The present contribution focuses on Benigni’s auteur film La vita è bella (Italy, 1997) as a tool for the development of language competence in L2 English, Spanish and German, as well as of translation skills from Italian into these languages. The project, developed at the CLASS Language Centre at the University for Foreigners of Siena, Italy, is placed within the Centre’s research activities on foreign language learning and audiovisual translation. More specifically, it addresses Italian-speaking students from the degree course in Linguistic and Cultural Mediation at advanced proficiency level in the three target languages. The study will examine the English, Spanish and German subtitles of the film (taken from the respective DVD versions), focusing on sequences which result in different translation outcomes in the three languages and specifically relate to the following aspects: culture-bound language, verbal and non-verbal humour, sociolinguistic variation and multilingualism (standard and regional Italian, German). Based mainly on Gottlieb’s (1992) model of subtitling strategies, the research aims at promoting classroom reflection on translation creativity and potential inaccuracies in the reversed subtitles. The analysis ultimately suggests teaching activities which, moving from cross-linguistic comparison and the linguistic inventiveness that characterize the film, promote the development of students’ metacompetences and integrated skills, as well as their critical abilities.