The Best Italian Movies to Watch on Netflix in 2024

One effective method for enhancing your Italian skills is by immersing yourself in media in the target language, and a convenient way to do so is by watching Italian films. Not only will you get a glimpse of Italian locations and culture, but you’ll also hear native actors speaking the language!

With numerous streaming services available, accessing Italian films is relatively easy, even if you reside in another country. In this article, we’ll explore what Netflix, one of the most popular platforms, has to offer. While its collection of Italian films may not match the number of English-language titles (let’s face it, it never will), there’s still a noteworthy selection of titles worth exploring.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through the process of discovering Italian films on Netflix, provide a curated list of recommendations, and share tips on how to watch other films in Italian.

Step 1: Find Italian films on Netflix

To easily discover Italian films on Netflix, simply type “Italian” into the search bar. You’ll see a list of suggestions, including the option for Italian-language films. Click on it to browse through Italian movies and documentaries. Alternatively, you can directly search for the keyword “Italian language films” in the search bar for a similar result.

Screenshot of Italian films selection on Netflix
Italian-language film keyword suggestion on Netflix

Step 2: Choose a film

Choosing a film from the list can be daunting, especially if you’re not well-versed in Italian cinema, its actors, and directors. To help you get started, here’s a curated selection of films.

Note: I’ve prioritized films produced and/or distributed by Netflix because they are likely to remain on the platform indefinitely. Keep in mind that you may come across other films that are licensed to Netflix for a limited time. Additionally, note that the selection of films available may vary from country to country.

L’incredibile storia dell’Isola delle Rose

(lit. The incredible story of the Island of Roses)

English title: Rose Island

Giorgio constructs his own island in the Adriatic Sea, located 11 kilometers off the coast of Emilia Romagna, and proclaims it an independent micro-nation. This comedy-drama is inspired by the remarkable true story of Giorgio Rosa and the Republic of Rose Island, which briefly existed in 1968. The film features acclaimed Italian actors including Elio Germano, Matilda De Angelis, and Luca Zingaretti.

Nuovo Olimpo

(lit. New Olympus)

Directed by Ferzan Özpetek, a critically acclaimed Turkish-Italian director, the film is set in Rome in the late 1970s and follows the story of two young men who fall in love but are separated by an unexpected event. Thirty years later, they search for each other again. The narrative is partially inspired by Özpetek’s own life.

18 Regali

English title: 18 Presents

The film tells the poignant true story of Elisa Girotto, who discovers she has terminal breast cancer while pregnant with her daughter Anna. Elisa decides to set aside 18 gifts for her daughter, so she can receive one present for each of her first 18 birthdays, and come to understand her mother’s love and sacrifice along the way.

Natale a Tutti i Costi

(lit. Christmas at all costs)

English title: The Price of Family

The film is a remake of the French movie “Mes très chers enfants” (My Very Dear Children) and follows the tale of a mature couple, Carlo and Anna, who fabricate an inheritance to persuade their adult children to join them for Christmas. It features Christian De Sica and Angela Finocchiaro, both renowned comedians in contemporary Italian cinema. Christian De Sica, the son of the legendary director Vittorio De Sica, carries on the cinematic legacy of his father, who played a pivotal role in the neorealism movement that emerged in Italy during the 1940s.

Era Ora

(lit. It was about time)

English title: Still Time

Dante and Alice share a beautiful relationship, but Dante finds himself constantly swamped with work, struggling to keep up with his hectic schedule. On his birthday, Dante becomes trapped in a time loop where each passing day signifies a one-year leap forward. Now, he must find a way to save their relationship and break free from his workaholic lifestyle.

This fantasy comedy-drama premiered at the Rome Film Festival in 2022. It’s a remake of the Australian film Long Story Short, released just a year earlier.

La Vita Davanti a Sé

(lit. The life ahead of himself)

English title: The Life Ahead

In “The Life Ahead,” Madame Rosa, a former prostitute and Holocaust survivor, takes in a young Senegalese kid named Momo after he attempts to rob her. Despite their initial differences, the two form an unexpected and profound bond. The film stars the legendary actress Sofia Loren, directed by her son Edoardo Ponti. Filmed in Bari, Puglia, in the south of Italy, the movie captures the beauty of the region as the backdrop to this touching story.

