21 Great Italian Podcasts of 2023 Every Italian Learner Should Listen To
You can easily make learning Italian a daily habit, without spending a dime or adding any detours to your routine.
If you enjoy washing the dishes to NPR’s “Science Friday,” you might swap that podcast out for a science lesson in Italian. You could also explore the worlds of cooking, history, technology and even American politics in Italian-language podcasts.
I’ve got 21 great Italian podcasts to share with you here, as well as strategies for integrating them into your overall learning plan.
- 21 Great Italian Podcasts of 2023
- 1. Italy Made Easy
- 2. Coffee Break Italian
- 3. News in Slow Italian
- 4. Learn Italian in Your Car
- 5. Italiano automatico
- 6. ItalianPod101
- 7. Vaporetto Italiano
- 8. L’italiano vero
- 9. Quattro Stagioni
- 10. Veleno
- 11. I Provinciali
- 12. Italiane con la valigia
- 13. Caterpillar
- 14. Alle Otto della Sera
- 15. Il Ruggito del Coniglio
- 16. Scientificast
- 17. Digitalia
- 18. 2024
- 19. Fisicast
- 20. America 24
- 21. Mix 24 La Storia
- The Advantages of Harnessing Italian Podcasts for Learning
- Strategies for Using Authentic Podcasts to Learn Italian
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21 Great Italian Podcasts of 2023
1. Italy Made Easy
This podcast is created for learners of the Italian language. Episodes are presented by the enthusiastic host, Manu, completely in Italian. Manu speaks the standard dialect in a slow, understandable way.
Each episode is approximately 10 to 20 minutes long and focused on light topics such as travel, school and everyday life. The podcasts come with Italian transcripts in Italian, translations of selected words and comprehension exercises, though these materials are for paying members only.
Italy Made Easy also has a YouTube channel aimed at teaching the Italian language through more traditional lesson-style videos. Some videos are in dual English and Italian, making them more accessible to very new Italian learners. Manu also hosts livestream lessons pretty regularly where he teaches and interacts with participants.
2. Coffee Break Italian
This podcast is presented by the trio of Mark, Francesca and Katie. Mark, the lead teacher, is an English speaker who’s also fluent in Italian. As someone who was once in your shoes, he can really offer an honest peek into the process of learning the language.
Francesca, a native Italian speaker, is also a language educator. She brings cultural info and an insider’s perspective to the discussions. Katie is the “fresh off the boat” learner who probes the others with queries that make each episode robust with relevant content.
Episodes run about 20 minutes. Because the hosts have amazing chemistry, the podcast feels like a couple of friends sitting in a coffee shop, having a casual chat. Conversations are smooth, and you’ll easily learn Italian greetings, numbers, basic travel phrases and more.
Coffee Break Italian was named one of the “smartest podcasts” of 2017 by the British Podcast Awards, so you’re in good hands with this one.
3. News in Slow Italian
If you want to learn to speak Italian like a native, grab some idioms or regional phrases and hear what’s really going on in The Boot, this is the podcast for you.
The episodes are discussions of global news headlines covering politics, science, art, culture and much more. Learning about global issues from the Italian perspective brings Italy home to learners in an immersive way.
News in Slow Italian gives learners so much more than listening practice. Podcasts have Italian transcripts with interactive translation of both common and more difficult vocabulary. Just hover the cursor over a word highlighted in red, and the English translation appears—perfect for Italian learners.
4. Learn Italian in Your Car
Learn Italian in Your Car explicitly states that it’ll teach you the language without the use of textbooks or printed materials. It also gets directly to the point by giving you only the English words and their Italian translations, right off the bat.
This no-nonsense approach is a simple way to quickly build your Italian vocabulary. Lessons are arranged thematically, so you’ll have episodes related to directions, numbers, hotels, restaurants, questions and more.
And don’t be misled by the title: You can absolutely listen to this anywhere at anytime! Learn before going to bed or while waiting for the elevator to open. It’s best to find a private spot where you can talk to yourself, though, as this is a speak-along-and-speak-aloud kind of learning experience.
