Here’s all the Italian culture you can enjoy at home for free

If you're missing Italian art, cinema and other forms of culture as the country remains on lockdown, here's a complete list of the cultural offerings we can enjoy from home - without paying a single euro.

Here's all the Italian culture you can enjoy at home for free
A film being projected onto the side of a building in Rome on Thursday March 19th. Photo: AFP

Under lockdown, it's clearer than ever that the culture we consume on a daily basis is a vital part of our lives. What we listen to, read, watch, and create in these confined times is the mental food that keeps us joyful.

One can only refresh the news headlines and worry for so long; soon you have to find other ways to entertain yourself.

Luckily for us, Italy’s cultural institutions have been generous with the public, providing a multitude of offers and initiatives under the hashtag #laculturanonsiferma (culture can’t be stopped), launched to encourage residents to stay home and aid the efforts to counter the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Here we’ve gathered together some of the best offers being run in Italy to enjoy online during your quarantine.


One of the most exciting offers during this period of quarantine has to be the generosity of Condé Nast Italia. With a special code you can download digital versions of all Condé Nast Italia publications for the next three months, as well as access the entire Vogue Italia archives free of charge. The titles include everything from Italian GQ to a cooking course.

Speaking of digital editions, if you’ve got an e-reader or kindle, buckle up as you’ve got a whole new world of possibilities. Many Italian publishing houses including Adelphi are offering free ebooks in exchange for signing up to their newsletters. Mondadori is also giving three months complimentary access to its magazines, including titles such as Grazia, Icon Design, and Focus Junior, to those in the worst-hit red zones. 

Photo: Aliis Sinisalu/Unsplash

If you ask nicely, Bertoni Editore will give you a free ebook and il Saggiatore  are offering a new downloadable e-book every two days for the duration of the quarantine.

It’s also worth checking what your local library is doing to counter the lockdown as libraries in Milan and Bologna have opened up their online databases filled with free ebooks and publications for all to read.


When you grow tired of Netflix and daytime TV, why not mix up your cinema evenings by perusing the archives of Milan’s Cineteca? Just by registering with an email you can now access the hundreds of classic Italian films for free via their website. 

If you’d prefer an edited selection, why not explore the more recent films which have been specially released by the Ischia film festival on their site.

There’s also a special selection of curated short films available to view via Corti in Quarantine .

Photo: Rhett Noonan/Unsplash

If you’d rather try and immerse yourself in some ‘live’ performances, the Rossini Opera Festival is streaming  recordings of past productions on its website.

Many theatres around the country have followed suit, including the Teatro Stabile which has launched A season on the sofa” and Venice’s Teatro Fenice which is steadily curating content on its Youtube channel of clips from past productions as well as behind-the-scenes footage.


Several art galleries are running free online commentaries by art experts and curators on their cancelled and postponed exhibitions.

La Triennale in Milan have even drawn inspiration from Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron, in which those who escaped the plague in Florence in 1348 told stories to pass the time. Their digital version sees a different creative invited to share a personal story every day at 5pm.

You’ll also find a wealth of readings online by celebrities including actor Lino Guanciale who is taking it upon himself to read Italo Calvino’s The Baron in the Trees in instalments throughout quarantine under the hashtag #ioleggoacasa (I read at home) on social media. 

Many Italian musicians, from Gianna Nannini to Fedez, have taken it upon themselves to present live concerts to fans via their social media. Following the hashtag #IoSuonoDaCasa (I sing at home) uncovers its own kind of treasure trove. 

Also if you’ve been listening to your neighbours singing Italian classics at 6pm remember we'e got the offical list of top balcony hits here on The Local, and it's certainly worth studying up on.

(Virtually) Visit

You can find a comprehensive list of all the museums in Italy taking part in a variety of dynamic ways to keep their (virtual) doors open via the website of the Italian Ministry of culture and tourism (MiBACT).

