Strada Sesamo is a Italian children's television show, and the second Italian co-production of the U.S. children's program Sesame Street following the 1971 dub Sesamo Apriti. It airs primarily in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Monaco and the Vatican City. It is the fourth longest-running foreign adaptation of Sesame Street without interruptions, behind Sesamstraße, Sesamstraat and Plaza Sésamo.
Strada Sesamo has been primarily running in Italy on RAI since April 15, 1983. Each 30-minute episode can also been seen on RAI's children television channel Rai YoYo. In 2011, Strada Sesamo stopped airing on Rai 1, but continues to be broadcast on Rai 2 and Rai YoYo.
The Early Days (1983-1989)
In 1983, Strada Sesamo debuted on Rai 1. A Italian street set was built at Cinema Bologna Studios, and Kermit Love built the original puppets and was sent to Bologna to train the initial puppeteers. The show included a mix of new street footage and dubbed American segments. However, when Series 2 began production, the American Sesame Street footage run out fast, and the production was hindered by the fact that the tapes for the American footage was sent via air mail and that Italy was in a different time zone, which meant that the producers had to wait from a period of two weeks to a month to receive American footage. As a result, the producers in Italy chose to dub footage from other co-productions such as Sesamstraße, Sesamstraat, Iftah Ya Simsim, and Plaza Sésamo (and later, Shalom Sesame) to fill in the time while copies of new Sesame Street footage was on it's way to Italy. The first original Italian Muppet characters were Dionigi the wolf and Ida the bird/monster.
In 1989, a spin-off program entitled Teatro Strada Sesamo, showing Italian-dubbed versions of children's TV series and edutainment videos, began airing on Rai 1. The program served as the first international exposure for Barney the Dinosaur when in 1990 6 of the Backyard Gang videos (The Backyard Show through Barney Goes to School) were shown dubbed into Italian during the weekday edition of Teatro Strada Sesamo.
The Store Era (1990-1997)
A new set was built for 1990, centered around a department store named "Incredibilmente Economico". In recent years the department store slowly transitioned into a large mall.
In 1992, following success with adapting Iftah Ya Simsim clips by dubbing them into Italian, the show's full-body cat Abla was transferred to the show (a la what happened with the Israeli co-production Rechov Sumsum's Sivar in 2014 when she "moved" to Brazil's Vila Sésamo; however unlike Sivar, the fact Abla was originally from the first Arabic co-production was never acknowledged for several years) after a spare Abla suit was given by CTW to RAI.
A new Muppet was added named Giorgia Leonessa (1995-present), originally created using a spare Leonie Löwenherz puppet from Sesamstraße. She was featured along with the then-current cast in the show's film Segui quel lupo!, an adaptation of Follow that Bird.
The Mall Era (1998-2013)
In 1998, the cast began to expand hugely. A Grouch character, Marcho (1998-present), was introduced to the series, living in a recycling bin in the food court of the mall, alongside a new monster named Gigiza (1998-present).
In 2003, Ernie and Bert were introduced as new residents of Strada Sesamo, appearing regularly in newly produced Italian segments as well as appearing in their own apartment on Strada Sesamo.
In 2004, the show's 20th anniversary was celebrated throughout the year. A press conference was held in Bologna with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Big Bird (performed by Caroll Spinney), Elmo (performed by Kevin Clash), and even Bear from Bear in the Big Blue House (performed by Noel MacNeal) in attendance. The show gave a donation of €15,663.00 to UNICEF. Bear also made a guest appearance in a regular episode (performed by Noel but dubbed over by his Italian voice actor Danilo De Girolamo).
The Elmo Era (2014-present)
For the show's 30th anniversary, Elmo was introduced as a resident on the street, appearing in his home, an American-style shotgun house across from the mall on Strada Sesamo, as a new host of the show. Zaira Yong was introduced as a new female friend for Elmo. Established American characters such as Cookie Monster, Oscar, Murray, Telly Monster and Grover make guest appearances. Super Grover 2.0 and Murray Has A Little Lamb were also added to the show beginning in 2015.
In 2017, Dionigi made a guest appearance on Barney - È fantastico!, the new Italian co-production of Barney & Friends, also made by RAI in Bologna. The second film Le avventure di Elmo nel Villaggio d'Grouch, based off The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, was released in 2018.
- Main article: Strada Sesamo characters
- Fausto Fünten as Dionigi, a wolf (1983-present)
- Annamaria Toso as Ida, blue bird/monster (1983-2008; 2014-present)
- Eugenia Gragnaniello as Abla, purple cat (1992-present)
- Matilda Ingoglia as Giorgia Leonessa, a lioness (1995-present)
- Pierluigi Rolla as Marcho, a grouch (1998-present)
- Griselda Giaccardi as Gigiza, a dark blue monster (1998-present)
- Matthias Bisoli as Bert (2003-present)
- Rainier Calzaghe as Ernie (2003-present)
- Davide Garbolino as Elmo (2014-present)