It’s wonderful and incredible fulfilling my dream to live in Italy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not challenging at times and sometimes a little lonely. These four podcasts are particularly helpful to me when I’m feeling a bit down or homesick for good conversations with my friends. These podcasts in English and Italian discuss the difficulties of living life abroad, unpack the history and cultural significance behind the food eaten in Italy, address Italian feminist issues while showcasing bad-ass women, and delve into contemporary Italian history with a bit of music thrown in.
1. The Bittersweet Life (in English)
This is my absolute favourite podcast that I have been listening to for the past five years and I never get tired of. I could say that The Bittersweet Life gives an in-depth focus on issues that ex-pats aka immigrants face living life abroad, which is definitely does, but it does a lot more than that. Through interviews and discussions, co-host Katy Sewall and Tiffany Parks, show the rich creative fabric of being alive, the challenges and success, the self-doubt and fruition of trying to live a less off the beaten path. Katy is a radio producer based in San Francisco and Tiffany is a writer and author of Midnight in the Piazza. They’ve been friends since the 6th grade and it’s wonderful to listen to this podcast and listen to two friends have an interesting conversation. The Bittersweet Life has kept me company and given me comfort during these years living in London and in IschiaThe Bittersweet Life (in English)
Episode 219 – Abdicate – Interview with Jackie Jalley, a former lawyer who, in her 40s, decided to give up her career and move to Europe. She discusses she learned how to deal with things when they didn’t go as planned.
2. Gola (in English)
This is a new podcast that I’ve really gotten into. Rome-based food journalist Katie Parla and culinary historian Dr. Dannielle get together in each episode to discuss the role of food in Italian culture. While there a lots of food podcasts out there (which I really enjoy) this one has a really deep discussion about the cultural and historical background of topics such as coffee, garlic, anchovies, panettone and cocktails. The topics quickly meander into discussions about history, sociology and culinary culture and after each episode you come away with a deeper understanding of Italian culture.
Start with :
Properly Caffeinated: Listen about the role fascism played in the rise of coffee culture in Italy during the 20th century.
3. Morgana (in Italian)
This is a new podcast presented by Italian writer Michela Murgia and Chiara Tagliaferri. According to the podcast, a Morgana is a woman who is strong, difficult, strange, dangerous, witchlike, and not afraid to break some balls. Women that live for themselves and don’t give a shit about making you happy. Where a woman is killed every two days by her partner or ex and sexism plays a large part of everyday life for women, this is an exciting podcast aimed to empower women and show them examples of potential heroes. Each episode focuses on a cultural figure, both contemporary and historical, and discusses how she is an extraordinary Morgana.
You can listen to all the websites and watch a trailer for the podcast on the Morgana website.
Madonna and Saint Catherine of Sienna
4. Mix 24 – La Storia (in Italian)
This podcast stopped airing on 30 June 2017, but you can still listen to the last 28 episodes on ITunes as well as find all of the episodes on their website. If you live in Italy or love Italian culture, these are a perfect way to get a more understanding of recent history and you’ll come away with recognising more cultural references that come up in conversations (as well as strengthening your Italian). Particular fun episodes focus on a year, what was going on back then and the hit songs on Italian radio (both Italian and international songs. If you visited Italy in 2008, you could listen to the episode of that year and recognize the songs that were on the radio and learn a little bit more about what was actually going on Italy, politically and culturally, that you may not have picked up back then.
Musica and storia – 1998: Monika Lewinsky and Bill Clinton scandal, Fidel Castro and Pope John Paul II meet for the first time, the Italian government under Romano Prodi falls and the new government under Giovanni D’Alema is installed. Selected songs featured: Ray of Light – Madonna; My heart will go on – Celine Dion; Blu – Zucchero; Senza te o con te – Annalisa Minetti; Getting jiggy with it – Will Smith.
Luigi Tenco, mistero a San Remo: Mystery still surrounds Luigi Tenco, singer and songwriter of hits like Gloria and Ti Amo, and his suicide on 27 January 1967 at the Hotel Savoy di San Remo after his song was dropped out of the race at the San Remo Music Festival. This episode talks about the story and success of the Italian icon who died at only 29 years old.