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The 10 Best Italian Movies to Learn Italian (with Quotes)

Watching Italian movies is a great way to improve your learning while at the same time having fun and living your passion for cinema. Similar to TV series, Italian films allow you to dive deep into the language and culture of this wonderful country, without having to face grammar exercises or difficult orthography rules. You can literally just chill and relax on your couch, while learning Italian!

That’s why we at ItalianPod101 have created this up-to-date and comprehensive list of the eight best Italian movies to learn Italian. Together with every movie’s plot and info, you’ll find some of its most unforgettable quotes. You certainly won’t be lacking in cultural education or true engagement when you choose to learn Italian through films! Here are some tips to improve your pronunciation while watching movies in Italian.

Ways to improve pronunciation

Table of Contents

  1. How to Learn Italian with Italian Movies
  2. How You Can Watch Italian Movies Wherever You Are
  3. Our List of the 10 Best Italian Movies to Learn Italian
  4. Some Examples of Expressions Originated by Italian Movies
  5. Bonus: Free Must-have Articles and Guides about Italian Movies
  6. How ItalianPod101 Can Help You Learn More Italian

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1. How to Learn Italian with Italian Movies

Movie genres

You’re tired of books, courses, and dictionaries, and you want to try something more entertaining to learn Italian. Or maybe you’re just not the kind of student that spends hours and hours doing exercises and translations. Or you’re exactly that kind of student, but you’re also a cinephile that watches film after film and spends every weekend glued to his/her favorite seat in the best cinema in town. Whatever the case is, you’ll love our list of the best Italian films to learn Italian.

While watching a great movie, you can internalize rules, verbs, and lexicon with less effort than you can with a classical learning strategy. Following a story gives strong motivation to understand dialogues, and you study, strive, and learn without even noticing. Moreover, you’ll know more about the history of Italian cinema and Italian culture in general.

Italy is a country made up of twenty very different regions with thousands of cities, towns, and villages each with their own identity, traditions, and dialect. Many films portray a specific territory, and students have the chance to see and come to understand Italy from many different points of view. This is helpful in breaking out of the many entrenched stereotypes that surround this complex country.

2. How You Can Watch Italian Movies Wherever You Are

You can use different means to watch our recommended Italian movies:

  • DVD: Buying or renting a DVD is an easy way to watch the most famous Italian movies of the past and present. You can switch the language and find the original version with subtitles. If your local library has a DVD section, you can probably find something there too.
  • Netflix: You can find a very nice selection of Italian movies on Netflix, including some of the most interesting recent titles.
  • Raiplay.it: The website of the Italian public TV service offers thousands of hours of super-interesting videos. There’s also a movie section, which includes some of the best Italian films. If you’re accessing the site from abroad, you’ll probably need to use a VPN proxy service.
  • Satellite TV: There are many Italian TV channels that broadcast films 24/7. While not all of the movies are Italian—American cinema is also quite popular—many of them are. Rai Movie, Iris, Sky Cinema channels, and Premium Cinema channels are some of the channels where films are broadcasted night and day.

Here are the most common Italian vocabulary that you may find in the movies.

Top verbs

3. Our List of the 10 Best Italian Movies to Learn Italian

Here is our list of the ten best Italian movies for students seeking to learn Italian through films.

1- Italian Classic Movies

1. La Dolce Vita

Probably the most famous Italian film of all times, La Dolce Vita by Federico Fellini is a melancholic yet vibrant portrayal of Rome’s cultural milieu during the Italian economic boom. The main character, Marcello, is a restless reporter living three love affairs: the heiress Maddalena, the American movie star Sylvia, and Emma, his official girlfriend, who attempts suicide at the beginning of the film. When Anita Ekberg—alias Sylvia—dives into the Trevi fountain is one of the most unforgettable scenes of all times.

Quotes:
Marcello [to Sylvia]: Tu sei tutto, Sylvia! Ma lo sai che sei tutto, eh? You are everything… everything! Tu sei la prima donna del primo giorno della Creazione. Sei la madre, la sorella, l’amante, l’amica, l’angelo, il diavolo, la terra, la casa… Ah, ecco cosa sei: la casa!

Translation:
Marcello [to Sylvia]: You are everything… everything! You are the first woman on the first day of creation. You are mother, sister, lover, friend, angel, devil, earth, home. Ah, here’s what you are: the home!

