5 Italian Sitcoms To Practice Your Listening Skills
Are you trying to boost your Italian listening skills but don’t want to sit through three hours of Marcello Mastroianni womanizing his way through a black and white existential crisis illustrating the ennui and alienation of the modern, male condition, then you should check out a few of Italy’s most beloved sitcoms. Light-hearted and jaunty and always very strongly centered around the family, these series are a fun way of getting an inside look at everyday Italian life, humor, and worries while strengthening your vocabulary and getting some experience listening to conversational speech.
1. Elisa di Rivombrosa. This will appeal to lovers of historical fiction, as the series is set in the 17th century and tells the story of a countess’s maid, Elisa Scalzi. In the wake of mistaken identities, the countess’s son returned from war attempts to seduce Elisa, unaware she’s a servant, and she begins to fall in love with him. The series ran for two seasons and is full of romance and intrigue, and it was so popular it created a spinoff series, La Figlia di Elisa—Retorno a Rivombrosa, about Elisa’s daughter.
2. Un Medico in Famiglia. A more contemporary family dramedy, Un Medico is one of Italy’s most widely successful TV series. It follows the life of a family living in Rome comprised of the widower Poggio Fiorito and his three children, aged father, in-laws, and Neapolitan au pair. Spanning seven seasons, it’s an entertaining look at a family as it grows and changes.
3. La Piovra. La Piovra translates to “The Octopus,” which is a name for the Italian mafia. If you’re a fan of crime thrillers, definitely give this a watch. La Piovra depicts the hard battle fought by police detective Corrado Cattani against the mafia, and the toll it takes on his personal life. It was so popular during the 80s that it aired all over Europe, even in the USSR, making it an international phenomenon
4. Romanzo Criminale. Another crime drama, Romanzo Criminale is based on a film and novel, and has gained a cult following among Italian viewers. While La Piovra has a cop as the protagonist, Romanzo Criminale follows a gang of criminals as they virtually take over the Roman heroin trade. Based on real events in the 1970s, this series takes a detailed look at the feuds and power struggles within the Roman underworld, as the protagonists have to deal with various different crime syndicates to keep their trade going.
5. Caro Maestro. A more light-hearted comedy, anyone who loves a ridiculous, will-they-won’t-they storyline will enjoy this series about a bus driver turned schoolteacher who falls back in love with his ex-girlfriend who just so happens to be the principal. Expect goofy situational humor and gender wars.
As very few Italian series are dubbed in English, the best way to use these to practice your listening is to watch them in the original Italian with subtitles. If your level of Italian isn’t quite up there yet send us an inquiry and we’ll get you on your way.