Want to get an inside view of Italian culture and spice up your learning process? We all do but that’s beside the point.
Just like movies, TV series can provide additional learning material and is a fantastic way for you to get acquainted with typical Italian intonation and pronunciation as well as colloquial expressions. Not to mention how Italian TV series will build your Italian vocabulary and help you go beyond the pasta and gelato lingo.
Whether you’re a beginning learner of Italian or a more advanced student, you’re bound to find a TV show that suits your fancy. Without further ado, Gymglish has neatly compiled 5 TV shows to learn Italian (also featured in our online Italian course Saga Baldoria).
Gomorra (2014 – ongoing)
The television series Gomorra (2014-2021) is directed by Stefano Sollima (1966-) and loosely based on the Italian bestseller of the same name (2006) by Roberto Saviano (1979-).
Gomorra, which was also made into a feature film, tells of the cruelty of modern criminal organizations in Italy, features the Camorra clan of Savastano, from the Neapolitan district of Secondigliano, headed by Don Pietro, together with his right-hand man Ciro the Immortal and Genny, his son and successor, as its “protagonists”.
Gomorra has enjoyed success both in Italy and abroad, with the Hollywood Reporter describing the second season of the TV series as “Italy’s answer to Breaking Bad”.
Who’s it for? This popular TV crime drama is set in Naples, meaning that the dialogue is mainly Neapolitan (also known as la lingua napoletana). Subtitles may well be needed!
L’amica geniale (2018 – ongoing)
The Italian TV series L’amica geniale (2018-) was created by director and screenwriter Saverio Costanzo (1975-).
Based on the best-selling series of books of the same name by author Elena Ferrante (1943-), L’amica geniale tells the story of the special relationship between Elena Greco and Raffaella Cerullo, two young girls born in the 1950s and raised in a Naples neighborhood.
The literary saga created by Ferrante, whose true identity remains unknown to this day, has proven a huge success all over the world, giving rise to so-called “Ferrante Fever”.
Who’s it for? We would recommend this TV series for upper intermediate to advanced learners as once again, the dialogues are mainly in the Neapolitan dialect. That’s one of the great things about Italy: each dialect or language comes with a variety of sounds and words that differ from one region to another.
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Love Bugs (2004 – 2007)
The TV sitcom Love Bugs (2004–2007) features comic actor Fabio De Luigi (1967–) and TV presenter Michelle Hunziker (1977–).
The sitcom was inspired by the Canadian TV series Un gars, une fille (A guy, a girl), which was such a success that it was exported to markets worldwide. All the sketches in the series revolve around the everyday life of a couple, who are portrayed in a sarcastic (and somewhat stereotypical) manner.
The pair became very popular thanks to this sitcom: De Luigi is now a prolific comic actor and Hunziker has presented numerous TV shows including Zelig and Striscia la notizia.
Who’s it for? This TV sitcom is right up the street for beginner learners of Italian: dialogs are easy to follow and broach everyday life topics you should know how to discuss in Italian. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy watching couples believably bickering over who gets to empty the dishwasher?
Ritals (2015 – ongoing)
The web series Ritals (2015-) was directed by and starring Svevo Moltrasio (1980-), in collaboration with Federico Iarlori (1983-). The main characters are two Italians living in Paris (as are the stars of the series itself). Svevo plays the classic Italian who longs for his country and hates the one he now finds himself in, while Federico plays a typically intellectual lover of Parisian cultural vibrancy.
Ritals, from which the series takes its name, is a popular but derogatory French slang word used to refer to Italian immigrants – réfugié italien (Italian refugee), abbreviated to R-Ital – arriving in France and Belgium during the post-war period.
Who’s it for? If you’re also in the process of learning French, you’re in luck, because Ritals happens to be a bilingual series (with dialogs jumping from French to Italian). What’s more, the entire series is also available with English subtitles, making the dialogues and the storyline easy to follow for English speakers.
Le Coliche (2019)
Our penultimate entry is dedicated to the YouTube series Le Coliche, a collaboration between actor-author duo Claudio (1988-) and Fabrizio Colica (1991-), who also happen to be brothers.
Le Coliche have made a name for themselves on YouTube thanks to their sense of irony, highlighting not only the contradictions they observe in their own city of Rome, but also on the music scene and on Italian social and political landscape.
One of their recent successes is a parody series dedicated to famous Italian TV personality and science communicator Alberto Angela (1962-). The episode Alla scoperta dei vegani has earned more than 7 million views.
Who’s it for? Le Coliche is fit for all learners of the Italian language except true beginners. Each video features subtitles which will help your written comprehension and follow the sometimes sarcastic storylines. Once you press that play button, there’s no turning back – chances are you’ll get hooked on the series.
Bonus: ll commissario Montalbano (1999 – ongoing)
We end our list with the Italian TV series Il commissario Montalbano (1999-) stars Roman actor Luca Zingaretti (1961-). The series, broadcast on the RAI channels, is based on the novels by famous Sicilian writer Andrea Camilleri (1925-2019) and tells of the adventures of police commissioner Salvo (short for Salvatore) Montalbano, who is always busy investigating crimes and mafia offenses in the imaginary small Sicilian town of Vigata.
Fun fact: Zingaretti was a pupil of Camilleri himself at Rome’s Academy of Dramatic Art, as well as being a big fan of his books.
Today’s clips are also featured in the “dessert” section of our Saga Baldoria online Italian lesson. Each lesson contains an authentic sample of Italian culture to finish off your daily exercises in style. These include excerpts from cinema, series, songs, and more.
Want to give that extra push to your Italian learning process? Try our online Italian lessons Saga Baldoria. The first 7 days are on the house – try it, won’t you?
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