Luna Nera: Netflix’s new Italian original series sees women fight back against the witch hunts

Photo: Luna Nera.. Image Courtesy Emanuela Scarpa/Netflix
Photo: Luna Nera.. Image Courtesy Emanuela Scarpa/Netflix /

Luna Nera is Netflix’s latest Italian original series about witchcraft and young love in the 17th century. Is it worth your time to watch?

Luna Nera begins with an incantation recited in the woods over a fallen reindeer. She holds its pulsing heart in her hands. That seems to be a staple in fictional witchcraft, lots of bloody hearts. It’s fitting since the series goes on to tackle the torments of young love between the son of a witch hunter and a young woman who has just learned she is destined to become a powerful witch part of a family of them.

What makes this series special is not only is it led by a primarily female cast, but the show is entirely written and directed by women, which Variety states is a first for Italy! It’s exciting that the first show to feature so many talented women is about witchcraft, and it is certainly timely, what with a certain public figure’s proclivity to likening their criticism to witch hunts despite not knowing the truly horrific massacres that occurred 400 years ago, but I digress.

Luna Nera centers around a young woman named Ade (Nina Fotaras). She is forced to watch as her grandmother is burned at the stake as a witch (she is rescued from her fiery fate but then stabbed by an enraged man, and she is only one of many.

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The benandanti are a ferocious group of hunters who believe their sole purpose is to rid their villages of witches, who they blame for every slight, such as poor crops or, as we see in the first episode, miscarriages.

On the other side is the dashing Giorgio Belli, who plays Pietro. He doesn’t believe in witches and often defends accused women, trying to explain to the hysterical masses that much of what they believe is magic is explainable by science.

Luna Nera
Photo: Luna Nera.. Image Courtesy Emanuela Scarpa/Netflix /

But to complicate matters, that man we mentioned above who stabs Ade’s grandmother? He is Pietro’s father. Despite a star-crossed lover relationship blossoming between Ade and Pietro, things quickly become complicated.

The first episode is, admittedly, a little confusing. It took us up to episode three to start getting a firm grasp on the many characters and relationships, but there is some compelling storytelling here. It’s not entirely “horror,” so if that’s what you’re looking for, you might want to try elsewhere, but if you want more great witch content then Luna Nera is worth your while.

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At only six episodes, it’s not a huge commitment and it has a lot to offer. Even though it may not be frightening, there is some disturbing content and fun fighting scenes, plus magic! Lots of magic.

Season one of Luna Nera is now streaming on Netflix.