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Top 10 Italian TV Shows to Boost Your Italian

Millions of learners all around the world agree: watching TV shows is a great way to learn a new language. You can boost your skills in many different contexts according to the show’s genre (drama, crime, comedy, sci-fi, cooking, nature, etc…), while at the same time having a great deal of fun. And this is why Italian TV shows are a big help for every learner, from beginners to those who are more advanced. Here at ItalianPod101 we’ll give you a complete guide to the best Italian TV shows for learners.

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Study Italian with TV Shows
  2. How You Can Watch the Most Popular Italian TV Shows
  3. The Top Italian TV Shows
  4. Bonus: Free Must-have Articles and Guides About Italian TV Shows
  5. How ItalianPod101 Can Help You Learn More Italian

1. How to Study Italian with TV Shows

Learning the Italian grammar, verbs, orthography, vocabulary, and so on, is hard enough. This gorgeous language was created through centuries from the ancient Latin, with many influences from a variety of other cultures. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, not even the fastest learner can pretend to master Italian in a couple of weeks. But you can certainly learn a lot quicker and more effectively with the right tools: in this case, a great Italian course and the best Italian TV shows.

You can learn Italian with a TV show simply by watching something you like. Without even noticing, you’ll end up understanding the spoken language a lot better, improving your pronunciation, and knowing the grammar rules “by instinct,” simply because you’ve gained familiarity with the Italian language as a whole. That’s worth trying, don’t you think? Keep on reading to discover how you can watch the most popular Italian television shows from wherever you are in the world.

2. How You Can Watch the Most Popular Italian TV Shows

There are several different ways to watch Italian TV shows from wherever you are:

  • Satellite TV: You can get a subscription to Sky Italia or to Mediaset Premium and watch many of the most interesting Italian television shows on your TV.
  • Netflix: The streaming giant is also very popular in Italy and it offers many local shows and movies for viewing. But keep in mind that you can’t watch them from your country, because Netflix localizes the content according to the rights it owns.
  • Raiplay.it: You can find many of the most famous Italian TV shows online on the Rai (the Italian public TV company) website. Just go to Raiplay.it and select the show you’d like to watch.
  • Other streaming channels: Some other Italian TV channels have content (at least part of it) online for streaming. For example, DMAX or Cielo.
  • YouTube: You can find some amazing Italian TV shows on YouTube, especially those from the past. You can even find some bits of the most recent ones.
  • DVD: You can buy the DVDs of some of the most successful Italian TV shows on Amazon Prime and other online stores.

3. The Top Italian TV Shows

Below is a list of Italian TV shows for learners of different levels. Make some popcorn, sit back on your couch, and enjoy!

1- Italian TV Shows for Beginners

1. Provaci Ancora Prof!

Provaci Ancora Prof

Among the most popular Italian TV programs produced by Rai, Provaci Ancora Prof! was broadcast from 2005 to 2017. The main character is an Italian literature high school professor, who is also an amateur detective helping the police with some delicate cases. This show can be found on Raiplay.it.

Quote:
Gaetano: Ma non ti arrendi mai!
Camilla: No! Soprattutto se è per difendere una persona a cui voglio bene.
Gaetano: E a me mi difenderesti?
Camilla: “A me mi” non si dice.

Translation:
Gaetano: You never give up!
Camilla: No! Especially if it’s to protect someone I love.
Gaetano: And would you protect to me?
Camilla: [Correcting a grammar error] You don’t say protect to me.

Vocabulary:

  • Arrendersi (“Give up”)
  • Soprattutto (“Especially”)
  • Difendere (“Protect”)
  • Voler bene (“Love; care”)
  • A me mi (A common grammar mistake in Italian)

2. Ulisse, Il Piacere Della Scoperta

Ulisse, Il Piacere Della Scoperta

There’s certainly no lack of Italian TV shows for beginners who love culture and history, and this is the most famous one. Also produced by Rai and available on Raiplay.it, this television show is hosted by the star of the Italian educational show, Alberto Angela, who is the son of the initiator Piero Angela.

