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Favorite TV Shows Based in Italy

Whether you are an Italophile or not, these 10 Italian TV shows will help you understand more about the Italian culture and take you to Italy virtually from home. These TV shows set in Italy are unique are some of my favorite and watching them will help you appreciate the Italian way of living. So grab a glass of wine and enjoy these favorite TV shows based in Italy.

Favorite TV Shows Based in Italy

1. Alex Polizzi’s Secret Italy

My top recommendation for a show set in Italy is the underrated “Secret Italy” by Alex Polizzi. In this show, Polizzi takes you on a journey to the “secret” places of Italy. These places are not as known to a first time traveler of Italy so you will be surprised by how quickly your Italy list increases!

Secret Italy is a show centered around Polizzi’s past life and connections across Italy. The host takes you to her ancestral village, to places she lived and even to places she spent time with her ex.

Currently based in England, Alex Polizzi comes across as a passionate woman who is deeply in love with her land and heritage.

She is connected to her Italian roots and also has a thirst for all things Italian.

In Secret Italy Polizzi features mouth watering Italian food and wine, stunning seaside towns, lush green fields and tons of community love. This shows teaches you what it means to be Italian and is an emotional ride across the Bel Paese. All in all a great escape!

Where can you watch??

The show is in English and can be watched on Channel 5 if you’re in Britain. For the rest of the world check out the episodes on YouTube below.

2. Italy Unpacked

If you’ve seen this show I am guaranteeing you have a huge smile on your face! The hosts of the show Giorgio Locatelli and Andrew Graham-Dixon, lovers of Italian food and art respectively, together explore different corners of Italy.

From the biggest cities to the alleys of small towns, Italy Unpacked is a show packed with crazy ideas for your next Italian sojourn.

This show inspired me to visit Emilia Romagna and see the most unassuming stores, churches and areas.

My favorite episodes are that on Sicily and Liguria because I love these two regions immensely. Following the series, the makers of the show also did a series called “Sicily Unpacked” and “Rome Unpacked” which were equally fun and informative.

Where can you watch??

The show is in English and can be watched on DailyMotion or BBC. You can also buy the DVD from this link.

3. Il Commissario Montalbano

Yes yes yes!! This is one of the most popular Italian shows which also happens to be my favorite. I am a HUGE fan of Commissario Montalbano, especially the books written by the late Andrea Camilleri, which you can learn more here.

The Inspector Montalbano series, set in the mysterious island of Sicily, explores crimes in the fictional town of Vigata (inspired by the author’s own hometown- Porto Empedocle).

This show features Luca Zingaretti as the multi faceted lead along with characters that seemingly jump right out of the book. 

Montalbano speaks a blend of Sicilian and Italian language but the show is available in Italian with English subtitles.

The best part about watching Inspector Montalbano is that it is as long as an entire movie so grab a bowl of popcorn and enjoy Camilleri’s dry humor. Don’t forget making a list of your favourite Sicilian baroque towns.

The show’s last episode streamed on March 8, 2021, running for a total of 15 seasons. 

Where can you watch??

You can buy the DVD or watch the series on DailyMotion. Also check the Amazon link here.

Inspector Montalbano books in order

Inspector Montalbano’s home!

4. Gomorrah

Gomorrah is a dark and critically acclaimed Italian show based on the Mafia. This TV show is in both Italian language and the Neapolitan dialect and will open your eyes to a different Italy. This is the Italy we are probably curious of but don’t want to see. I’m of course talking of the world of The Italian Mafia!

Gomorrah is  a gritty show with intense characters, ugly scenes and dirty details. 

The four seasons are very promising although my favorite was the first! If you prefer reading the book first, order Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano today.

Where can you watch??

You can buy the DVD with English subtitles here.

5. Baby

Oh you’d probably think you’re too old for a high school drama because I felt the same, but don’t go by the cheesy title.

Baby is a dark Italian show that features the story of two high school girls who go through teenage crisis but somehow end up in prostitution. 

This show is loosely based on a true story. Although there is a lot glamour and chicness in the show, the Roman slang and complicated plotlines makes one feel heavily invested in the characters.

Where can you watch??

Baby is available on Netflix.

6. My Brilliant Friend

Elena Ferrante is a household name in Italy and even though the first book of The Neopolitan Series came out in 2011, the author became more popular across the world after the TV series was released.

 In 2018, HBO and Rai1 premiered the first season of the book “My Brilliant Friend” (L’amica Geniale). The series is in the original language (Neapolitan and Italian) with English subtitles. It has been a huge success not because of great storytelling but because it was made so true to the books. 

Where can you watch??

You can buy the DVD here or watch it on Amazon Prime if you’re in the US.

More recommendations of TV shows based in Italy are:

7. The Trip to Italy

Slow, easy and informative show about two men eating and traveling across Italy, available on BBC

8. Medici: Masters of Florence

A historic drama based on the Medici family. It has many a historical inaccuracies but is still worth watching, available on Netflix

9. Suburra -Blood on Rome

Suburra is a show about an organized crime group in Rome. The story revolves around politics in the Vatican and Rome along with real estate in Ostia. Available on Netflix

10. The Trial

This TV show is called Processo in Italiano and is a murder mystery set in Mantua, The Trial is a fast paced series with 10 episodes and is available on Netflix

Further Reading:

A Chronological Listing of Andrea Camilleri’s Books

Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life.