5. Italiano automatico
Italiano automatico (automatic Italian) is a podcast aimed at beginner and intermediate learners of the language. The catch? Well, it’s completely in Italian!
That may seem daunting to beginners, but the theory is simple: Italian immersion is the best way to learn the language. So the host, Alberto, speaks only Italian and does so in a slow, clear manner so listeners can hear each word and parse the sentences correctly.
This is extremely beneficial for tuning your ear to the Italian language even if you don’t understand every word being spoken. Better yet, each episode comes with a downloadable PDF file complete with an Italian transcription and select translations.
Best of all, Italiano automatico also has a YouTube channel where you can watch authentic videos in slow Italian. You can also find a number of Italian learning courses available on their website.
The heart and soul of each ItalianPod101 episode is a short, pre-recorded dialogue, which then become the springboard for the whole episode. You might hear an exchange between two people talking about their jobs or their families, or other practical, everyday situations.
The hosts guide you through each lesson, repeating lines so you can follow along, pointing out key words or phrases, explaining helpful grammar points and sharing their personal and cultural take.
ItalianPod101 turns all the audio into written text as well. You can download a copy of the dialogue, a transcript of each episode and even printable grammar lessons that explain the nuances in the dialogues. See our full review of ItalianPod101 here.
7. Vaporetto Italiano
Episodes of Vaporetto Italiano are designed for language learning with immersive content. They aim to help learners gain fluency and power up their language skills. Plus, they’re engaging and enjoyable to listen to, and hardly feel like study at all!
There are a number of cultural topics to choose from, like celebrating holidays in Italy or engaging in social activities. They cover a multitude of grammar as well, so if you’re looking to get a bit of extra grammar into your Italian language learning, this is a good option.
Additionally, there are some story podcasts in Italian. They’re brief and fit right into a hectic schedule, as well as being both entertaining and interesting!
8. L’italiano vero
This is a nice, chatty podcast, the kind of conversational show where hosts and guests act like old, dear friends—in true Italian style! In fact, that’s what the name of the podcast means: “The true Italian!”
The show covers a ton of topics that range from shopping, to world events, to traveling. You name it, they probably have an episode about it. Further, the cultural references enrich the content and provide extra enjoyment to the listening experience.
Beyond feeling like you’re listening to a friend, the podcast has variable lengths of stories. Some are long but others are quite brief, so whether you’ve got a full hour or only twenty minutes to spare, there’s something that’ll fit your schedule.
9. Quattro Stagioni
Quattro Stagioni (Four Seasons) really does feel like the change of seasons, with something for everyone to enjoy. Sometimes podcasts can be intimidating for beginning learners, with complex vocabulary or rapid speakers—not so with this show!
These podcast episodes are short, under 10 minutes each, covering mini stories about cultural, everyday topics in a smooth, easy-to-follow format. And they’re ideal for beginners.
Vocabulary is conversational but pretty basic. The topics are charming and there’s no rapid-fire speaking. Hear about how to choose a wardrobe, the beauty of Venice, holiday celebrations in Italy and much, much more.
High on the list of must-listen-to podcasts is Veleno—a real-life crime story set in Italy. No scripts or actors are used. This is pure first-person-account interviews of what happened, and the fallout after.
Twenty years ago, more than a dozen children were taken from their families amidst a scandal that included satanic worship and criminal acts. The children never saw their parents again.
This podcast is seven episodes long, and tells the true story in chilling detail. There are both Italian and English transcripts of each episode so learners can read along.
11. I Provinciali
This podcast (“The Provincials,” in English) was produced in Rome but its subject was the Italian provinces; if you’d love to travel throughout small-town Italy, this is the show for you.
I Provinciali revels in local oddities and traditions, and Italian regions have these in spades. Subjects include dialects, food, news, festivals, parties and tourist sites both on and off the beaten path. Guests and listeners from across Italy chime in with their suggestions and information.