A few favourite initiatives to note are the #PoldiPezzoliStories in which the museum director talks us through selected works of art via a series of Instagram videos and lives, and Bologna’s Museum of Modern Art (MAMbo) who have launched a series called 2 minutes of Mambo” in which a video a day is released on their channels from Tuesday to Sunday from a different creative figure.

Virtual tours are also available for numerous institutions, ranging from the Uffizi gallery in Florence to Venice’s Palazzo Ducale.

There’s also a huge selection of images and online exhibitions available for free thanks to Google Arts where most Italian museums and galleries have rich and immersive profiles to explore.

And in English…

There’s already a movement in the English-speaking world for similar initiatives, and no doubt as the situation develops in other countries more online cultural resources will appear worldwide.

READ ALSO: Fundraisers and singalongs: How Italians are rallying together amid the coronavirus crisis

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La Bella Vita: Pasta, coffee, and the signs you’re becoming Italian

From how your eating habits become more Italian (without you even realising it) to the best ways to prepare and drink coffee, our new weekly newsletter La Bella Vita offers you an essential starting point for eating, talking, drinking and living like an Italian.

La Bella Vita: Pasta, coffee, and the signs you're becoming Italian

La Bella Vita is our regular look at the real culture of Italy – from language to cuisine, manners to art. This new newsletter will be published weekly and you can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to newsletter preferences in ‘My Account’ or follow the instructions in the newsletter box below.

The longer you spend in Italy, the more you might find yourself adapting to Italian culture in ways you didn’t expect. For Brits like me, that might mean swapping your tea with milk for black espresso. For Americans it could be that your tastebuds have slowly become less accustomed to spicy foods (good tacos are, sadly, hard to find in Italy). And you’ve heard all about the tomatoes, but are you eating more lentils yet?

Once you find yourself eating pasta on an almost daily basis and reacting to the idea of fast food with a heartfelt ‘che schifo!’ you’ll know there’s really no going back. These are just some of the eating and drinking habits you might see change over time:

17 ways your eating and drinking habits change when you live in Italy

With all that pasta in mind, if you want to make sure your favourite recipe is executed in truly flawless Italian style we’ve got some expert advice on nailing the technique for saucing all of your pasta dishes correctly every time – and there’s more to it than you might expect.

Ask an Italian: How do you sauce pasta properly?

And then there’s the coffee. Whether you prefer yours from an espresso machine or the iconic stovetop moka coffee pot – personally I find it hard to pick a favourite – everyone who’s spent even a short time in Italy knows there’s an art to preparing and drinking coffee all’italiana

This rich tradition comes with a set of rules and norms that can be hard to navigate if you weren’t born in the country, so here’s our complete guide to where, when and how to drink coffee like a true Italian.

Where, when and how to drink coffee like an Italian

A shot of dark, velvety coffee is more than just a quick caffeine hit: Italy’s espresso is a prized social and cultural ritual the country considers a part of its national heritage. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

The weather has taken a turn for the worse this week and many parts of northern Italy are experiencing freezing temperatures and snow. It sounds obvious now, but before I moved to Italy I didn’t realise just how bitterly cold it gets, and my first winter in Tuscany was a bit of a shock. Luckily, Italians from around the peninsula share a love of talking – or complaining – about cold and wet weather so there were plenty of people ready to commiserate.

Here are ten Italian phrases you can throw into your weather-related conversations during these chilly days:

Ten phrases to talk about cold and wet weather in Italian

And have you noticed how some Italian translations of English-language film titles bear very little resemblance to the original? I first realised this when an Italian friend told me how they always watched something called ‘Mamma ho perso l’aereo’ at Christmas, and described the plot, which sounded identical to that of Home Alone…

From the very literal to the improbable, here’s a non-exhaustive list of our favourite Italian movie title translations.

Puns and plot spoilers: How English movie titles are translated into Italian

Remember if you’d like to have this weekly newsletter sent straight to your inbox you can sign up for it via Newsletter preferences in “My Account”.

Is there an aspect of the Italian way of life you’d like to see us write more about on The Local? Please email me at [email protected]