The 19 Best Documentaries about Italy

Jul 26, 2023 | Best Of, History

Taste the authentic flavors of Italy and explore its rich cultural heritage with Andrew and Giorgio in one of the world’s oldest countries. From Bologna to Parma, they uncover a variety of incredible sites steeped in history – from the world’s oldest university to breathtaking frescoes painted by Correggio. Along their journey, learn about Emilia-Romagna’s convivial environment, witness fisherman casting massive nets near the Po’s mouth, discover why Modena is home to balsamic vinegar and Ferrari cars, and find out what ingredients were featured in Italy’s first cookbook after unification.


1. Dream of Italy (2015)

Discover the allure of Italy, a country steeped in history and bursting with cultural gems. Let Kathy McCabe, renowned Italian travel expert and editor of Dream of Italy newsletter, be your guide as we delve into the enchanting landscapes and vibrant communities scattered throughout this beloved destination.




2. My Italy (2017)

In this captivating documentary by Bruno Colella, we are taken on a journey across Europe as a director and his assistant search for funding to create a film centered around four talented artists: Krzysztof Bednarski from Poland, Thorsten Kirchhoff from Denmark, Mark Kostabi representing America, and H.H. Lim hailing from Malaysia. As we delve into the lives of these international art icons, we are met with humor and eccentricity as their love for Italy shines through.





3. Hidden Italy (2023)

Experience the beauty of Italy like never before. Explore serene coastal towns in Liguria and enchanting countryside retreats near Caprarola. Immerse yourself in the rich history of Anagni and marvel at the vibrant flower gardens of Trieste. As the sun sets over Sicily’s golden limestone villages, uncover hidden treasures such as Renaissance frescoes tucked away in stunning cathedrals.



4. Venice – The Whole Story (2015)

Discover the gripping tale of Venice – a city that rose to unparalleled heights as a flourishing maritime republic, only to be plagued by the looming threat of sinking into oblivion. Experience the race against time through the lens of fashion icon Renzo Rosso (Diesel) as he leads a multi-million euro renovation project on the iconic Rialto Bridge.




5. Italy’s Mystery Mountains (2014)

Italy is often synonymous with rich culture, exquisite cuisine, and a luxurious lifestyle. But beyond its glossy exterior lies a land shaped by nature’s forces. The fiery volcanoes that paint the skyline with ash and the ever-shifting tectonic plates beneath our feet have molded this country into what it is today.







The Best Free Documentaries about Italy


1. History of Italy

From the Bronze Age to modern times, Italy has a rich and fascinating history. Follow us on an exploration of Italian culture from ancient Phoenicians, Greeks, Etruscans, Illyrians (Messapians), Celts and more! Learn how Rome rose to power as a Kingdom in 753 BC and became a Republic in 509 BC when the monarchy was overthrown. Discover how the Roman Republic unified Italy at the expense of other Italic peoples. Explore Northern Africa and Near East under Roman rule. This documentary will leave you with an understanding of why Italy is so beloved today!


2. Italy Unpacked: The Art Of The Feast

Join Andrew Graham-Dixon and Giorgio Locatelli in their exploration of Italy’s history, culture, food, art, and scenery. Their journey begins in Bologna – the capital of Emilia-Romagna known as la Dotta (the Learned), la Grassa (the Fat) and la Rossa (the Red). Discover the region’s convivial atmosphere and how it has influenced Italian cuisine. Then explore Ferrara to learn more about the d’Este dynasty before heading to Modena – home of balsamic vinegar and Ferrari! Finally marvel at Correggio’s fresco in Parma Cathedral while admiring an authentic copy of newly unified Italy’s first cookbook from Palatina Library. Come along with us on this adventure through Italy!


3. Slaves in Italy?

This documentary explores the hidden and often forgotten life of foreign farm labourers in Italy’s southern regions. It shines a light on the living conditions these workers face, with many NGOs classifying their situations as modern-day slavery. We also look at how mafia organizations have authority over this area, and how gangmasters are responsible for recruiting seasonal employees to work in the farms. This film brings awareness to a situation that is rarely discussed or acknowledged, helping us understand what it truly means to be an agricultural worker in Southern Italy today.


4. Capri and the Amalfi Coast

Are you planning a vacation to Southern Italy? There are some amazing places to explore, like Capri and the Amalfi Coast. But with so many beautiful choices, it can be difficult to decide where to go first. In this documentary we take a look at two of the top destinations in the region – Capri Island and Positano & Amalfi on the mainland. We’ll discuss what makes each destination unique and help you decide which one is best for your travel style, budget and group size!