The hosts’ goal was to provide an audio portrait of Italy as a whole that goes beyond the typical “Rome-Milan axis.” While the show ended its run in May 2018, there’s still plenty of information to gain from listening.
12. Italiane con la valigia
There’s no shortage of Italians trying to make it in other countries, and Italiane con la valigia (“Italians with a Suitcase”) gives them a chance to share their experiences. In this podcast, you’ll hear stories of Italian expats around the world.
Debora, Laura and Maddalena are three friends aiming to bring inspiration and motivation to others. They conduct their expat interviews online with Italians in all corners of the globe, but the conversations are so honest and intimate that they feel like they’re happening face-to-face, on your own couch.
There’s a wide variety of content, depending on who’s being interviewed. You’ve got Italian students, artists, businessmen and couples making an impact in other parts of the world. So if you love travel content and want to indulge your love for Italian at the same time, this podcast will hit the spot.
From Italy’s Radio 2, Caterpillar is a great answer for anyone looking to replace their drive-time “morning zoo” radio programming with something similar that’ll improve their Italian.
This show is actually an afternoon radio chat program, so it’s not quite as brash and obnoxious as morning zoo. The hosts Massimo Cirri and Sara Zambotti discuss news and social trends in bite-sized chunks and without too much depth.
The hosts endeavor to provide insight and humor, and they chat with callers from around Italy, so you’ll get exposure to a variety of Italian accents. You might not get a lot of new information, but you will get an overview of what’s going on in the world and what Italian people think about it.
14. Alle Otto della Sera
This sober, intellectual radio program is from RAI Radio 2, Italy’s public broadcaster. The program name translates as “At Eight in the Evening,” and the show has been running for more than a decade.
In podcast form, the radio program is broken down into different podcasts by subject. It covers topics in the arts, sciences and, in particular, history. You can search your podcast app for Alle Otto della Sera to see the range of options.
I’d recommend the section “La Storia in Cucina” (Cooking History), since many of us who study Italian are probably following our stomachs. It starts with the basic scientific reasons for cooking, continues to Italian cooking history and leads up to an episode on globalization and the movement to return to local foods.
15. Il Ruggito del Coniglio
Now here’s an actual morning drive-time radio show. Again from Italy’s Radio 2, this podcast, which translates as “The Roar of the Rabbit,” is produced daily and can be downloaded in podcast form.
Antonello Dose, Marco Presta and others provide their humorous take on the day’s news and trending topics. They often veer off into their own opinions and stories that are only tangentially related to the topic at hand.
Some segments, particularly the satirical songs, require a knowledge of Italian pop culture, which you may enjoy reviewing with an Italian language exchange partner. You might find it frustrating when guests talk over each other, but Italians do tend to shout over each other, so this podcast is great authentic listening practice!
This long-running podcast takes on hot topics in politics that touch the science world, as well as fascinating subjects that don’t make the headlines.
Scientificast covers anything from neutron telescopes to homosexuality in animals. Though it can get a bit in the weeds sometimes (do I really need to know the exact energy produced by various forms of wave power generators?), the science is generally at a level appropriate for the non-scientist.
Personally, I find the background music a bit annoying, but I’m willing to stick with this podcast anyway because there’s a lot of great information on intriguing subjects. The hosts speak pretty slowly, too, so it’s not difficult for Italian learners to follow.
If Elon Musk is your cup of tea and you’re into the latest gadgets and tech news, then you’ll find kindred spirits in this podcast. Digitalia is for (you guessed it!) anything digital.
But don’t feel left out if you’re not a serious techie. Hosts Franco Solerio, Max De Santo, Michele Di Maio and Giulio Cupini are usually able to bring the discussions back to earth and make the news relatable and relevant.
Digitalia is an entertaining and informative Italian podcast—that’s why native speakers can’t get enough of their weekly episodes. Learners with intermediate or advanced Italian levels will have their comprehension both tested and honed here, with the chance to learn many tech-related Italian words.
