Italian Culture, in and out of translation
December 7, 2014 5:11 AM   Subscribe

Recommendations, please, on current Italian popular music, literature in English translation, and subtitled media.

I will spend the winter and spring working in Florence, and I'm looking for suggestions on what to listen to, read, and watch.

Music: I've really liked getting into local music when studying Spanish in the past (hence my Porteno accent and love of Los Fabulosos Cadillacs), and I'd love to get into some current Italian music. Bonus if there are lyrics in relatively clear Italian, but not at all essential (btw I'm basically at about early semester 2 in Italian study). I like almost everything, unfortunately: punk, hip-hop, electronica, dance-pop, alternative. I like progressive politics, but again, not a must. In many genres I particularly appreciate character-ful female vocals. More Spanish music I like: everything from Julieta Venegas to Manu Chao to ChocQuib Town.

Literature: I'm interested in anything interesting in translation, the more contemporary the better. Bonus if set near Florence. Non-fiction fine. I like mystery and SF, and also "literary" fiction. It's not only surprisingly difficult to find lists of Italian lit in trans (as opposed to tons of lists of anglo-american fictional fantasies set in Italy), it's also difficult to find descriptions of such work that really explain why someone would like it!

Super bonus if you can suggest Italian music that goes well with particular Italian literature in translation.

Film/tv: just suggest anything you like! Particularly interested in series television. I really enjoyed The Great Beauty, but my tastes in video are as eclectic as in other things. If you've got a reason you liked it, I'd love to hear it. Anything available with subtitles is potentially for me.
posted by Mngo to Travel & Transportation around Italy (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: For novels set in Florence see here, here and here. The latter has reviews.
posted by TheRaven at 12:16 PM on December 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Elena Ferrante - the Neapolitan trilogy which starts with "My Brilliant Friend". (Contemporary literary fiction - the trilogy is about the relationship between two close female friends as they grow up. My Brilliant Friend is about their childhood in post-war Naples, and is the best book I have read this year).
posted by ontheradio at 3:25 PM on December 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: How about Gomorrah? The recent (2014) crime/drama TV series that is Italy's answer to 'The Wire'? Available on DVD and torrent. Subtitled. It's not based in Florence, though. But neither was The Great Beauty. Other Paulo Sorrentino films recommended include: The Consequences of Love (Le conseguenze dell'amore); The Family Friend (L'amico di famiglia): Il Divo (beautifully stylised biopic of Giulio Andreotti, controversial Italian politician).
posted by Mister Bijou at 2:48 AM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, Sacro GRA. Again, not Florence. But is a witty (and award-winning) documentary (2013) about some of the residents who live alongside Rome's ring road. YT trailer here.
posted by Mister Bijou at 3:07 AM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not a film and not in Florence, but I enjoyed The Young Montalbano and (Regular) Montalbano, a television series about a detective in Italy.

There are books too.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 8:30 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

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