5. Wild Italy – From The Alps to Tuscany

Come explore Italy with us! From the snow-covered Dolomites to the turquoise blue of the Mediterranean, you will be amazed by this spectacular landscape. In winter, ice and snow rule over the Dolomites for months on end – but animals like Ibex are able to survive in these high mountains due to their special skills. When it comes time to descend, they risk falling into deep snow piles if they aren’t careful. Join us as we experience all that Italy has to offer while learning about its wildlife and landscapes.


6. Italy Tackles Rural Exodus

Italy has many beautiful rural areas, but the exodus of people from these small towns and villages is becoming a major issue. With inadequate infrastructure and limited employment opportunities, thousands of sites could become ghost towns in future years. But with the Coronavirus epidemic causing stricter lockdowns, one family decided to move away from Naples to Teora in Campania. In this documentary we follow their journey and explore how the pandemic has affected Italy’s rural exodus.


7. Venice, Island Treasure Documentary

Discover the hidden gems of Venice and its rich culture with this documentary video by Pierre Brouwers. Explore the canals, gondolas and palaces while getting to know the locals in their own unique environment. Poveglia is a tiny island situated between Venice and Lido in northern Italy, divided into two halves by a short waterway. Experience an authentic Venetian lifestyle as you uncover secrets that even many natives don’t know about! This truly captivating journey through “La Serenissima” will leave you mesmerized.


8. The Vacation: Documentary about Italy, Food, and Travel

Are you dreaming of an unforgettable vacation but are hesitating due to the pandemic? Look no further! This travel documentary about Italy will help you make your staycation a lot more enjoyable and safe. Witness beautiful visuals of the US National Parks, mesmerizing cuisines from distant lands, and extraordinary feats of human courage. Feed your wanderlust with this amazing journey through Italy’s food and travel – all from the comfort of your home.


9. Overview: The Italian City States

Have you ever heard of the Italian City-States? These powerful cities were a major part of Italy’s history from the Middle Ages to the establishment of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. This video explores their origins and rise to power, including how they became trade metropoles capable of gaining independence from their official sovereigns. We also discuss Rome’s republican institutions that were preserved throughout this period, as well as some feudal lords who ruled over large parts of the country. Learn all about these incredible city-states and their role in Italian history!


10. Hunting Down the Mafia in Italy

This documentary takes an in-depth look at the ‘Ndrangheta, one of Italy’s most powerful and dangerous Mafia-style organized crime syndicates. With roots dating back to the late 1800s, this organization has spread around the world as a result of widespread emigration from Calabria in the 1950s. Discover their fascinating rituals and ceremonies that have been kept alive for generations, passed down orally and through codes that are rarely broken. This is an incredible story about hunting down the mafia in Italy!


11. Traveling to Southern Italy: The Heel of the Boot

Take a journey with Anthony Bourdain to Southern Italy, the Heel of the Boot. Explore untouched landscapes and meet colourful locals as you discover little-known areas of this diverse culture. Enjoy food and dining rituals while learning about what makes this part of Italy so unique. Join us on Parts Unknown for an unforgettable tour!


11. From Mount Etna to Palermo: Exploring Sicily, Ital

Explore Sicily, Italy’s largest island with journalist Sineb El Masrar! From the active volcano Mount Etna to Palermo, a hub for marine rescue efforts, there is so much to discover. Visit organic farmers and citrus producers while learning about unique Sicilian traditions like puppetry from the Fratelli Napoli family. Meet Chiara Utro from the anti-mafia movement “Addiopizzo” and Mayor Leoluca Orlando who helps people rescuing refugees at sea.


12. The Origins Of Mussolini’s Italy : Secrets Of War

Uncover the mysteries of Fascist Italy! This documentary reveals how Mussolini rose to power and the unknown stories of those who protected him. Learn about the complicated Axis relationship between Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, as well as other secrets of war. Get an inside look at fascism in this eye-opening experience!


13. Piedmont: Secrets of The Italian Alps

To the Italian Alps, exploring Piedmont’s hidden gems! We’ll go trekking in search of white truffles and stop at the Cascina Bruciata winery for some wine tasting. Then we’ll head over to Lago delle Sorgenti for a relaxing dip before visiting Lake Iseo to see how excellent Italian boats are made. Finally, we’re off to the World Truffle Auction where you can witness firsthand the world of luxury truffle trading!


14. Milan and Lake Como

Experience the best of Italy with this travel guide to Milan and Lake Como! Learn about the country’s fashion, delis, cemeteries, opera houses and more. Plus explore beautiful Varenna – classic honeymoon country where Italy meets the Alps. See Leonardo’s Last Supper in Milan then cruise along Lake Como for an unforgettable trip.

Read On – Our Latest Top Documentaries Lists

David B