While cultural immersion is important for studying any language, it could arguably be even more so for Italian, a language that has to be felt as much as spoken. Italians, after all, speak with their hands as well as their mouths. That’s the sort of thing you can’t learn from a textbook alone. Enter Italian podcasts.
Beyond bolstering your budding language skills with real conversation, listening to Italian podcasts is an excellent way to immerse yourself further in the language and get a feel for how Italian is actually spoken — not to mention cultural topics and current events that matter to Italian people. If you’re on the hunt for some engaging and helpful shows, here are some of the best Italian podcasts for language learners.
Italian Podcasts For Language Learners
News in Slow Italian
Get your regular news — and have it spoon-fed to you at whatever speed you’d like. News in Slow Italian is exactly what it sounds like: weekly Italian lessons tailored to the listener’s comprehension level. You can choose from beginner, intermediate and advanced recordings, and each episode comes with a transcript so you can read as you listen. It’s not just news, either; you’ll also get mini lessons on Italian grammar and expressions.
If you like getting your information in bite-sized chunks, the manageable pace of the Caterpillar might be up your alley. The show is an afternoon radio program that airs on Italy’s Rai Radio 2, featuring hosts Sara Zambotti and Massimo Cirri dishing on the latest happenings in a sort of “cliff notes” version of what’s what. They also aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty from time to time. In 2015, the hosts petitioned the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Nobel Peace Prize of 2016 to the bicycle.
Babbel’s first Italian podcast was 4 Verticale. Listen to the show for the scintillating conversations between hosts Giulia Depentor and Stefano Nucera, as well as for the entertaining stories they tell in Italian. This is “the podcast that breaks the monotony of learning made up of only books and professors,” focusing on funny anecdotes about living abroad and, at times, vintage Italian insults.
Learn Italian With Music
Have you ever thought about how it’s easier to memorize song lyrics than it is to memorize, say, all the capitals of the world? It’s time to take that principle a bit further with Learn Italian With Music. Each of the episodes tackles a different term like casa (“home”) or essere (“to eat”), and looks at various songs where the term appears. Along the way, it looks at grammar, vocabulary and culture. It’s a great way to dip into Italian media even if you’re not yet advanced in the language.
La Bottega di Babbel
Designed for intermediate learners, Babbel’s La bottega di Babbel is an attempt to tackle the tough questions in Italian. What’s Ferragosto? When was pizza invented? How is Christmas celebrated in Italy? Host Gianluca attempts to answer these and more in conversations with native speakers and Italian learners.
Senza Rosetto (“Without Lipstick”) is a feminist Italian podcast, so it’s perfect for people who love all three of those things. It’s about the various kinds of issues women must navigate in the modern world (think: everything ranging from the wage gap to the successful expression of one’s needs and wants). The podcast was first launched on the 70th anniversary of the first political referendum that included women (June 2, 1946). The show has three seasons available, and they pack in a lot of history.
Another of Babbel’s advanced-level Italian podcasts, this show takes you through the oddities and wonders of the Italian language. La Linguacciuta host Ilenia Zodiaco promises to entertain you with untranslatable concepts, invented words and musings on personality as it’s communicated through language. There are 10 episodes available so far, so it’s easy to get through it all.
Hosted by a former Babbel content producer, Camposanto is a podcast that talks about the places a lot of us are trying to avoid: cemeteries. That may sound a little dark, but it tackles the topic in fascinating ways. It makes you think hard about these places where we place the dead, and the fascinating lives that preceded people’s arrival in their final resting places. And it does it all in Italian! This is a pretty advanced show for beginners, but a transcript for each episode can help guide you along.