As someone who has completely fallen in love with the Italian language, I wanted to show a different perspective on the best Italian shows on Netflix. This list doesn’t just include the most obvious shows you’d find on your own, but the best Italian series that will actually help you learn and tips that will help you use Netflix as a language tool!
2 Essential Language Learning Tips for Watching Italian TV Series on Netflix
Feel free to skip down to the recommendations if you have already used Netflix to learn a language, but if not, these tips can really help you out! I sure wish I knew them when I first started! So here we go…
1. How to Find Original Italian Netflix Series
Although the content may vary by country, it’s pretty simple to find the shows on Netflix that are Italian. By that I mean the shows that are ORIGINALLY made in Italian, not dubbed or with subtitles.
You can do this by searching “Italian” in the search bar and clicking on “Italian Movies and TV.” Unfortunately, there aren’t many options on Netflix for Italian, although Netflix seems to be working on that!
Another way to do this is to follow this link to the genre tab for Italian TV shows (the genre number is 62866 (it looks like this: https://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/62866).
We will go over the best Netflix shows that are originally made in Italian as well as some shows you are probably already familiar with that are dubbed (not the original actor’s voice) in Italian.
2. Subtitles or no subtitles?
This completely depends on what you want to focus on and the level you are at. For example, when I am a beginner and I want to watch a show that is more advanced, I usually turn on the subtitles since the main goal is to learn more vocabulary.
However, when I am a beginner and I am watching a show that is aimed at beginners, I don’t turn on subtitles.
Why? Because the goal is to get used to listening to the language and being able to pick out the vocabulary that you do know in order to understand the parts you don’t know yet.
Personally, I think listening and understanding are skills that can be overlooked, especially when you are first starting.
But think about it this way, what is the point of learning how to say “Dov’è il bagno?” if you aren’t going to be able to understand what they say next?
You still won’t know where the bathroom is.
However, I think both strategies can work well. I like to turn on the subtitles even with languages I know well on days that I want to find new vocabulary words to study.
I know that I understand well the gist of what is being said, but there are specific words that I am still missing.
Also, keep in mind that subtitles are almost never exactly what the person on the show is saying. The characters are speaking usually quite fast and the subtitles are more of a summary of what they are trying to say.
This is helpful for learning vocabulary as a beginner but can be a crutch and a weakness if you rely on it since you aren’t actually forcing your brain to keep up with the pace of a native speaker.
With all that in mind, here are the actual shows to watch on Netflix in Italian!
2 Great Netflix Shows in Italian for Beginners
Nobody wants to admit it, but when you are first starting to learn a language, it is going to be near impossible to understand a TV show that is written for adults.
Since you are mostly using Netflix to learn new vocabulary and practice listening, it’s good to start at a place where you don’t feel like you are totally drowning and lose interest quickly.
There is a bit of a balance here that every person has to figure out for themselves, you have to find a show that is interesting enough to keep your attention, but also easy enough that you can understand it.
When you are further along and feel a bit more confident (or even just bored and want to watch more challenging content) then you can try the more advanced shows.
However, this is SO important to remember: make sure that you enjoy it what you’re doing! Learning a language is SO fun, but if you make even watching TV to be a chore then it ruins the whole point!
For the beginner Netflix shows, I’ve picked out shows that are originally created in Italian.
I think that this is important in the beginning because you are learning the flow of a natural conversation in Italian with its own sayings and idioms, which might not come across the same when the actors are only translating from other languages.
All of these shows in the beginner section are originally made in Italian.
Here are the shows that I used to get my ears used to hearing Italian and being able to pick up phrases more easily:
1. Winx Club
Okay, I know, I’m 27 years old and I’ve watched 6 SEASONS of this fairy cartoon. But guess what? Now I understand a heck of a lot more Italian than I did when I started. This is a show made for children, so the language is a bit more simple.
However, for some reason all these fairies have boyfriends and the show focuses on that a lot, so it’s actually not that boring! I’d compare it to a Nickelodeon show meant for preteen girls.
2. Maggie & Bianca: Fashion Friends
This show is actually a bit easier (the talking can be a little slower) than Winx. It also features REAL PEOPLE, YAY! Maggie & Bianca is basically a cheesy Italian version of something like Hannah Montana. The jokes are bad and it is quite cringy, but this is a great level of Italian to start getting used to.
The speaking is slower and clearer (just like it is when you watch Hannah Montana versus something like Law and Order) and you get to know the characters a little better since they aren’t cartoons!
Also, see if you can figure out who the one not-native-speaker is! I think it’s so cool and made me feel like working even harder on my Italian!
How to Watch Netflix Shows in Italian for Intermediate Level
It took me a while to warm up to the idea of doing this since I would rather watch shows that are originally in the language that I am learning.
However, once I tried it with some shows that I was already familiar with, it became clear why this is such a great “intermediate” way to learn a language using Netflix!
The idea is that instead of starting from scratch with a brand new show with characters and a plot that you are unfamiliar with, start with a show that you have seen at least once.
By doing that, you may not understand everything that they say, but you remember the scene and can piece together and pick up words that you may not have before simply because you understand the context of what is happening.
