Netflix to open Italian base in Rome

Streaming giant Netflix has announced it will set up an office in Rome to help expand its range of original Italian content.

Netflix to open Italian base in Rome
The main Netflix headquarters in Los Angeles. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images North America/AFP

The US subscription video service will open its first Italian base within the next few months, the company told Variety magazine. 

The move “will allow us to strengthen our many creative partnerships and work on a growing offer of movies and series made in Italy”, said Netflix's vice president of international originals, Kelly Luegenbiehl.

The company already has around 30 people working on its Italian service, but they are currently based in Amsterdam.

READ ALSO: Six Italian series worth watching beyond My Brilliant Friend

Photo: Rai/HBO

The move follows reports that Italian prosecutors had opened an investigation into Netflix for suspected tax evasion, given that the service generates profits in Italy but has neither a headquarters nor employees here and pays its taxes elsewhere.

Since launching in Italy in 2015, Netflix is estimated to have attracted some 2 million subscribers by the end of 2019.

Its Italian originals include Suburra, an organized crime drama set in Rome's underworld, Baby, a teen melodrama inspired by a real-life underage prostitution scandal, On My Skin, a hard-hitting recreation of the final days of a young man who died in police custody, and The Ruthless, a mafia movie starring local A-lister Riccardo Scamarcio as a Milanese gangster.


Next up for release are Black Moon, a period series about women accused of witchcraft in 17th-century Italy that debuts this week, Fedeltà ('Fidelity'), the story of a young couple wracked by suspicion based on the bestselling novel by Marco Missiroli, Curon, a supernatural drama about a 'drowned' village in South Tyrol, and Zero, the fantasy tale of a young second-generation Italian with superpowers.

Netflix has said it plans to invest €200 million in Italian productions by the end of 2021, calling Italy “a cradle of great storytellers and amazing talent”.

But Italian regulators have proved wary of the streaming service, with the last government introducing a new law that requires all Italian-made films to be shown in cinemas before they become available online. 

The so-called “anti-Netflix” rule is designed to protect Italian cinemas by giving viewers a reason to leave their sofas. In practice, though, all it means is that original movies like The Ruthless are given a fleeting release in movie theatres (three days, in this case) before making their way to Netflix a couple of weeks later.


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Why Friday the 13th isn’t an unlucky date in Italy

Unlucky for some, but not for Italians. Here's why today's date isn't a cause for concern in Italy - but Friday the 17th is.

Why Friday the 13th isn't an unlucky date in Italy

When Friday the 13th rolls around, many of us from English-speaking countries might reconsider any risky plans. And it’s not exactly a popular date for weddings in much of the western world.

But if you’re in Italy, you don’t need to worry about it.

There’s no shortage of strongly-held superstitions in Italian culture, particularly in the south. But the idea of Friday the 13th being an inauspicious date is not among them.

Though the ‘unlucky 13’ concept is not unknown in Italy – likely thanks to the influence of American film and TV – here the number is in fact usually seen as good luck, if anything.

The number 17, however, is viewed with suspicion and Friday the 17th instead is seen as the unlucky date to beware of.

Just as some Western airlines avoid including the 13th row on planes, you might find number 17 omitted on Italian planes, street numbering, hotel floors, and so on – so even if you’re not the superstitious type, it’s handy to be aware of.

The reason for this is thought to be because in Roman numerals the number 17 (XVII) is an anagram of the Latin word VIXI, meaning ‘I have lived’: the use of the past tense apparently suggests death, and therefore bad luck. It’s less clear what’s so inauspicious about Friday.

So don’t be surprised if, next time Friday 17th rolls around, you notice some Italian shops and offices closed per scaramanzia’.

But why then does 13 often have a positive connotation in Italy instead?

You may not be too surprised to learn that it’s because of football.

Ever heard of Totocalcio? It’s a football pools betting system in which players long tried to predict the results of 13 different matches.

There were triumphant calls of ho fatto tredici! – ‘I’ve done thirteen’ – among those who got them all right. The popular expression soon became used in other contexts to mean ‘I hit the jackpot’ or ‘that was a stroke of luck!’

From 2004, the number of games included in Totocalcio rose to 14, but you may still hear winners shout ‘ho fatto tredici’ regardless.

Other common Italian superstitions include touching iron (not wood) for good luck, not toasting with water, and never pouring wine with your left hand.