Netflix has plenty of international series and movies available for viewers in the U.S., but there's always room for more on the streaming service. On January 31, Netflix will expand its Italian Netflix Original offerings with Luna Nera, a series about witchcraft and young love in 17th century Italy. But while Luna Nera isn't based on a true story, exactly, the supernatural storyline does have a basis in reality.
Luna Nera, which means "black moon," is an adaptation of the young adult novel of the same name by Tiziana Triana; the first in what will be a trilogy. In fact, work on the series began before the book was even released. As reported by Cineuropa, filming for the first season wrapped in July 2019, and the book hit shelves in the fall. Netflix's description of the series reads, "In 17th-century Italy, a teenager learns about her destiny among a family of witches, just as her boyfriend's father hunts her down for witchcraft." Sounds like a complicated, relationship to say the least.
While this particular story is fictional, there are parts of the premise that are based on actual history. After all, witch hunting was a very real issue a mere 400 years ago when the show is set. In Luna Nera, the witch hunters are the benandanti, a group of people in northern Italy, who believed they had powers to fight off the witches, who did things like spoil their crops and land. The benandanti (which means "good walkers") believed their spirits left their bodies and that they were chosen by God to protect against witches, as explained by Ancient Origins. The belief was formed from a combination of Christianity and agrarian rituals, and existed around the time of the Roman Inquisition.
Luna Nera looks to have some sci-fi elements rather than simple battles over the next harvest. (See those glow-y neon lights in the trailer?) But, the history and Italian folklore are there. As Netflix's VP of International Originals, Erik Barmack, explained in a statement for Fandango (the Italian production company), "The manuscript has a rich web of characters and a mythology deeply rooted in local legend and represents a fresh and original way to do a female-led show in Italy."
So, if you stream the series, expect history, love, magic, powerful women, and to root for the witches. Well, the witches and one of their rebellious teen boyfriends.