For example, I have watched every episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
So I went back and watched the first season in Italian and even though the talking was quite fast, I remembered the lines from before and was actually able to follow along way better!
1. Use a VPN
Depending on what country you are in, shows may or may not show that they are dubbed in Italian and have Italian subtitles.
I currently live in France and just searched some of my favorite TV shows and checked if they had Italian subtitles and they didn’t.
HOWEVER, then I turned on my VPN and switched it to Italy, and VOILA! They magically had both subtitles and audio in Italian.
This may not be the case for most American shows (The Office is only in English )’:) but it is definitely worth a try!
Here are a few that I found had audio & subtitles in Italian with the Italian VPN on:
- Brooklyn 99
- New Girl
- Rick & Morty
- Prison Break
- Bojack Horseman
You can also use a VPN to watch Italian RaiPlay TV from anywhere in the world!
How to Use a VPN
There are a ton of reasons why everyone should use a VPN: to protect yourself from hackers when using a public internet, to hide your IP address when streaming movies/shows illegally, and for streaming Netflix shows that aren’t available in your country.
I am not someone who has a ton of monthly subscriptions or signs up for anything very easily (seriously, we travel the world and make around 18-20,000 a year between the both of us, so we take subscriptions very seriously!) but a VPN is definitely something that is worth the small amount of money each month.
We have been using Nord VPN for the past 2 years and it has worked in every country we’ve been to so far!
I would definitely check them out and buy a longer plan to get the best deal possible. We have the 3-year plan since that saved us the most amount of money.
After downloading it, you can just click a country and it tricks Netflix into thinking that that is where you live!
If for some reason it doesn’t work or isn’t fast enough, just try using a different server until you find one that works!
2. Watch European Netflix Shows for More Shows Dubbed in Italian
If you’re having a hard time finding shows with Italian audio & subtitles, try TV shows made in Europe! Spain has made a lot of really great quality Netflix shows which are all also dubbed in Italian!
They are some of my favorite shows ever, so if you haven’t seen them already you need to add them to your watch list, even if it’s not to watch in Italian!
Plus, since the languages are more closely related, I think that the translations will be better and closer to the original meaning and tone of the show.
Casa de Papel (Money Heist)
Arguably one of the best TV shows on Netflix, there is SO much going on in La Casa de Papel. A group of criminals get together to do their final heist together with the ultimate plan.
All I have to say is that Spain is THE QUEEN of casting their shows with characters that you just fall in love with.
Although I watch this show in Spanish, I have watched a bit in Italian as well.
Like I mentioned before since Italian and Spanish are in the same language family, the translations are going to be more correct and closer to the point than English ones.
I seriously counted down the days for the second and third seasons of this show to come out.
Although it’s another Netflix show about teenagers (this time they are in a very wealthy private school!), the plot is crazy addictive and really well done. I highly recommend it!
Netflix Shows In Italian for Advanced Learners
I’ve watched the first season of this show and I have to admit that I was unimpressed. I appreciated that Netflix made an original show in Italian, but the quality really paled in comparison to Elite and Casa de Papel (both Spanish shows).
I think Netflix could do better, but maybe you will love this show! It’s basically about a bunch of private school kids in Rome and the drama in their lives (similar to Elite but without the interesting plot).
This show just came out on Netflix and I can’t wait to watch it! It looks a lot more promising than Baby and I hope that I get hooked!
(UPDATE: I finished Summertime in just a week, so I definitely liked it! Still a little cheesy at first, but better than Baby and the characters grow on you a lot more!)
3. Skam Italia
Next on my list after watching Summertime is SKAM Italia. It already has four seasons, although I believe that this show is somewhat new to Netflix since I hadn’t seen it before.
It seems to be the same idea as most Netflix shows: teenagers figuring out their lives with tons of drama!
I found out about this show because it was getting a lot of hype on the NetflixIT Instagram page, which I definitely recommend you follow if you want some extra language practice as well as being able to keep up with new Italian shows that come out in the future!
4. Luna Nera
Luna Nera is a fantasy series (witches and magic) all in Italian. I wasn’t sure if I would like it (even though I love witch shows, obviously!) but I thought it was great! I’m working through the first season, but I definitely plan to finish it.
5. Suburra (Blood on Rome)
I’ve held off on this one for a while because I have heard that there is a lot of slang and dialect in this show that wouldn’t really be helpful for learning Italian. I hear it’s really good though and when I have time I will definitely watch it, but I’m not sure that it’s great for language learning.
If you have any more recommendations for me, please let me know in the comments! I’m always looking for new TV shows to watch in Italian so I can be lazy but not feel so bad about it. (;
Read More About Language Learning:
- 10 Duolingo Hacks that Will Change the Way You Use the App
- Find Out Your Duolingo Language Level (It’s Not in the App!)
- How to Get 40XP Per Lesson With the Duolingo XP Ramp-Up Challenge
- Should You Upgrade to Duolingo Plus?
- 52 Best Italian Cartoons for Learning
Dayna Brockbank is a travel and language-learning blogger who has lived around the world but has now settled in Nice, France. She speaks 3 languages at varying levels of fluency: Spanish, Italian, and French, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Spanish Education. She and her husband focus on making travel part of life by living cheaply and traveling on a budget.