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Cultural Learning Aids of Italy

Posted: 9th January 2019 16:31

With the help of popular media, you will soon be able to go full Pavarotti and profess your Italian language skills with a loud and booming ‘Vincerò!

TV Shows

Beginner: Scuola di vampiri

This children’s horror comedy animation has all the quirky characters you want from a great kids show. Like any teen at school, our vegetarian vampiric hero, Oskar, leads his macabre crew through pranks, crushes and exams. Listen carefully, there are lots of Gothic references to pick up on.

Intermediate: CentoVetrine

Italy’s most successful daytime soap opera is easy to follow and is quintessentially Italian – lots of passion, power struggles, tension and quarrelling, all set in an imaginary shopping centre in Turin. Intense, steamy rain scenes guaranteed.

Advanced:Gomorra

In 2014, Italian audiences were captivated by this outstanding mafia drama. This no holds barred nail biter unearths the dangerous underbelly of Naples infamous mafia culture and explores politics, corruption and contemporary social issues. Plot twists and unforgiving characters not for the faint hearted.

Movies

Beginner: Cinema Paradiso

With an uncomplicated plot revolving around friendship, love and the movies, Cinema Paradiso tells the life story of a fictional Italian film director as he makes his journey home. This charming ‘coming to terms’ tale is well-paced with few twists, but perfectly portrays Italy’s relationship with film.

Intermediate: La grande bellezza

Winner of 36 global awards, this comedy drama of an ageing, but expert socialite in Rome, was acclaimed for its cutting wit, absurdity and excess. With a bizarre array of paradoxical characters, the film is sometimes intentionally difficult and bewildering so, you will need to prick up your ears.

Advanced: Il Divo

The infamous 40 year political career of PM Giulio Andreotti was tempered with questionable antics which make Silvio Berlusconi look like Mickey Mouse. This dark biographical drama puts a critical spotlight on 20th century Italy, exploring the conspiratorial webs of politics and society with perfect dry humour.

Books

Beginner: Le avventure di Pinocchio

Carlo Collodi’s 1883 children’s literary masterpiece of a mischievous wooden puppet called Pinocchio is known across the world. With basic language, simple structure and a renowned plot, you can navigate the novel easily even if you get confused. Luckily for us, Collodi (spoiler) removed Pinocchio’s gruesome death from the final novel!

Intermediate: La forma dell’acqua

Crime fiction in Italy has enjoyed unprecedented success and its master remains 89-year-old Andrea Camilleri. His long running Inspector Montalbano series runs rings around Miss Marple as the gripping, and eyebrow raising, introduction to his debut affirms. Comic, shocking and topical, the stories are handily formulaic but still gripping.

Advanced:Se questo è un uomo

‘Humanity in the midst of inhumanity’ is the challenging question posed by Primo Levi’s epic account of life in Auschwitz. Intertwining poetry, memoir and novel, Se questo è un uomo traces Levi’s trails of incarceration and his difficult recovery upon liberation in a blunt fashion which is hard-hitting and intense.

Music

Beginner: Lucio Battisti

With a clear voice, slow pace and basic pop formula, Italy’s most influential musician, Battisti, is easy to decipher. Incorporating folk elements and upbeat tempos, the singer is comparable to The Beatles and Bob Dylan – best to start with his self-entitled first album.

Intermediate: Luciano Pavarotti

Luciano Pavarotti is one of the most commercially successful tenors of all time and whether you know the words or not, you will at least know the tune to his most famous song Nessun Dorma. His loud, clear and booming vocals make it easy to pronounce. However, not all of his operatic releases are quite as slow paced and easy to learn.

Advanced: Frankie hi-nrg mc

Hip hop innovator Frankie was at the forefront of Italy’s original movement in the 1990s. Renowned for his complex and intellectual rhymes, the artist predominantly discuses politics and society with a witty, critical edge. Frankie sees his role as both rapper and teacher therefore, pay close attention to his messages.

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