In this article we decided to talk about the 10 best Italian TV shows that you could watch to have some fun and, at the same time, improve your Italian, listening to the Italian language in all its facets, informal and not!
Learn Italian with Italian TV Shows
The huge success and positive reviews of our book Italiano Colloquiale, made us realize that many foreign students of Italian crave to learn the Italian that we use every day, rather than boring and repetitive grammatical rules!
So we asked ourselves, what is the best way to learn all the words and expressions that Italians use daily? Watching Italian television!
1 – Le Iene
The first program I present to you is perfect for both those who want to have fun and those looking for something a little more serious. It is a program that aims at getting into the Italian and international current affairs through serious, sometimes also satirical and funny, services and reportage, all made by its reporters, men and women dressed in black suits, white shirt and black tie, called “iene.”
The broadcast has become popular over the years, especially for their services on “hot” and critical topics, such as the scandal of sexual harassment in the Pope’s college for altar boys, or the investigation on the Ilva of Taranto, the case of harassment in Italian cinema industry or illegal gambling, or drugs in Parliament and so on.
Another feature of the program, lighter to say, are double interviews: two famous people (usually who know each other well as friends, partners in life or on screen) are asked the same questions and their interviews (characterized by different background colors) are put on beside the other on the screen, to see how each one answers the same question. These are definitely fun and it’s really a pleasure to watch them when you have 10-15 minutes off.
2 – Pechino Express
The second program I want to talk about is perfect for those who want to relax, have a laugh and travel a bit with their imagination. This program consist in a race between couples (usually people who know each other) who have to face a journey of about 8000km to reach a certain destination on a stage trip of a few days.
Each competitor has a minimum equipment contained in a backpack (sleeping bag, water bottle…) and one euro per day in local currency in order to eat. They have to travel the km “at zero cost”, so they have to ask the locals for lifts to get around and also hospitality to spend the night. Couples cannot use the money to pay for transportation, but they can ask locals to pay for their public transport tickets.
On the various routes there are small “missions” that couples have to face in order to advance in the game. The goal is to get to the various missions before the other couples: the one who arrive last at the end of each episode, is eliminated.
The final prize money is then donated to a local charity association.
It is really pleasant and fun to see famous people abandon their comforts and survive with a few pennies and in a humble way. Super recommended!
3 – Sanremo
This program is probably one of those programs that most of you already knew before you even read this article. It’s a bit of the quintessential Italian program that has arrived this year at its 70th edition!
Its full name is “Festival della canzone italiana” or “Festival di Sanremo” and it is a festival held in the homonymous Ligurian city. It is a song contest, in which about twenty more or less famous singers participate. Each proposes his/her song, unreleased, that means never performed publicly before, otherwise they could be subjected to disqualification.
It lasts about 5 days, in which the participants perform their songs, but also duets with other singers, and the songs are judged by various juries, made by both competent journalists and normal people (with votes from the audience at home, for example).
In the end, only one song wins, which will represent Italy in the next edition of the Eurovision Song Contest.
It’s the perfect program for those of you who are music enthusiasts, but rest assured: there’s not only music! It really is a program in which a lot of money is invested, so there are Italian and international guests, singers, actors and often even celebrities become famous for the message they convey. This year, for example, there was a beautiful moment when a sick ALS boy came on stage and wrote a song and sang it with his brother and a friend: a beautiful message and a very moving moment!
4 – Viva RaiPlay
Viva RaiPlay is an absolute novelty this year, but it has become a real success! It is a variety program conducted by one of the most famous – and good – Italian comedians: Fiorello! It’s also new because it didn’t air on television, but only on the online platform of the TV channel, but it still got important ratings, both thanks to Fiorello’s hilarious sketches, and his many very good guests, who are singers, actors, presenters, directors, cooks, in short, there is a bit of everything!
We recommend it especially if you have a good level of Italian, because, as you know, it is not easy to understand jokes and sarcasm in other languages other than your own!
