" The conformist" by Bertolucci was powerful
" Bread and chocolate" Nino Manfreddi was nostalgic
" 8 1/2" Fellini, be advised that his films are only about himself and that I find ironically universal and idiosyncratic at the same time.
For the French, I think you might want to look at Rohmer's work as well, at least "Calire's knee" or "Ma nuit chez Maude"
Japanese cinema is aesthetically different. Nontheless it offers a keen insight, that I thought impossible to be local. You'd expect the rather more common universal experience of a filmmaker's mind.
And I think I should not forget Ingmar Bergman - which should go without saying that his work is a must-see.