Quote:

Bisogna dire che quando ci si affaccia su Roma si rimane sorpresi dalla quantità di capolavori, di architetture, di palazzi, di verde anche—è una delle città più verdi che si conoscano. Ma tutto quello che vedete è frutto di una stratificazione della storia, per così dire.

Translation:

“We must say that when you overlook Rome you’re surprised by the amount of masterpieces, architectures, palaces, green spaces too—it’s one of the greenest cities. But everything you see is the result of the stratification of history, so to speak.”

Vocabulary:

  • Affacciarsi (“Overlook”)
  • Sorpreso (“Surprised”)
  • Capolavoro (“Masterpiece”)
  • Storia (“History”)
  • Per così dire (“So to speak”)

2- Italian TV Shows for Intermediate Learners

1. Don Matteo

Don Matteo

A crime series with a light approach and an unusual protagonist, this show follows the priest Don Matteo. It’s set in the beautiful countryside of Umbria (the first 8 seasons in Gubbio, the newest ones in Spoleto), where Don Matteo travels by bike to help the local Carabinieri marshal solve the most complicated cases. It can be found on Raiplay.it.

Quotes:

1. Non c’è croce senza resurrezione. Noi cristiani spesso ce lo dimentichiamo.

2. Ricordati che Dio ha perdonato gli uomini che gli hanno ucciso il figlio!

Translation:

1. “There is no cross without resurrection. We Christians often forget it.”

2. “Remember that God forgave the men that killed his son!”

Vocabulary:

  • Croce (“Cross”)
  • Resurrezione (“Resurrection”)
  • Dimenticare (“Forget”)
  • Ricordare (“Remember”)
  • Perdonare (“Forgive”)

2. Tutto Può Succedere

2. Tutto Può Succedere

This is a family story inspired by the American TV series Parenthood. Set next to Rome, it’s a portrait of the Italian contemporary multicultural society. It’s available on Raiplay.it.

Quote:

- È arrivato un messaggino! Finalmente. Ha lasciato il locale. Così tutto è chiaro. Gli scrivo di mandarmene uno quando arriva a casa.
- Sara, stai un po’ tranquilla, che Dennis ha la testa sulle spalle.
- Sì, ma le sue spalle sono ancora piccole.

Vocabulary:

  • Messaggino (“SMS”)
  • Locale (“Club”)
  • Avere la testa sulle spalle (“To have a head on your shoulders”)

3- Italian TV Shows for Advanced Learners

1. Boris

Boris

Available on Netflix, this extremely funny but also bitterly sarcastic series takes place—strangely enough—on a TV series set. This show is like a summary of Italian society’s worst flaws. Nepotism, corruption, and servility are depicted in the most frank and yet amusing way, with much thanks to its excellent actors. It’s one of the most viewed Italian TV series on Netflix, despite the fact that its last season was released in 2010.

Quotes:

1. Mi sembra che l’unico tra noi due che sta facendo uno sforzo per evitare che io ti meni sono sempre io, la stessa persona che poi, prima o poi, ti menerà.

2. Io considero Kubrick un incapace! […] È uno che affrontava un genere, falliva e passava a un altro genere. Poi anni e anni da un film a un altro. Anni e anni di che cosa? Di profondo imbarazzo per il film precedente!

Translation:

1. “It looks like the only one that is struggling to avoid that I beat you is me, the same person that, sooner or later, will beat you.”

2. “I consider Kubrick an incompetent! […] He took on a genre, he failed and moved to another genre. Then years and years from one film to the other. Years and years of what? Of deep embarrassment for the last film!”

Vocabulary:

  • Fare uno sforzo (“To struggle”)
  • Evitare (“To avoid”)
  • Menare (“To beat” [colloquial])
  • Prima o poi (“Sooner or later”)
  • Incapace (“Incompetent”)
  • Imbarazzo (“Embarrassment”)

2. Il Commissario Montalbano

Il Commissario Montalbano

This is the most famous recent Italian television show, viewed all over the world. Created by the writer Andrea Camilleri, it’s the story of the Sicilian police commissioner Salvo Montalbano. Smart and skilled, but also surly and lover of good food (that he vigorously eats in complete silence), he’s a complex and fascinating character. Moreover, he lives in the beautiful imaginary Sicilian coast town of Vigata—in reality, Porto Empedocle, next to Agrigento. The best way to watch this series is with satellite TV (it’s periodically broadcast on Rai channels) or DVDs. Disclaimer: He speaks with an amazing mix of Italian and Sicilian dialect.