Anna Akhmatova

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33 Comments

  • Lesley
    March 20, 2021 at 2:35 am

    I love your list! 🙂 the Young Montalbano is good as well

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      March 20, 2021 at 11:21 am

      Thanks for reading, Lesley. Young Montalbano is extremely well made I did not expect it to be so good

      Reply
  • […] Have you seen these TV shows set in Italy? […]

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  • Carol
    July 23, 2018 at 7:34 am

    While I appreciate your recommendations, and have watched some of them, the Medici series is pure soap opera, not even close to their story. However, many scenes were filmed in our home town, Pienza. It was fun watching the filming, plus a number of people we know were extras. We tried watching the series, but it was PAINFUL, as lovers of history, and knowledgeable on the specifics of Italian history.

    I would add a German series, based on Dona Leon’s Commissario Brunetti. They have been running for several years now, but only in German. I have heard rumors that her books may eventually be translated into Italian, but just rumors. I have read she is against having them translated into Italian. They are fun reads though, more social commentary than detective stories. Make sure to read or view them in order, as the characters develop over time. Read them, then pick up Brunetti’s Venice, 14 walking tours of the city, before heading there…..(ok, so little off topic, but like you, we are both Italophiles.

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      July 23, 2018 at 8:23 pm

      I have mentioned that there are historical inaccuracies in that show, of course it is soap opera! I unfortunately don’t get the German show here but I have enjoyed her books in the past 😉 Only read 4-5 as of now but I love reading them in order too.

      Reply
  • Tony Staffaroni
    July 17, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    Great list, I love Montalbano! 🙂

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      July 19, 2018 at 4:40 pm

      Yay me too. Yet to watch the latest season 🙂

      Reply
  • LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia
    July 16, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    For American TV watchers (not sure if it aired elsewhere in the world) – there was a show called Parenthood that has been remade and revised in Italian. In Italian it’s called “Tutto Puo Succedere”. This is not an American show dubbed over in Italian – it has an Italian cast, it’s set in Rome and there are some minor changes to the story line. I loved Parenthood so I’m really enjoying this version! 🙂 It airs on RAI so it’s possible that it can be watched via streaming on their website!

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      July 16, 2018 at 4:43 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll definitely check this out 🙂

      Reply
  • Image Earth Travel
    July 15, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    I don’t watch TV but love movies.

    I’ve nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award because I love your blog!
    https://imageearthtravel.com/2018/07/15/sunshine-blogger-award-2/

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      July 15, 2018 at 9:49 pm

      Thank you so much dear!! You are so kind 🙂 Grazie tante!!

      Reply
  • Lorelle
    July 15, 2018 at 11:18 am

    I remember staying in Montepulciano when they filmed Medicis Masters of Florence. Loved watching it some months later when we returned back home.
    Great list lovely. I love Montalbano too. Xx

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      July 15, 2018 at 6:54 pm

      That was really cool, I remember you mentioned it earlier. Thank you!!

      Reply
  • Mybookjacket
    July 15, 2018 at 7:50 am

    I’ve had Gomorrah and Medici on my list for a while now. Both sound right up my alley. Didn’t realise Il Commissario Montalbano existed! Can’t wait to try that too.

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      July 15, 2018 at 6:54 pm

      I think you will love Medici. Montalbano is there, I think even dailymotion has it. Though I downloaded some episdoes.

      Reply
  • Kelly
    July 13, 2018 at 11:37 pm

    So many new shows to add to my list! 😉 Hope I can find some of these on Netflix!

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      July 14, 2018 at 11:36 am

      Medici is there on Netflix as far as I recall 🙂

      Reply
  • Tanja
    July 13, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    I watch Montalbano too:)

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      July 13, 2018 at 5:48 pm

      Favroite character??

      Reply
  • Kathryn Occhipinti
    July 13, 2018 at 7:00 am

    I’m glad you liked “Medicis Masters of Florence” . I really enjoyed this series and it was a relief to get away from all of the Mafia based series that usually play on TV. Most “historical” TV series do change the facts up a bit for dramatic purposes. I thought the characters and scenes were really engaging. But you didn’t tell people where to find the series!

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      July 13, 2018 at 11:17 am

      I actually saw it on Netflix. Not sure, will add it!! Thanks 🙂 I didn’t like how the cities got changed, it was too much in my opinion. The characters were good though.

      Reply
      • marilyneb
        July 13, 2018 at 1:02 pm

        I think that one is only available on Netflix (at least here In the UK).

        Reply
  • Marilyn Booth
    July 12, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    You’ve picked some of my absolute favourites – I loved Medici Masters of Florence and can’t wait for the next series. And so glad you’ve seen both Alex Polizzi and Italy Unpacked. We’re really lucky to get such great series here in the UK! Rome Unpacked had me just itching to go back!

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      July 13, 2018 at 11:15 am

      Thanks Marilyn. I am happy to suggest more in the future 😉 You really are lucky because here I always have to hunt. Obviously the proximity of UK and Italy and the fact that so many Italians are there, helps.

      Reply
  • Francis Pettitt
    July 12, 2018 at 10:39 pm

    An excellent selection. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      July 13, 2018 at 11:13 am

      Thanks Francis 🙂 I am glad your comments are coming through now

      Reply
  • karoleira
    July 12, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    Anche
    Incantesimo
    Madre, Aiutami
    Lui e Lei
    Sospetti
    e tanti altri 🙂

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      July 12, 2018 at 8:01 pm

      Magari! It’s not as easy finding Italian language shows here. But thanks for the recommendations 🙂

      Reply

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