York, but "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" is set in Spain and will make you want to listen to acoustic Spanish guitar on repeat. Vicky (Rebecca Hall) is in Barcelona to study Gaudí’s architecture and takes us on a tour of the wildly romantic and gothic city. Once they board the bumpy plane ride from Barcelona to Oviedo, you can tell the adventure will be a beautiful and fruitful one. Vicky and Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) explore the town and his father’s rustic home together, while Cristina is sick and bedridden in a grand, classic old hotel. Broken down on a map, this film would be a perfect Catalan itinerary.

What to serve to get in the travel mood?  Snacks like marcona almonds, manchego cheese, and pan con tomate will get you and your fellow viewers in the mood. For a larger meal, try making this Oven Paella with Chicken, Shrimp, and Chorizo. Go with a bottle of chilled Albariño.

Bert Kaufmann/Flickr

On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have "Lost in Translation". There is no European romance about this film, which ends up inspiring travel if for no other reason than to discover who you’ll meet and what misadventures you’ll get into. Anyone who has seen this film, which is set in Tokyo, will remember the hilarity of Bob Harris (Bill Murray) trying to shoot a commercial for Suntory whiskey and meeting Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) in their hotel bar. This film tugs at the travel-to-find-oneself quotient as both main characters are lost in one way or another and their sense of foreign-found freedom is infectious. There is no denying that traveling inspires everyone to let their hair down a little, which is what this film will remind you of.

What to serve to get in the travel mood? You should obviously serve whiskey. Make these Sesame-Spinach Onigiri (rice balls) and tempura vegetables as themed snacks.


Exquisite and slow-moving, "Cairo Time" is an ode to Egypt’s capital city. Juliette (Patricia Clarkson) travels to Cairo to visit her husband, who is stuck working in Gaza. Guided, unexpectedly, by a former (and handsome) colleague of her husband’s named Tareq (Alexander Siddig), Juliette wants only to explore. The two of them discover their surrounds by land and sea, attending a wedding just outside of the city, and inspiring Juliette to feel a relaxed comfort around Cairo that she clearly didn’t feel when she landed. While she originally intends to wait and see the pyramids with her husband, the moment she and Tareq have in front of them is one of the most breathtaking points in the film.

What to serve to get in the travel mood?  Serve sweetened black tea and a plate of Lemon-Mint Hummus with pita and falafel to really feel like Egypt is calling.

Simona Scolari/Flickr


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