Watching the local Italian TV channels helped me a lot in picking up new Italian words, improving my vocabulary, and immersing myself in Italian culture.
With its rich history, art, and culture – Italy has created a captivating tapestry of Italian TV channels and shows that not only entertain but also offer an immersive glimpse into the country’s unique way of life.
For English speakers looking to explore Italian television, a plethora of remarkable shows await, spanning various genres from entertainment and comedy to documentaries and cooking shows.
Here, we delve into some of my favourite, and best Italian TV channels and shows that an English-speaking audience can follow.
Soliti Ignoti – Identità Nascoste
Soliti Ignoti translated as Hidden Identity in English is hosted by Amadeus Sebastiani. The game, based on the American format Identity aired on NBC, provides for the presence of a competitor and a group of mysterious characters, better known as unknowns.
A contestant is introduced to eight strangers and given a list of facts about their ages, hobbies, and occupations. In order to win, the contestant must match the facts to the correct stranger.
Soliti Ignoti, the Italian TV show airs on Rai 1 during the winter months, usually starting in September from 9.00 pm on weekdays.
Hosted by Gerry Scotti, the TV show airs on Canale 5 from 6.45 pm on Mondays to Saturdays. The mechanism of the game involves challenges between 11 competitors (a champion and ten challengers).
The champion chooses each time, alternating between a man and a woman, an opponent. The challenge takes place with the conductor who asks general knowledge questions, formulated as definitions, in which some letters of the answers are already displayed and which must be answered in 30 seconds, with an unlimited number of attempts.
One of the most fascinating parts of the show is when the contestant, who is to exit the show falls through a traphole.
Ballando con le Stelle
Hosted by Milly Carlucci, it is a talent show starring a group of VIPs from the world of entertainment and sport who, paired with professional dancers, have to learn to dance, performing various types of ballroom dancing during the episodes.
A jury of five experts has the task of judging the dance tests supported by the competing couples, both from a purely technical and artistic point of view, including costumes, stage presence, and facial expressions of the dancers.
In addition to performances in pairs, in several episodes there are special rehearsals concerning particular types of dance, sometimes performed individually by the VIPs in the competition.
Ballando con le Stelle airs every Saturday night starting in October, and runs until December each year, on the Italian TV Channel – Rai 1 at 8.35 pm.
Striscia la Notizia
For those who enjoy satire and humor, Striscia la Notizia offers a unique take on news reporting. This satirical news show pokes fun at current events, politics, and celebrity culture.
While understanding every nuance might require a firm grasp of Italian, the visual gags and comedic sketches can be entertaining even without fluency in the language.
Striscia la Notizia airs from Monday to Saturday at 8.35 pm on Channel 5.
The Voice Italia
The show features aspiring singers, who audition throughout Italy, and participate in a singing contest to win the title of ‘The Voice of Italy’. The show has two segments – The Voice Kids, and The Voice Senior.
The Voice Italia usually airs in the first quarter of the year on the Italian TV channels Rai 2, Rai 1, and Rai Premium.
The Italian TV programme involves a challenge between seven competitors in different tests, up to the proclamation of the winner of the episode who will thus be able to access the final phase of the game, the guillotine.
Hosted by Flavio Insinna – the protagonist of the last four editions, the upcoming editions will be hosted by Pino Insegno. The Italian TV show airs daily from 6.50 pm on Rai 1.
Local Cooking and Culinary Shows
Culinary enthusiasts will savour MasterChef Italia, the Italian adaptation of the globally popular cooking competition.
While the language might be foreign, the universal language of food transcends borders, making this show a delightful experience even for non-Italian speakers.
Starting in September, you can watch a replay of MasterChef Italia on TV8. The time and dates vary.
Step into the lush landscapes and fertile fields of Italy with Linea Verde. This long-running show focuses on the country’s agriculture, food and wine production, and culinary heritage.
Each episode explores different regions, offering insights into local farming practices, traditional recipes, and the stories of the people who cultivate the land.
For English speakers interested in Italian gastronomy and rural life, Linea Verde provides a rich tapestry of insights.
Linea Verde usually run from September to June on Sundays from 12.20 pm, and it is hosted by Beppe Convertini and Peppone Calabrese.
Regional Travel and Exploration Shows
“Borghi d’Italia” is a program that explores the enchanting small towns and villages that dot the Italian landscape. The show delves into the history, architecture, and unique features of these lesser-known locales.
Though the commentary is in Italian, the picturesque scenery and historical insights can resonate with viewers who appreciate the charm of Italy’s hidden gems.
Borghi d’Italia airs Saturdays and Sundays at 12.15 pm on TV2000 (number 55).
Geo is an Italian television program of the documentary genre, broadcast since 1984 on Rai 3. The transmission is currently conducted by Sveva Sagramola and Emanuele Biggi, biologist and nature-loving photographer.
The topics covered range from culture to the climate, from animals to new technologies, from nature to gastronomy up to current affairs.
Geo airs on Mondays to Fridays from 5.00 pm to 6.30 pm on Rai 3.
Linea Blu offers viewers a journey through the country’s coastal towns, islands, and maritime heritage. The Italian TV Show tells the beauty of the sea, its fragility, and the importance of the biodiversity it preserves.
The show’s main objective is to develop the culture of the sea, with its economic and social potential, always paying close attention to environmental and safety problems that are sometimes forgotten. While the commentary might be in Italian, the breathtaking visuals and captivating stories of these shows can transport English speakers to the beauty of Italy’s shores.
Hosted by Fabio Gallo and Donatella Bianchi, Linea Blu airs at 2.00 pm on Rai 1 and usually starts in May.
I recommend you have a look at these shows and you can slowly narrow down to the ones you prefer, also considering the show time and your interests.
Are there any other Italian TV shows I have missed out on? Let me know in the comment box below.