Comedy movies are definitely a big part of Italian pop culture.
Our language and everyday conversations are full of references to some Italian comedy movies that everybody has watched at least once in their lives.
Those movies are a sort of shared knowledge and represent a strong foundation of our culture. Even if you haven’t watched one of those movies, they are so popular that is very likely that, as an Italian, you know what every movie is about and possibly use quotes and references in your everyday conversation.
Like all comedy movies, they are a bit difficult to understand for non-native speakers because the actors speak very fast and many jokes are usually based on facts and references that only Italians know well.
So they might not be a good material for your language practice but I wanted to share them because, as I said, they are a huge part of our culture and their role in portraying the Italian character and way of life is unparalleled. They are a perfect way to get to know us crazy Italians a bit better.
And this is exactly why I have decided to share this list of Italian comedy movies: they can be a great opportunity to better understand Italians and their character and also a way to get to know sayings and references that you may hear in conversation without understanding what they really mean.
The list of comedy movies in Italian is really endless so I had to make a selection based on my personal taste and what I feel is most referenced in the language. So many movies have been inevitably left out, like the older and most recent ones, which I do not know very well.
But let’s find out what these 10 Italian comedy movies I selected for you are (in no particular order).
1. Il ragazzo di campagna (1984)
Starring Renato Pozzetto, this movie tells the story of Artemio, a farmer who lives in a small village in the remote countryside in Lombardy. The village is mainly inhabited by old people, whose favorite pastime is sitting by the railroad and watch the train go by.
When he turns 40, Artemio decides that it is finally time to live his life and so he moves to Milan. There he has all sorts of adventures and misfortunes and he eventually decides to go back home to his simple life.
Iconic scene: Artemio rents a modern studio in Milan that has everything built-in, his saying “taaaac“ every time he opens a cabinet or appliance in his studio has become part of the language.
2. Non ci resta che piangere (1984)
This is another masterpiece among Italian comedy movies and definitely one of the most referenced too. Starring Roberto Benigni e Massimo Troisi, the movie tells the story of two friends who are at a railroad crossing and, after waiting for what seems forever for the train to pass, they decide to walk to the nearby village.
They find a hostel there and, without realizing it, the next day they wake up in 1492. This obviously leads to endless funny situations that have you in tears because you just cannot stop laughing.
Iconic scene: the two main characters are on a cart and are stopped at a checkpoint. The guards keep asking them “quanti siete? dove andate? un fiorino“, which is a common reference in the Italian language that might come up when somebody asks you lots of useless questions.
3. Bianco rosso e Verdone (1981)
It is really difficult to pick just one movie by Carlo Verdone because he has directed a long list of iconic movies that are part of pop culture. Bianco rosso e Verdone is a road movie with three different characters who are traveling to get back home to vote.
The characters are Furio, a nitpicking and very anxious man who has to plan everything in detail, Mimmo, a clumsy and shy guy who is traveling with his grandma, and Pasquale, an immigrant who lives in Germany. All three characters are played by Verdone himself who shows his talent in portraying quintessentially Italian characters.
Iconic scene: Furio and his wife Magda are getting ready to leave and Furio asks Magda if she has done everything she had to. Referring to Magda is very common when someone is being overly punctilious and annoying.
4. Fantozzi (1975)
Fantozzi’s movies are some of the most popular Italian comedy movies ever and they are literally packed with references and words that are now part of the Italian language – I bet some people use them without even knowing where they come from.
I have never been a fan of those movies because I have always found them too sad. In fact, they laugh at the life of Ugo Fantozzi, an incredibly unlucky Italian salaryman, who acts as a portrait of the customs and habits of Italy’s lower middle class.
Iconic scene: Fantozzi and his colleague Filini are playing tennis. This scene is a joke about people who want to use congiuntivo to show off yet miserably fail.
5. Vacanze di Natale (1983)
This movie represents the 80s in Italy at its very best and it is the first movie of what would become a genre called cinepanettone, referring to the fact that these movies would always come out at Christmas.