5 – Striscia La Notizia
Striscia La Notizia is another of those programs that we could call “iconic” of the Italian TV! It combines the format of the news with political satire and fun.
The two presenters, in addition to the various services often of political satire, also deal with issues, such as scams and scandals, or more fun reports, such as discovering surgical tweaks and the worst outfits of VIPs.
Each show lasts about half an hour. In addition, iconic figures such as “le veline” and “il Gabibbo” were born here. The first are two girls (the name comes from the fact that they originally carried the sheets – called “veline” – to the conductors) that act as dancers for the initial and final theme songs. Il Gabibbo, on the other hand, is a red mascots, with a strong Genoa accent that originally sang the theme song and has now become the icon of the program.
6 – C’è Posta per Te
If you are sentimental, this is the Italian program for you, since it really pushes on feelings and emotions.
It is a very special format: ordinary people contact the editor of the program to track down friends, family or acquaintances who they haven’t heard or seen for a long time for various reasons: to be reunited with relatives with whom they had interrupted the relationship, recovering lost love bonds, finding love or friendships of youth, or clarifying outstanding issues.
Recipients receive a letter from a special postman (sent from the broadcast) at home. The letter contains an invitation to go to the studio, even though they do not know who sends them to call. They may or may not accept. Once they arrive at the studio, they find out who the sender is and have the choice not to listen to the message and then leave, or to listen and decide to rejoin the sender, opening or closing a symbolic “window” in the shape of an envelope.
Sometimes, however, there is someone who contacts the direction to make a well-deserved gift to someone dear to them, and in this case often intervene guests from all over the world, according to the tastes of the recipient (actors, footballers, singers and so on).
7 – Nuovi Eroi
This is a programe with a much more serious tone, not surprisingly it is carried out in collaboration with the Presidency of the Republic.They talk about, as the title says, the new heroes of our time, events that give a real insight into the Italy animated by a deep civic sense and that express the sense of community that defines it a nation.
These are therefore stories of people who have accomplished great feats for the Italian population, albeit with great difficulty, to whom was recognized by the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.The episodes last about twenty minutes and offer a decidedly different and very beautiful view of our beautiful country. Super recommended!
8 – Reazione a Catena
This program is perfect for those who love puzzle games and crosswords. It is really useful for those who want to test themselves with the Italian language! I assure you that the games played often put even Italians themselves in trouble, but it is really useful for those who want to learn new Italian words.
In all games, competitors must discover similarities between words and phrases in a game of associations that leads from one word chain to another, based on common meanings, proverbs, aphorisms, movie or book titles, and so on. The programe therefore requires competitors to have a good knowledge of the Italian language.
Two teams made up of three people each participate in the game. The members of each team can have any kind of connection to each other, such as friendship, kinship or work. After a brief presentation of the competitors, the race begins, with the six games of which it is composed.
The winning team can play the last game and try to win the money, as well as participate in the next episode.
9 – Uomini e Donne
Let’s go back to the kind of TV that is often called “trash”, filled with quarrels, tears, screams, laughter and many more!
It is, in a nutshell, a dating program, in which, as the title says, single men and women participate in the hope of finding their soul mate: there is also the gay version and the mature version, for the elderly.
If you love the genre and want to find out how people quarrel in Italian, as well as also learn slang and vulgar expressions, it’s the right programe for you!
10 – La Pupa e il Secchione (and vice versa)
The authors of the programe have called it “a social experiment”, the goal is to bring together two completely opposite worlds: that of the so-called “pupe”, particularly attractive women, who usually do not care much about their knowledge, or at least not as much as they care for their own body and aesthetics, with that of the so-called “secchioni”, educated men, scholars, with intellectual interests and generally lacking a social life.
This year the reverse version of the programe was also introduced, with “pupi” and “secchione”.The fun part of the program lies in the almost total lack of harmony in the couples, who will have to face various tests. The geeky part will face tests of a more aesthetic and “frivolous” character, while the other part will face tests of knowledge and intelligence. The pair who will be better at getting out of their own world to enter the other’s will win a cash prize.
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