Quotes:

1. Un autentico cretino, difficile a trovarsi in questi tempi in cui i cretini si camuffano da intelligenti.

2. Insomma ci sono uomini di qualità che, messi in certi posti, risultano inadatti proprio per le loro qualità all’occhi di gente che qualità non ne ha, ma in compenso fa politica.

Translation:

1. “A real idiot, hard to find in times like these, when idiots disguise themselves as smart.”

2. “In conclusion, there are high-quality men that, put in some places, prove themselves inappropriate because of their qualities in front of people without qualities, but who on the other hand are in politics.”

Vocabulary:

  • Cretino (“Idiot”)
  • Cammuffarsi (“Disguise yourself”)
  • Insomma (“So; in conclusion”)
  • Risultare (“To prove”)
  • In compenso (“On the other hand”)

4- Italian Reality TV Shows

1. L’isola Dei Famosi

L’isola Dei Famosi

Italian reality TV shows aren’t usually very original, and they’re often a local version of an international program. That’s the case with this one, which is the Italian version of the American show Survivor. In this show, a group of celebrities (usually in decline) are thrown on a tropical island to starve and endure difficult trials. If you like trash TV, you’ll love it. You can watch it on Mediaset TV channels.

Quote:

Volevo dire che Cecilia ha un carattere molto difficile, però volevo spezzare una piccola lancia a suo favore perché effettivamente nel gruppo di prima un po’ era presa eccessivamente di mira, secondo me. Detto questo, però, non mi si può imputare un pisolino davanti al fuoco!

Translation:

“I’d like to say that Cecilia has a very bad temper, but I’d want to strike a blow for her because in the previous group she actually was, I think, excessively targeted. That said, though, you can not accuse me of taking a nap in front of the fire!”

Vocabulary:

  • Carattere (“Temper”)
  • Spezzare una lancia in favore di qualcuno (“To strike a blow for someone”)
  • Prendere di mira (“To target”)
  • Imputare (“To accuse”)
  • Pisolino (“Nap”)

2. Grande Fratello

Grande Fratello

This one is the Italian version of The Big Brother show, with all its flaws and virtues. Entertaining, though often vulgar, it can certainly help you get familiar with all the different Italian accents and dialects, since participants come from all over the country. It’s broadcast on Mediaset TV channels.

Quote:

Ho due o tre… quattro concetti in cui credo: rispetto, lealtà, coerenza. Magari non li seguo sempre…

Translation:

“I have two or three…four concepts I believe in: respect, loyalty, consistency. Maybe I don’t always follow them…”

Vocabulary:

  • Concetto (“Concept”)
  • Credere (“Believe”)
  • Lealtà (“Loyalty”)
  • Coerenza (“Consistency”)

5- Italian Cooking Shows

1. Masterchef Italia

Masterchef Italia

The British forefather Masterchef has generated descendents all over the planet, including the most famous of Italian cooking shows. It’s a hard competition to win 100.000 € and the chance to publish a cookbook. The participants are severely judged by a group of famous Italian chefs and restaurant owners, including Antonino Cannavacciuolo and Joe Bastianich. You can watch it on Sky and Cielo channels, or on cieloTV.it.

Quotes:

1. La cucina non è fashion, la cucina è cultura.

2. La tua arroganza sarà il bastone tra le tue ruote.

Translation:

1. “Cooking is not fashion, cooking is culture.”

2. “Your arrogance will be the stick in your wheels.”