Vacanze di Natale tells the story of a group of people who go to Cortina d’Ampezzo for their Christmas holidays. Cortina is a very chic holiday destination and it is full of rich people but some of the characters are not rich at all, so there is a lot of irony coming from the interaction of these two worlds.
Iconic scene: Donato and his wife, a very rich couple from Milan, arrive at their hotel in Cortina. Donato underlines how fast they have arrived and says “Alboreto is nothing” (Alboreto was a famous F1 pilot back then), which is something we say if we want to joke at someone for driving very fast.
6. Johnny Stecchino (1991)
Starring Roberto Benigni, this movie tells the story of the terrible mafia boss Johnny Stecchino who has to live in hiding and finds by chance someone who looks exactly like him, except for a little mole under his eye.
With the help of his lover, the boss decides to bring his lookalike to Sicily so that he can be mistaken for the terrible boss everybody wants dead. Needless to say, this leads to lots of misunderstandings and funny situations.
Iconic scene: Dante, the boss’ lookalike, arrives in Palermo and speaks with a guy who tells him a bit about the city. A very famous quote from this scene is the guy saying that the biggest problem in Palermo is traffic.
7. Amici miei (1975)
This is another incredible masterpiece of Italian cinema starring some real stars like Ugo Tognazzi, Gastone Moschin, Philippe Noiret, Adolfo Celi, and Duilio del Prete. It is the first of a series of three movies with the same characters.
The movie tells the story of five friends from Florence who are in their 50s but who still enjoy having fun and playing lots of pranks to other people. It is a celebration of friendship and of living in a very easygoing way.
Iconic scene: Raffaello Mascetti interacts with a policeman speaking with him in an incomprehensible way. This way of speaking is called supercazzola, a word which we use to describe a speech full of complex sentences that basically doesn’t mean anything.
8. Il marchese del Grillo (1981)
Starring Alberto Sordi, another real star of Italian cinema who has played some iconic characters in his career, this movie is set in nineteenth-century Rome and tells the story of Onofrio del Grillo, a marquis who spends his days in complete idleness and enjoys playing pranks to everybody.
His dreams come true when he meets Gasperino, a poor man who looks exactly like him, giving him the chance of playing even more elaborate pranks.
Iconic scene: the marquis is among a crowd of poor people and is recognized by a guard who saves him. Before leaving, he says to the people: “scusate, ma io so’ io e voi non siete un cazzo” (sorry but I am who I am and you are nothing).
9. L’allenatore nel pallone (1984)
This is a cult movie for all soccer lovers because it follows the season of a soccer team and is full of very famous soccer players and sports journalists of the 80s.
Starring Lino Banfi, a famous comedian from Apulia with a peculiar accent, the movie tells the story of Oronzo Canà, a mediocre soccer trainer who dreams of working in Serie A, Italy’s main soccer league, before retiring. He finally has his chance and many fun things take place.
Iconic scene: being very superstitious, Oronzo Canà interacts with a player whose name is crisantemi (chrysanthemums are the flowers of the dead, here in Italy)
10. Tre uomini e una gamba (1997)
In the 90s and early 2000s, Aldo, Giovanni e Giacomo were undoubtedly some of the most famous comedians in Italy. Tre uomini e una gamba is probably their best movie and definitely their most successful one.
It tells the story of three old friends who, in a really hot summer, leave Milan to go to Apulia for the wedding of one of them. All sorts of incredible adventures take place during their trip towards the south, a trip that will definitely change their lives.
Iconic scene: Giovanni, one of the three friends, show off in front of some kids without realizing their father is around the corner. His “ma vieni!” is used when you succeed at doing something particularly difficult.
Let me know in the comments below if you watched some of these movies and what you think of them!
If you are looking for interesting ways to practice your Italian daily, I’d suggest you check my brand-new program called Giorno dopo giorno, a daily Italian practice.
If you sign up to Giorno dopo giorno, you will receive an email every other day for 365 days. Each email will contain a prompt, a little exercise, something to watch, read, listen or something that will gently force you to practice your Italian every day, making it part of your daily routine.