Steiner:Non credere che la salvezza sia chiudersi in casa. Non fare come me, Marcello! Io sono troppo serio per essere un dilettante, ma non abbastanza per diventare un professionista. Ecco, è meglio la vita più miserabile, credimi, che l’esistenza protetta da una società organizzata in cui tutto sia previsto, tutto perfetto.

Translation:
Steiner: Don’t be like me. Salvation doesn’t lie within four walls. I’m too serious to be a dilettante and too much a dabbler to be a professional. Even the most miserable life is better than a sheltered existence in an organized society where everything is calculated and perfected.

Vocabulary:

  • Tutto (“Everything”)
  • Donna (“Woman”)
  • Sorella (“Sister”)
  • Amante (“Lover”)
  • Terra (“Earth”)
  • Chiudersi in casa (“Lie within four walls”)
  • Serio (“Serious”)
  • Miserabile (“Miserable”)
  • Protetto (“Sheltered”)
  • Società (“Society”)

2. Rome, Open City (Roma Città Aperta)

Neorealism was an Italian film movement willing to portray the conditions of the working class and the poor right after the Second World War. It had an enormous influence on all the world and it often put both great and non-professional actors together on the scene. Roma Città Aperta by Roberto Rossellini was the first film of this new era. Shot right after the end of the war in the streets of Rome, with ruins and destroyed buildings still there, it takes place just a few months earlier, during the Nazi occupation. The SS chase the Resistance leader, who tries to escape with the help of a priest and a pregnant woman, through the most horrible dangers. When looking for an impactful Italian classic movie, be sure to give this one a try as you pursue the language and culture.

Quote:
Don Pietro: Non è difficile morire bene. Difficile è vivere bene.

Translation:
Don Pietro: It’s not hard to die well. The hard thing is to live well.

Vocabulary:

  • Difficile (“Hard”)
  • Morire (“Die”)
  • Vivere (“Live”)

2- Italian Mafia Movies

1. One Hundred Steps (I Cento Passi)

Non-Italians sometimes have a romanticized idea of the mafia due to beautiful films such as The Godfather. Italian directors and their audience, though, have more realistic opinions. I Cento Passi by Marco Tullio Giordana tells the real story of Peppino Impastato, a Sicilian communist militant who founded a free radio in the ‘70s. He hated the mafia, for it had killed his uncle—an important local boss—when he was a boy, and decided to fight it for the rest of his life. A life that was, indeed, short. He was killed at only 30 years old. This Italian mafia movie is a must-watch for those interested in both the beauty and darkness of Italy’s culture.

Quotes:
Peppino: La mafia è una montagna di merda!

Translation:
Peppino: Mafia is a mountain of shit!

Vocabulary:

  • Montagna (“Mountain”)
  • Merda (“Shit”)

2. Suburra

Many Italian gangster movies and TV series of the last few years have turned to a very dark and violent aesthetic, inspired by American cinema. Suburra, by Stefano Sollima, is one of them. The plot takes place in a rainy, disturbing Rome, where politics and organized crime intertwine and there’s no sign of redemption. The actors do play with a strong Roman accent, so this film is not suited for beginners.

Quote:
Malgradi: Senti, sai che c’è? C’è che, ora come ora, in questo paese uno come me, uno che sta dove sto io, uno che è arrivato dove sono arrivato io, se ne fotte della magistratura! Io sono un parlamentare della Repubblica italiana!

Translation:
Malgradi: You know what? Than right now, in this country someone like me, someone that is where I am, one that has arrived where I’ve arrived, doesn’t give a shit of the magistrature! I’m a Member of Parliament of the Italian Republic!

Vocabulary:

  • Ora come ora (“Right now”)
  • Paese (“Country”)
  • Magistratura (“Magistrature”)
  • Parlamentare (“Member of Parliament”)

3- Italian Horror Movies

1. The House with Laughing Windows (La Casa Dalle Finestre Che Ridono)

In a little village in the plain countryside surrounding Ferrara, a painter commits suicide right after finishing a frightening fresco. When a local painter is appointed to restore it, many people around him die. What’s the mystery behind the painting, hiding in the sleepy Padan landscape? A cult Italian horror movie for all horror lovers in Italy and abroad.

Quotes:
Solo un grande artista può dare un senso così… così vero alla morte.

Translation:
Only a great artist can give a sense that’s so…so true to death.