Vocabulary:

  • Cucina (“Cooking”)
  • Cultura (“Culture”)
  • Bastone tra le ruote (“Stick in your wheels; something that blocks you”)

2. Camionisti in Trattoria

Camionisti in Trattoria

If you like working-class restaurants with excellent food and low prices, this show is for you. The famous Chef Rubio will ride all over Italy with Italian truck drivers to discover the places where they eat. This show is also a great way to find new food destinations outside tourist guides, to live the real—and cheap—Italian life. You can watch it online on Dplay.

Quote:

Eh sì, sono meravigliosi i ristoranti pettinati. Quelli con quella bella cucina sperimental-concettuale. Quelli dove ordini dei piatti che sembrano mobili svedesi. Infatti per mangiarli servono le istruzioni. Quelli con gli chef che fanno porzioni da villaggio degli gnomi, ma pe’ paga’ er conto, te devi aprì un mutuo. Ecco, no. È ora de partì per un viaggio. Destinazione? La cucina vera, di sostanza e della tradizione. E c’è solo un tipo di persona che conosce bene quello che cerco: i camionisti.

Translation:

“Oh yes, chic restaurants are wonderful. Those with that gorgeous conceptual experimental cuisine. Those where you order dishes that look like Swedish furniture. As a matter of fact, you need instructions to eat them. Those with chefs that make gnome’s village’s portions, but in order to pay the check you need to get a mortgage. Okay, no. It’s time to leave for a journey. Destination? The real, rich, traditional cooking. And there’s just one kind of person who knows what I’m looking for: truck drivers.”

Vocabulary:

  • Pettinato (“Chic” [pejorative])
  • Piatto (“Dish”)
  • Mobile (“Furniture”)
  • Pe’ paga’ er conto (Roman dialect version for Per pagare il conto [“to pay the check”])
  • De partì (Roman dialect version for Di partire [“to leave”])
  • Di sostanza (“Rich in nutrients”)
  • Camionista (“Truck driver”)

6- Great Italian TV Shows of the Past

1. Le Avventure di Pinocchio

Le Avventure di Pinocchio

This wonderful five-episode series by Luigi Comencini was first broadcast in 1972 and is a masterpiece of Italian television. The cast includes great actors, including Nino Manfredi, Gina Lollobrigida, Vittorio De Sica, Franco Franchi, Ciccio Ingrassia, and Andrea Balestri. You can watch it on Raiplay.it.

Quote:

Non fidarti mai di chi ti sembra buono e ricordarti che c’è sempre del buono in chi ti sembra cattivo.

Translation:

“Don’t ever trust someone who looks good and remember that there’s always some good in someone who looks bad.”

Vocabulary:

  • Fidarsi (“To trust”)
  • Buono (“Good”)
  • Cattivo (“Bad”)

2. Sandokan

Sandokan

Probably the greatest Italian TV series of all time, Sandokan is based on Emilio Salgari’s adventure novels and stars Kabir Bedi as the main character, a charming Malaysian pirate looking for revenge after his family was massacred by the British. This six-episode series was directed by the cult director Sergio Sollima and broadcast for the first time in 1976. You can find this series on Raiplay.it, as well.

Quotes:

Voglio che i Dayaki imparino a difendersi ed a governarsi, perché chi non sa proteggere la propria libertà, non è degno di essere libero.

Translation:

“I want the Dayaki to learn to defend and to rule themselves, because those who can’t protect their freedom are not worthy of being free.”

Vocabulary:

  • Imparare (“To learn”)
  • Governare (“To rule”)
  • Libertà (“Freedom”)
  • Degno (“Worthy”)

4. Bonus: Free Must-have Articles and Guides About Italian TV Shows

Do you want to know more about the best Italian TV shows to learn Italian, and how they can help you improve your talking and listening skills? Then you can use our free guides and articles. Here on ItalianPod101 you’ll have everything you need to boost your Italian in the most effective and fun way.

5. How ItalianPod101 Can Help You Learn More Italian

Our Italian TV shows list is here to provide you with some excellent advice to find the most interesting programs for you, but to have a complete knowledge of this beautiful language you must also have some solid bases. We at ItalianPod101 are offering you the most efficient tools—articles, apps, guides, and video lessons—to achieve your goal in the fastest and most entertaining way. Give us a try and the results will speak for themselves!

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