Sotto Il Sole di Riccione / Amalfi

English titles: Under the Riccione / Amalfi Sun

“Under the Riccione Sun” and its sequel, “Under the Amalfi Sun,” offer classic teen romance comedies that may not promise much in terms of depth, but they provide an opportunity to practice Italian while enjoying the stunning views of the Italian coast, particularly the breathtaking scenery of Amalfi.

The films follow the summer adventures of five friends and their romantic escapades by the sea. Among them, Vincenzo and Camilla’s love story unfolds in Riccione and continues a year later in Amalfi, after enduring a long-distance relationship.

It’s worth noting that the title of the first film is inspired by a popular song of the same name by the former band “The Giornalisti,” a nod to the English language in its title rather than using the Italian article “i.”

Lo Spietato

English title: The Ruthless

This crime drama delves into the ascent and downfall of Santo Russo, a notorious gangster operating in 1980s Milan. Inspired by the true-life figure Saverio Morabito, the character is portrayed by the acclaimed actor Riccardo Scamarcio.

La Mano di Dio

English title: The Hand of God

Set in Naples during the 1980s, the film traces the journey of Fabietto, an introspective teenager grappling with personal turmoil amidst family tragedy. As he navigates his uncertain path, marked by the promise of a burgeoning filmmaking career, his experiences shape his future.

Arguably the standout entry on this list, this film represents the pinnacle of Italian cinema. Directed by Paolo Sorrentino, one of the foremost figures in contemporary Italian filmmaking, it offers a deeply personal narrative infused with the director’s profound affection for his native city.

It’s worth noting that the film features dialogue rich in Neapolitan accent and dialect, making it a challenging watch for those unfamiliar with the language without Italian subtitles.

Sei Nell’Anima (Beautiful rebel)

Release on May 2024, this biographical film portrays the life and career of singer-songwriter Gianna Nannini, drawing from her autobiography as source material. Titled “Sei nell’Anima” in Italian, a reference to one of Nannini’s most renowned songs, the film promises an intimate exploration of her journey through the highs and lows of her personal and professional life.

Step 3: Check the audio and activate the subtitles!

Watching Italian films with Italian audio and subtitles is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the language and improve your comprehension skills. By listening to the dialogue while reading the subtitles, you reinforce your understanding of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. Plus, it’s an enjoyable way to experience authentic Italian culture and storytelling.

Netflix language settings icon
Netflix language settings

Note: At times, you might only come across subtitles in English or other languages, or you might find Italian subtitles paired with Closed Captions (CC) for viewers who are hard of hearing. Sadly, this isn’t always within your control. It hinges on the country you’re streaming from and the choices made by the content provider for that particular film.

Sticking with the Italian-Italian method can be challenging initially, and the temptation to switch to English subtitles (or those in your native language) may be strong. However, I urge you to resist! English subtitles tend to divert your attention away from what you’re hearing, causing you to focus more on the text than the spoken language. Persist with Italian-Italian settings, and try watching the same film multiple times. You’ll be surprised at how much more you understand with each viewing. This approach mirrors how I learned much of my English before relocating to the UK.

Step 4 (optional): What about non-Italian films?

If none of the films listed above catch your interest, or if you’re simply in the mood for something different, there’s still hope for finding other films in Italian. Many movies released in Italy are dubbed by professional actors, making them available in Italian audio. Whether you’ll also have Italian subtitles depends on your location, but if the film is a Netflix production, you might have better luck.

One thing to note is that Italian may not appear as a language option unless your Netflix profile is set to Italian. To do this, you’ll need to log in to your Netflix account using a computer (desktop or laptop), or use a mobile device with a browser instead of the Netflix app (the app won’t allow you to change your profile’s language). My advice is to create a second profile for Italian, so that your main one remains in English (especially if multiple people use that profile in your family).

Profile language settings on Netflix

You can follow the step-by-step instructions in our guide on how to get Italian audio and subtitles on Netflix. Keep in mind that this doesn’t guarantee Italian options for all films on the platform, but it ensures the option is available if Italian audio and subtitles are provided for the film (depending on your region).

What about TV Shows?

I’m glad you asked! We’ve also created an article about Italian TV series. Check it out!

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Lingopie (affiliate link) is the Netflix of language learning application that uses real TV shows and movies to help you learn a new language. You can choose a show to watch based on your fluency level, and use the interactive subtitles to get instant translations to help you learn quickly.

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