Vocabulary:

  • Artista (“Artist”)
  • Dare (“To give”)
  • Vero (“True”)

2. Deep Red (Profondo Rosso)

You can’t make a list of Italian horror movies without Dario Argento. Deep Red is probably his most famous and scariest film. A dark killer is slaughtering people under the influence of a disturbing lullaby. And the murderer is not who you’d expect.

Quotes:
Helga Ulmann: Sono entrata in contatto con una mente perversa. I suoi pensieri sono pensieri di morte […] Tu hai già ucciso e sento che ucciderai ancora.

Translation:
Helga Ulmann: I’m in contact with a depraved mind. Its thoughts are deadly thoughts […] You’ve already killed and I feel that you’ll kill again.

Vocabulary:

  • Mente (“Mind”)
  • Perversa (“Depraved”)
  • Uccidere (“To kill”)
  • Ancora (“Again”)

4- Italian Romance Movies

1. The Last Kiss (L’ultimo Bacio)

Responsibilities and fatherhood scare Carlo, whose girlfriend has just told him she’s pregnant. At a wedding, he meets the beautiful 18-year-old Francesca and has the chance to live one last youthful adventure.

Quote:
Carlo: Ho bisogno che ogni giorno succeda qualcosa di nuovo, per sentire che la mia vita va avanti.

Translation:
Carlo: I need that everyday there’s something new happening, to feel that my life is going on.

Vocabulary:

  • Ogni giorno (“Everyday”)
  • Succedere (“To happen”)
  • Nuovo (“New”)

2. Three Steps Over Heaven (Tre Metri Sopra il Cielo)

Stefano and Roberta both come from rich Roman families, but they couldn’t be more different. She’s a good girl and student; he’s angry and troubled. But, nevertheless, they fall in love. An Italian romance movie for young boys and girls.

Quote:
DJ: Stamattina ho visto un graffito… una bella donna diceva: “Ci sono solo 2 giorni a cui io non penso mai… ieri e domani!”

Translation:
DJ: This morning I saw a graffito… a beautiful woman was saying: “There are only 2 days I never think about…yesterday and tomorrow!”

Vocabulary:

  • Stamattina (“This morning”)
  • Vedere (“To see”)
  • Ieri (“Yesterday”)
  • Domani (“Tomorrow”)

5- Italian Comedy Movies

1. Fantozzi

Fantozzi is a clerk played by Paolo Villaggio in a series of successful comedies.This 1975 film is the first of the series and probably the best. It’s a bitter comedy about being a lower-middle-class worker with a miserable, frustrating life, in a big Italian city.

Quote:
Fantozzi: Com’è umano, lei!

Translation:
Fantozzi: You’re so human, sir!

Vocabulary:

  • Umano (“Human”)
  • Lei (Feminine third person singular, to express respect)

2. Johnny Stecchino

Dante is a bus driver who looks exactly like the mafioso Johnny Stecchino, who is wanted by Sicilian mobsters. When he meets Stecchino’s wife, Maria, she tries to make Dante pass as Johnny, for the mobsters to kill him. Both Dante and Johnny are played by Roberto Benigni, at the beginning of his great success. Check out this great Italian comedy movie to get a better grasp of the language, laughing all the while.

Quote:
Maria: Questa, questa è l’immagine di te che io voglio sempre tenere con me. Con questo vestito… con questo neo… con quello stecchino… Johnny… Stecchino.

Translation:
Maria: This, this is the image of you that I always want to keep with me. With this suit…with this mole…with that toothpick…Johnny…Toothpick.

Vocabulary:

  • Sempre (“Always”)
  • Tenere (“To keep”)
  • Vestito (“Suit”)
  • Stecchino (“Toothpick”)

4. Some Examples of Expressions Originated by Italian Movies

Some Italian movies have become so famous that they’ve grown roots into the Italian culture. They’ve even entered the Italian language, originating words and expressions. Here are some examples:

  • Paparazzo: Paparazzo was the surname of a photographer in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and it’s now a word of common use the world over.
  • La nuvoletta di Fantozzi: He’s so unlucky that when he leaves on a holiday, a little cloud (nuvoletta) full of heavy rain never stops following him.
  • E io pago!: This is a famous expression used by the comic Totò meaning “And I pay!” It’s now used in Italian when someone pays while others benefit.

5. Bonus: Free Must-have Articles and Guides about Italian Movies

Learn more about Italian movies and cinema with ItalianPod101 guides and articles. Become a real master of the Italian language while having fun with the best Italian films of all times.

6. How ItalianPod101 Can Help You Learn More Italian

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