Culture / History of Italy / Politics

The Italian national anthem

The Italian national anthem, “The Song of the Italians”, popularly known as “Mameli’s Anthem”, was composed by the Italian patriot Goffredo Mameli in 1847, during the Italian Risorgimento. It was adopted in 1946, since the national anthem of Kingdom of Italy was the “Royal March”.

The Fascist Party had it own “triumphal anthem”, “Giovinezza” in the version by Salvator Gotta and Giuseppe Blanc. The popular song “Bella ciao” is considered the unofficial anthem of the Italian Resistance.

“The Song of the Italians” is sometimes criticized for its alleged poor musical quality, its nationalistic tones or its obscure language. Such criticism usually goes with the proposal to replace the anthem with Giuseppe Verdi’s “Va, pensiero” (whose lyrics are not very simple or contemporary either). “Va, pensiero” is also a favorite of regionalist parties which see in the chorus a manifesto of the right to self-determination of peoples.

During the opening ceremony of the 2015 Milan Expo, the anthem was sung by a children’s chorus replacing the line “We are ready to die” with “We are ready to live”.

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