Reading and watching tips to enhance your Italian

In this article we recommend you a TV show and a book that will help you progress on your learning journey

As you know very well, learning Italian doesn’t mean sitting long hours at your desk struggling to learn by heart a grammar book and a dictionary. In fact, you need to make your learning experience as real and relevant as possible, turning your hobbies into an opportunity to practice and improve your skills. What you also need to better understand a language is acquiring information about the country (or countries) where it is spoken – its culture – including its history, art in general, gastronomy, traditions… Yes, it’s a long journey, but it’s very rewarding, isn’t it? That’s why in this article we’re going to tell you something about a little town in Northern Italy and two contemporary cultural products related to it. At the end of the post, you will also find a short list of words and expressions you can use to talk about a book that you are reading, or a film or a TV series you are watching.

Curon – Netflix series (2020)

When Anna returns to Curon with her twins, she realizes that no one, not even her father, is happy with their presence. She left Curon 17 years before, shortly after her mother’s tragic death, when she was pregnant with her two children. Daria and Mauro, the twins, would like to come back to Milan, but Anna is in Curon because of a nightmare in which someone identical to her shoots her mother and then turns to point the gun at her. However, Anna disappears and the teenagers begin to search for her and uncover the secrets of this town…

Lake Resia
View of Lake Resia and Curon’s old tower bell

This is the beginning of the series so, if you haven’t watched it yet, don’t worry: we won’t give you any spoiler. Curon is a horror/mystery series centered on theme of duality, set and shot in Curon Venosta, near Bolzano. What you need to know to understand this Netflix show is the story of the old village of Curon. With the exception of the 14th-century Romanesque bell tower, this town and part of Resia, a nearby village, were blown up with explosives and dammed to produce hydro-electricity. Trentino Alto-Adige became an Italian region in 1919 and twenty years later, like today, the largest part of Curon’s population was German-speaking. Therefore, almost nobody could read the Italian notice describing the plans for the construction of the dam and the destruction of the village. Since there was no opposition, works started in 1940, generating the protests of the inhabitants, who realized what was happening. Despite their complaint and appeal to the Pope, in 1950, Curon was flooded by Lake Resia and rebuilt next to it. The legend says that in winter the bells of the ancient church can be heard ringing, even though they were removed 70 years before. The series drew inspiration from this legend and added that, if someone hears the bells ringing, they will be killed and replaced by their double emerging from the water.

For more tips about learning Italian with TV series have a look at our short guide

Resto qui – novel (2018)

Resto qui is a novel by Marco Balzano, writer and history teacher, delving deeper into the history of the village of Curon, the relationship between big historical events and common people’s lives, the connections between the Fascist and the Nazi regimes. Balzano visited Lake Resia, now a mere tourist attraction, and the questions he posed himself were ‘was it really worth it? is this progress?’ Many people lost their home and received no compensation for it, while Lake Resia and the bell tower have become an Instagram hotspot. He interviewed the few surviving witnesses to make the real story emerge, overcoming the distrust of those who believed he was a fascist spy, and the result is an intense novel in the form of a diary. The narrator is Trina, a young woman who wants to become a teacher and, when, in 1920, Mussolini abolishes the use of German as a teaching language, she starts working for a clandestine network of schools in the valley. 19 years later her life is again thrown into uncertainty when Germany announces the ‘South Tyrol Option Agreement’ and German-speaking communities are given the opportunity to move to Germany, escaping the repressive Italianization efforts of Mussolini’s regime. Trina and her family decide to stay…

For more reading advice, see Power up your Italian with comics, where we suggest a comic book for every language level

How to talk about books, TV shows, films

Read our glossary to learn some useful words to write a review

Would you like to write a film or a book review? Have a look at our short list of useful words and the examples below.

trama: plot

colpo di scena: plot twist

ambientazione: setting

personaggio: character

protagonista: protagonist

antagonista: antagonist

genere letterario / cinematografico: literary / film genre

sottogenere: subgenre

romanzo: novel

fumetti: comics

racconto: short story

favola: fable

fiaba: fairy-tale

pubblico: audience

capitolo: chapter

puntata, episodio: episode

puntata pilota: pilot

stagione: season

Curon è una serie TV italiana del 2020 in sette episodi. L’ambientazione è contemporanea e la trama è complessa e ricca di colpi di scena.

Resto qui è un romanzo scritto da Marco Balzano, ambientato a Curon, la cui protagonista si chiama Trina.

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