It’s no secret that television is one of the most effective mediums when it comes to language learning. Nowadays, with streaming services at our fingertips and a variety of genres to choose from, there really is no excuse not to find the perfect show for you. I’ve been learning Italian for 3 years now and I owe a lot of my progress to my Netflix binges. So without further ado, I’ve compiled a list of five tried and tested Netflix shows, available in the UK, that are adored by Italian language learners and natives alike.
Summertime spans the length of a summer in the beachside resort town on the Adriatic coast. The main character is high-flying high school student Summer who, ironically, hates summer. Her plan is to endure it by working hard at her summer job at the hotel but an undeniable attraction to former motorbike racing prodigy Ale throws a spanner in the works.
Watch if you: are looking for some sun-drenched escapism.
This series is based on the Norwegian hit show of the same name and, if you were wondering, ‘Skam’ means shame in Norwegian. The original Norwegian version has been reimagined in several other countries including France, Belgium, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands, but the Italian interpretation is arguably the crowd favourite. SKAM Italia follows a group of Roman teens as they navigate their adolescence, as well as all the struggles, complex relationships and secrets that come with it. Like its predecessor, SKAM Italia is seen through the perspective of a different protagonist each season, so this show manages to keep its audience on its toes.
Watch if you: enjoyed English-language teen dramas such as Skins and Euphoria.
Seasons: 1 (It is currently unclear if it will be renewed for a 2nd season)
Set in the real-life town of the same name, a woman returns to her rural hometown with her twin son and daughter Mauro and Daria after 17 years of in Milan. But with spooky local legends about the old clock tower that emerges from beneath the lake, and the beginning of mysterious occurrences in the area, adjusting to country living may be the least of their worries… Curon is situated in the mountainous bilingual region of Trentino-Alto Adige, on the Swiss border, so if you listen closely you’ll hear some snippets of German among the locals too!
Watch if you: like supernatural thrillers and thought provoking extended metaphors.
Suburra: Blood on Rome
Suburra is loosely based on the novel of the same name about the real-life ‘Mafia Capitale’ scandal, and was Netflix’s first Italian original series. Set between Rome and the nearby seaside town of Ostia, Suburra tells the tale of turf wars, gang violence, power struggles, political corruption, blackmail and organised crime. This one is packed with Roman dialect, which you will be hearing a lot of if you’re planning on living in the capital. That said; don’t be disheartened if you have to occasionally switch to English subtitles for this one.
Watch if you: love gritty mafia dramas and don’t mind violent images.
Also set in Rome but against a very different backdrop, Baby follows two privileged students of one of Rome’s most prestigious private schools who, for very different reasons, become involved in underage prostitution. Their clients: the elite businessmen of Rome. Based on a true news story that shocked the nation, Baby is sure to give you an insight into Italian society and scandal. If you become hooked enough to make it through all three seasons, Ludovica’s monologue in the final episode is a feminist masterpiece.
Watch if you: appreciate strong female leads and great soundtracks.