Italian TV continues to make it big around the world. Some of its most popular telly exports are sold to eager stations around the world. Many of these have been on the screen for quite some time, while other newcomers have made quite an impact in their timeframes. Here's my guide to some of the best known Italian TV programmes around today!
Based on the novels of Andrea Camilleri, the eponymous Inspector Montalbano is one of the most famous detectives on the small screen in Italy.
The firm but fair detective is actually celebrating his 20th anniversary on RAI TV this year. With the aid of his colleagues, friends and even outsiders, Montalbano is committed to solving a slew of crimes in the area. Recreating the events of the terrible deeds, Montalbano ensures that the fictional town of Vigàta is a safer place to be.
This crime show has enjoyed massive success since its initiation in 1999. With the show's popularity cemented in its viewing figures, the show moved from RAI 2 to RAI 1 for its third series. Luca Zingaretti's portrayal of Montalbano brings Camilleri's creation to life with gusto – and with such a success on its hands, the inevitable prequel was commissioned in 2012 to revisit the inspector's younger days.
Crime-fighters don't always have to be of the conventional inspector mould. Catholic priest, Father Matteo is minding his business in the Gubbio parish when he happens to become embroiled in local crimes.
Whereas other detectives go in with a gung-ho approach to catching the criminals, Matteo takes a gentler approach – talking with the wrong-doers and convincing them to see the error of their ways.
It's that approach that has proved to be a hit with Italian viewers. It's nearly been on RAI 1 since 2000, just one year shy of Inspector Montalbano – so it's another 20th anniversary to mark next year. Terence Hill's winning depiction of Matteo has won the hearts of millions of viewers, and continues to do so as the programme approaches its anniversary milestone.
For the younger viewers in Italy, Winx Club is one of the most popular of its kind. The brainchild of Iginio Straffi, the series takes you to a multi-dimensional universe and to the Magic Dimension, where anything can and does happen. Here, you can find the Alfea College for Fairies, at which the Winx girls study – and also help to defeat the forces of evil.
Leader, Bloom! Sun Fairy, Stella! Nature Fairy, Flora! Technology Fairy, Tecna! Music Fairy, Music! Waves Fairy, Aisha! Animal Fairy, Roxy! Doing battle against terrible witches called the Trix (that's Icy, Darcy and Stormy, by the way)!
The animation series has been a massive hit with girls tuning into RAI 2, who can latch onto the adventures and the trials and tribulations of growing up.
GomorrahBack to some crime drama, and a more recent arrival. Gomorrah is based on the book by Roberto Saviano, and launched in May 2014 on Sky Italia. It's become a worldwide smash since it first aired, selling to more than 170 countries around the globe. Boasting some stunning filming in Naples, the compelling scripts tell the story of Ciro Di Marzio, who concentrates on fielding the crimes of the area. The drama has won critical and viewer acclaim for the quality of the scripts, the characterisation, the acting (with plaudits going to Marco D'Amore as Ciro), and the production.
This December, the final season of Medici premiered on RAI 1, earning a hat-trick of success. This historical drama takes you back to the era of the Renaissance, and the happenings of the Medici family. Each of the three seasons have occurred at different times, with the tale beginning in 1429 (Medici: Masters Of Florence), moving on to 1449 (Medici: The Magnificent, which is also the name of the 2019 season). Produced in conjunction with Britain, the drama is a lavish and big-scale affair. Part of the fun is spotting where the drama was filmed. Familiar sights include Bracciano Castle, Villa Farnese, Hadrian's Villa, Viterbo's old town and many more!
Il Paradiso Delle Signore
Another period drama, this one moves relatively up to date to the mid-point of the 20th century. If you grew up in or have a fondness for the period of the 1950s, this could well be the drama for you.
It's proved to be very popular with viewers over its four seasons. The TV show is loosely based on Emile Zola's Au Bonheur Des Dames, revolving around the everyday happenings of the staff at a Milan-based department store.
Having just emerged from the Second World War, the protagonists of the show are facing change in their lives, recovering and moving on. There's plenty of scope here for great characterisation, humour and poignancy, which this show achieves in spades. It's an era that's so far removed from the tech-savvy, social media-dominated 21st century, and it's that simplicity that gives Il Paradiso Delle Signore its considerable appeal.
Provaci Ancora Prof
We've had regular inspectors, priests, and now a high school teacher helping to solve the most fiendish of crimes.
Thanks to Professor Camilla Baudino, the crime levels are that bit lower. Provaci Ancora Prof has proved to be a winning formula with viewers. Perhaps it's that domestic angle that the programme takes – Camilla isn't your everyday gritty detective but a teacher at locations including a technical sales institute and an adult education school. She's also a family woman, married with a daughter.
Or the fact that it's an enjoyable experience: well made and performed with some brilliantly worked out plots.
Un Posto Al Sole
The hottest soap opera property in Italy, Un Posto Al Sole's enduring popularity continues as it creeps towards its quarter century milestone.
Charting the shenanigans of the occupants in and around the Palladini Palace, Un Posto Al Sole follows the same lines as Australia's Neighbours. Mixing humour, drama and social commentary, this soap opera achieves the perfect blend of grit and wit.
Co-created by Wayne Doyle, Adam Bowen and Gino Ventriglia, Un Posto Al Sole makes a virtue of its sunny Naples location and its eclectic cast. Palazzo Palladini looks like the ideal place to be, a magnificent palace that overlooks the sea. While most of us probably couldn't afford such luxury, the next best thing is to catch up with the regular happenings of the Un Posto Al Sole peoples over at RAI 3.