Produced by Radio 24, this weekly podcast on technology has an emphasis on what’s going on now in the Italian and international tech worlds, and what’s expected in the near future.
The roundup of tech news offers some depth on trends in the sector, new products and gossip about who’s being sued by whom or which startups have just been bought out.
Major recurring themes are consumer technologies and video games, but many other areas are covered: computer translations, wireless payments, financial software, chip development, etc.
Predictably, the Italian is fast and enthusiastic, so you may want to use your podcast player to slow it down to a more manageable speed.
This podcast takes on physics in a broad sense. You may have to use the back button, or pause and look up words to due the scientific nature of the show, but overall, it’s a very approachable level for total non-scientists.
Topics are often relevant to regular humans, including microwave ovens, light and X-rays. But even with more esoteric subjects like Brownian motion, elementary particles or the Big Bang, the hosts keeps things relatable to daily experiences as much as possible.
Unlike many of the other podcasts presented in this post, Fisicast is more tightly scripted. The advantage is that listeners get carefully researched information presented in an organized fashion. The downside is the lack of repetition, which happens naturally in conversations and helps Italian learners catch things they may have missed the first time it came up.
There are no new episodes being produced, but with more than four years of content, you’re sure to find plenty to learn here.
20. America 24
A couple of years ago, I decided that my only source of American news would be America 24 with Mario Platero. I didn’t entirely stuck to this, but when I did, this podcast gave me a decent summary of what was going on in America.
America 24, which ran until 2017, offered a daily five-to-10-minute look at the major themes of American news. It gave a quick run-down of the news of the day, but spent most of its time focusing on one particular issue. Thus, for a short format, it still offered good insight and depth.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but for Italian learners who like politics, I really recommend using a podcast like this rather than an Italian podcast about Italian politics, if possible. You’re more likely to understand the parties, “characters” and background involved in your country’s political scene, which will make it easier to follow along in Italian.
21. Mix 24 La Storia
From Italy’s Radio 24, this history podcast was part of a larger radio program called Mix 24. Although this podcast no longer updates, it’s still an excellent resource for learners who are looking for more authentic Italian learning materials.
In this history podcast, a historical figure or moment gets a 20- to 25-minute treatment from a modern Italian perspective. It includes interviews with historians and sometimes primary sources.
Host Giovanni Minoli’s stated goal is to relate history to the present moment, to help us better understand where we are now. And if you enjoy the show, Minoli also ran the parent program, which provides more in-depth discussion of items in the news or trends in the culture.
The Advantages of Harnessing Italian Podcasts for Learning
Listening is an important part of learning Italian, and practicing with native Italian speech (even in learner’s podcasts) can help you to acquire this skill faster.
Here are some of the advantages of using Italian podcasts as part of your overall language learning plan:
- Listen to Italian as it’s actually used: Dialogues in Italian textbooks are great and certainly should be part of your Italian education. But authentic Italian podcasts will provide you with exposure to a range of accents and to the slang and informal expressions that you’ll hear when in Italy and trying to use the language.
- Improve your motivation to learn: Listening to fun or enlightening podcasts can give you an incentive to understand more so that you can appreciate the knowledge and/or humor in the material. These Italian podcasts can do more than help you practice the language—they can add something useful to your life.
- Retain and use accurate vocabulary: It’s one thing to memorize the dictionary definition of a new word. Hearing it used over and over will teach you to use it properly in context. Italian podcasts will give you an idea of how Italians use their words, so that you can do likewise.
Strategies for Using Authentic Podcasts to Learn Italian
Use a good podcast player for learners
I’ve used a number of podcast apps over the years, and the best one that I’ve found for language learners is Pocket Casts.
It allows you to slow down audio playback and easily skip back 10 seconds to re-listen to a phrase when necessary. It’s available for Android, iOS and any web browser, and it automatically syncs between such devices.
Find podcasts that genuinely interest you
The podcasting world in English is vast and growing, especially in the last few years. This is much less true in the Italian podcasting world.
That said, there is a mini-universe of Italian podcasts (particularly radio programming that’s released as podcasts), so you can likely find series that match just about any interest.
In this post, I endeavored to cover a range of podcast topics in the hopes that there will be at least one or two for everyone. To search for more on your own, check out the iTunes podcast directory in Italian or RaiPlay Sound, a state-owned media company which is the largest broadcaster in Italy.
Pay attention and listen for understanding
Some people think that they can “soak up” Italian just by having it on in the background, without understanding anything. This may attune your ears to the sounds of the language, but that’s about it.
Additionally: There’s no such thing as “multitasking.”
Study after study has confirmed that, contrary to previous belief, our brains are not actually very efficient at doing two things at the same time. What we usually think of as “multitasking” is actually really rapid “task switching,” which means we’re not really as good at each individual task as we could be if we focused on one at a time.
Even if you’re not yet at a level where you can understand a full Italian podcast, you’re better off listening to just 30 seconds of dialogue and actively listening for something.
Make a list of words that you recognize. Try to get an idea of the context. As much as possible, try to be in an environment where distractions are at a minimum and you can focus on listening.
Employ other language skills while listening
Don’t be afraid to pause your podcast to look up words or phrases, skip back and re-listen or write down things you don’t understand.
In fact, physically writing enhances memory and retention. So, when listening to Italian podcasts, you should also be taking plenty of notes, which you can review with a tutor or language exchange partner later for deeper understanding.
Similarly, make an effort to speak aloud when you listen to Italian podcasts. If the host says, “Repeat after me…,” do it! If you’re listening to a native-speaking Italian podcast, practice language shadowing.
The best way to learn how to speak Italian is by speaking Italian, after all. You’ll be more engaged with the content of the podcast, too!
Use what you heard in other areas of your life
A classic learning strategy is to take a list of vocabulary or structures that you’ve just learned and try to write a short text using them. In this case, you might write responses to the podcast episodes you listen to.
You can then correct your writing with a native Italian speaker or on HiNative, a free site for exchanging language corrections and questions.
Or, you can search for new vocabulary on FluentU to get additional context for when to use unfamiliar words. The FluentU program has a large library of authentic Italian content like movie trailers, TV show clips, music videos, news segments, vlogs and more. When you search for a word or phrase, you can see all the videos that use that word.
Videos have accurate subtitles with on-demand definitions—and they’re all contextual. This means you can see a specific meaning of a word as used in different situations.
Besides these videos, the FluentU website and the iOS and Android apps also have interactive transcripts, custom flashcard decks, key word lists and personalized quizzes to help you retain new vocabulary.
And no need to stop there! Many Italian podcasts encourage you to interact with them via email or Twitter; listen for the handle at the end of episodes, following the word chiocciola (the @ symbol, and also meaning “snail”—cute, huh?). Tell the hosts your thoughts about their work in Italian!
Listen repeatedly and return to podcast episodes
Don’t think of podcast episodes as one-time events.
Instead, think of them like those “Friends” or “Seinfeld” episodes that you repeat over and over again. You’ve seen them so many times that you can mouth every line and cue in the laugh track.
Repetition is the mother of all learning. You can’t go through an episode or series once and expect to have Italian down pat; you’re going to have to go around the block a few times.
The first few times, you might just listen to the whole episode without taking notes or repeating after the host. Just listen and give it your full, undivided attention. Then you can slowly build on things and actively learn the information by taking down copious notes and animatedly repeating after your teacher.
Don’t forget to return to those episodes after a few weeks or months, too. It’s a great way to track your progress. You’ll probably be impressed with how much you can understand with just one listen the second time around!
Use these Italian podcasts as a starting point. Find some you enjoy, and see if they can lead you in the direction of other Italian podcasts you’ll like.
Regardless, you’ve already got more audio available than any one Italian learner could ever listen to—and all the more reason to keep learning this fantastic language!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)